Find a Provider

Cross Training

What is cross training?

Cross training involves different types of exercise that are done in the same workout or in separate workouts on a regular schedule. For example, you might run and lift weights one day and swim the next. Because different exercises target different parts of the body, cross training allows you to have the benefits of many types of exercise. For example, running and swimming are both good for your heart. Running also strengthens your legs while swimming works more on your upper body. Including a variety of exercises to a workout routine can be a great way to improve total body strength, endurance, and flexibility.

What are the benefits of cross training?

  • You can get a total body workout. The different exercises can condition your entire body.
  • It can help you lose weight.
  • Overuse injuries can be prevented. Because you are not doing the same exercise all of the time, you can limit stress on specific joints or muscles and prevent muscle imbalances.
  • You can still get exercise even if you have an injury. For example, if you have a knee injury, you can still get exercise by doing an activity that does not stress the injured tissue, such as swimming. This will allow you to keep exercising while your injury heals.
  • You are less likely to get bored with your training routine. Including a variety of exercises in a workout routine can be a great way to improve total body strength, endurance, and flexibility.

How do I get started?

Before beginning any exercise program, it is always a good idea to check first with your healthcare provider. To get the most out of a cross-training routine, choose at least one activity from each of the 3 different exercise groups listed below. You might want to start with exercises that you know you like.

  • Flexibility exercises
    • yoga
    • Pilates
    • stretching
  • Strength-training exercises
    • free weights
    • machines
    • calisthenics (push-ups, chin-ups, jumping jacks, etc.)
  • Cardiovascular endurance exercises
    • walking
    • jogging
    • hiking
    • swimming
    • cycling
    • tennis
    • cross-country skiing
    • rowing
    • skating
    • elliptical trainer
    • aerobic fitness classes

Flexibility exercises are usually done for 10 to 60 minutes, while strength and cardiovascular exercises are usually done for 30 to 60 minutes.

What would a sample cross-training program look like?

Here is an example of a cross-training program designed for overall fitness.

Day of the week      Activity            Duration
Sunday               jogging             20 to 30 min
                     stretching          10 min

Monday               cycling             30 min
                     weight training     30 min

Tuesday              jogging             20 to 30 min
                     stretching          10 min

Wednesday            rest day

Thursday             swimming            30 min
                     weight training     30 min

Friday               jogging             20 to 30 min
                     yoga                30 to 50 min

Saturday             cycling             30 min

Are there any cautions I should follow?

  • When you add a new activity, don't do it for more than 20 minutes the first several times. This helps lower the risk of injury.
  • Listen to your body. If you have soreness or pain, take a rest day or try a different exercise that does not stress that area.
  • Don't overdo it. Avoid adding new exercises to an already heavy routine. If you are running 6 days a week, don't add swimming on the 7th day. Instead, use swimming to replace a day or 2 of running.
  • Avoid activities that place the same stress on the same body part. For example, if you have arch (foot) pain, activities such as jogging, tennis, and hiking might all worsen your injury. Substitute an exercise such as swimming or cycling for one of these activities.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File diex4109.htm Release 13/2010

© 2010 RelayHealth and/or its All rights reserved.