Easy Fitness – Cross Training
Despite its scientific pedigree, cross training is just a fancy word for mixing up your exercises. The best way to achieve solid weight loss and fitness while still keeping a check on your sanity.
If you want to get all the benefits of exercise, and there are many of them: strength, stamina, health, a lean appearance, you’ll have a much better chance of covering all the bases by doing different activities.
The term cross training is often defined as the combination of different types of exercise: for example, stretching, aerobic and resistance exercises. But anytime you mix up your workouts—for example, cycling, running, and brisk walking—you’re cross-training.
Cross training is not complicated. You can do it easily and effectively without a personal trainer or without expensive sneakers that make you speak four languages and do your taxes. More importantly, it has a wide variety of benefits.
Mixing up your exercises puts more muscles into play. This will make you stronger and less prone to injury and few people will lose weight by nursing a pulled muscle. The full-body muscle zap will also make you look better, allowing you to avoid the fun-house mirror gaze of the keen biker with Terminator thighs and a candy torso.
From a practical standpoint, cross training gives you more options and fewer excuses. Pool closed? Go running. Running off for a new dump of snow? Take the cross-country skis. Stuck in a strange city whose traffic is second only to the crime rate? Do calisthenics in your hotel room.
If your goal is to lose weight while enjoying a wide variety of exercises, sports, and training times, then cross training is definitely for you. If you want to build a solid foundation of fitness and burn fat, cross training works great.
the aerobic attack
With the exception of avoiding onion rings, cakes, and other high-fat (and fattening) foods, the most efficient way to burn off excess calories is with regular aerobic exercise. By alternating between a variety of aerobic options, from cycling and swimming to inline skating, you’ll get your heart and lungs in shape, while working (and balancing) the muscles in every part of your body.
Think big – It’s a simple rule, so it should be easy to remember: The more muscles involved in an exercise, the more calories burned. When you’re looking to burn fat, look for the large muscle groups—the kind you work on by running, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, rowing, tennis, basketball, etc. Table tennis certainly has its intrinsic values, but unless you’re a member of the Chinese national team, weight loss isn’t one of them.
early start – You don’t have to be an experienced athlete to start cross training. It’s also a great way to get back into shape. The combination of exercises relieves the initial impact on the muscles that are out of shape. Start a fitness program with just running, and you’ll be putting a lot of repetitive stress on some pretty fragile muscles, like your calves and Achilles tendons. But if you run one day and bike the next, your calves and hamstrings rest on cycling days, and your quads rest when you run.
Better yet, remove your feet entirely. Alternate running or biking with a day of swimming. Not only is it a great workout, but it also makes a wonderful liquid balm the day after your bike ride or run, stretching your muscles and relieving them of the stress of gravity.
mix it up slowly – It’s a painful scenario: A long-time cyclist decides to do a bit of racing. He starts up hard. The calf muscle makes a sound as if the velcro is coming off. The cyclist spends many weeks rehabbing.
Whether you’ve just started working out or have been buffing your butt for longer than you’d like to admit, it’s critical to start exercising slowly. Even if your heart and lungs aren’t the limiting factor, your muscles and tendons are, and if you don’t pamper them, you’re in for trouble.
Whether you’re coming back from some time off or starting something new, exerting yourself hard will set you up for a tendon or ligament injury. You will get better results if you are patient and build things slowly.
When starting out in a new sport, do not exert yourself for at least four to six weeks. In the meantime, take it easy and calm. Build endurance and condition muscles first. Don’t worry about speed, go slow and have fun.
split workouts – There is a masculine mystique that says that you always have to finish what you start. If today is your day to run, run. When you start on the stationary bike, you end up on the bike. While this kind of one-track thinking can get you through business school, it’s not nearly as productive when it comes to aerobic exercise.
You can circumvent fatigue to some degree by doing two different aerobic exercises during the same workout. Shifting the responsibility to a different set of muscles mid-workout will allow you to push yourself a little harder, and pushing harder helps maintain a higher calorie burn.
Calorie burn varies from person to person, but typically, if you spend 15 minutes on the treadmill working out at 70 percent of your maximum capacity and then jump on the cross-country ski machine for 15 minutes at the same intensity, You’ll burn about a third more calories than running on the treadmill at 50 percent effort for 30 minutes.
