The benefits of cross-training
Is there more to running than just running?
Briane Agostinelli, BS, CEP, CWP, CPPC
Health Advocate, Consumer Health Engagement
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist I NWI Certified Wellness Practitioner
As a runner, have you ever consider that there may be a better type of exercise? What if I told you that by running less, you have the potential to run faster and reduce your risk for injury?
The answer is cross-training. It’s a phrase that gets used a lot, but what does it mean?
Cross-training mixes several forms of exercise, including aerobics, and strength and flexibility training. Exercises are done at different levels of intensity to maintain a high level of fitness. By varying the stress placed on specific muscles, you can enhance performance and reduce your risk for injuries.
Six benefits of cross-training
- Improved skills, agility, speed and balance
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Greater aerobic fitness by including nonimpact aerobic exercise in your routine to develop other muscles without increasing your risk for injury
- Injury prevention
- Runner’s injuries are frequently caused by instability or inadequate strength. With strength training and stretching, these injuries may be greatly reduced.
- Variety and flexibility to your routine
- Reducing boredom, burnout, and if there is a change in plans you and your workout can adjust
Types of exercises to include
- Aerobic: Running, swimming, biking, rowing, jump rope, hiking, stair climbing
- Strength training: Calisthenics (push-ups, crunches and pull-ups), free weights, machines
- Flexibility: Stretching, yoga, using a foam roller
- Skill conditioning: Sprinting, agility, plyometric and balance drills
My personal experience
For my first marathon, I ran five days a week. I did minimal strength training and other forms of aerobic training. Then I signed up for my next marathon with a new mind-set to run less and cross-train more. By incorporating cross-training, I was able to avoid injury and improve my marathon time by 47 minutes – from 4:24 to 3:37.
Watson, S, Cross Training, WebMD, July 21, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/cross-training
Creating a Personalized Fitness Program, WebMD. Public Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/creating-personalized-fitness-program?page=3
This is intended to be general health information and not medical advice or services. You should consult your doctor for medical advice or services, including seeking advice before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.