You may not be able to sustain that effort each time just because you change your activity, but as a general rule, you will be able to benefit both psychologically and physiologically by changing things up.
The same confusion approach can be applied outside of the club as well. Run to the pool. Or throw a pair of inline skates in your backpack, ride a bike for 15 minutes, then jump on and skate.
Do workouts within workouts – Technically, cross training involves mixing different sports and exercises at different times. But we will be creative for a moment and suggest that we mix everything at the same time.
Remember, the more muscles you engage or demand from your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. So innovative. Carrying a pair of 3-pound dumbbells while you run can increase the number of calories burned by up to 20 percent. Wear swim fins in the pool; it will make those big, oxygen-starved muscles in your legs work harder and gobble up more calories.
Obviously, you don’t want to take this too far. Using dumbbells while cycling will probably cause problems, but the only limit is the limit of your imagination. You don’t need big changes to get results.
Rent, Rent, Rent – If you play a sport that can only be done at a gym across town and only between 5:00 and 6:00 am, you won’t be doing it for very long. It has to be convenient for you to do it. If you have to drive 15 miles across town to exercise, you won’t.
be reasonable – Cross training is the best route to fitness, but this doesn’t mean you should adopt a fitness routine that requires its own agenda. The sporting goods industry would certainly like us all to incorporate boxing, volleyball, running, cycling, dance aerobics, and judo into our fitness week, but this is neither practical nor smart. You need to engage in a specific exercise with some regularity.
Because? Because repetition brings conditioning. If you only run once every two weeks, you’ll start almost from scratch each time, and you’ll certainly never be in good condition to work hard enough to burn significant calories.
Although this isn’t set in stone, experts generally recommend picking two aerobic exercises you enjoy and then mixing them up throughout the week. Cycling on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (because each exercise stresses different muscles, alternating between them gives those muscles a day off to recover).
That weight training can be used to lose weight may seem ridiculous, since even recreational lifters add bulk to their bodies, and serious lifters look like hunks of meat. But experts have found that weight training is an extremely effective tool in the battle to burn fat, especially when combined with aerobic exercise.
Although outnumbered in most of our bodies, muscle cells are much more metabolically active than fat cells. A pound of muscle can require 35 to 45 more calories just to get you through the day. Adding more muscle to your frame actually helps burn fat more effectively throughout the day. Particularly when combined with aerobic exercise, cross training in the weight room works a greater variety of muscles than doing the same lifts over and over again. That means existing muscle cells grow and that, of course, means more fat is being burned.
When you’re trying to lose weight, experts say, it’s a good idea to combine three days a week of aerobic exercise with two days of weight training. While two days of weight training isn’t enough to promote substantial strength gains, it’s more than enough to deliver muscle mass to achieve the metabolic burn you’re looking for.
Work the Large Groups – If you spend a lot of time in the gym, you’ve almost certainly seen the big guys spend what seems like an inordinate amount of time working on small parts of their anatomy, doing wrist curls or calf raises. But when you’re trying to lose weight, doing isolated dumbbell curls isn’t your best option. Instead, focus on lifts that hit big muscles and large muscle groups. The more muscles and joints involved in a lift, the greater the caloric expenditure.
There are many of these large muscle groups to work. Doing lunges, for example, works the quadriceps and hamstrings; Bench presses are good for developing your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
make the circuit – A great way to combine weight lifting with aerobic exercise is circuit training. Here’s how it works: select six to eight large muscle lifts that will work your entire body. Do 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Rest 30 seconds between exercises. After you’ve done all the exercises, rest for up to 2 minutes, then repeat the circuit again.
Lifting this way takes the cardiovascular system to a higher level and then keeps it there because it doesn’t allow enough time for recovery. Because your cardiovascular system is elevated, you are burning more calories.
When doing circuit training, you’ll want to substantially reduce the weights you normally lift. As a general rule of thumb, plan to lift 40 to 60 percent of your current max. If you’re new to weight training, you’ll want to build a base of strength first: three days a week of lifting for two to three months should be plenty.
Stand-and-Move – To increase your calorie burn a little more, focus on standing lifts. For example, do dumbbell overhead presses standing up instead of sitting down. Standing raises burn a little more calories because you’re also working to support your own weight. Add some movement to those standing raises by doing lunges instead of sitting on the leg extension machine and you’ll be upping your calorie burn again.