Fitness Articles

Reference Guide to Cross-Training

Why It's Beneficial and How to Do It

The Benefits of Cross-Training
Cross-training isn't just for the elite athletes—it's for the everyday exerciser, too (even if you're working out just a few times a week).

Here are some examples of the many benefits of cross-training.
  • It reduces exercise boredom. You're never doing the same thing day after day and week after week. This can keep you mentally stimulated during your workouts, increasing your motivation to stick with a program.
  • It promotes flexibility in your workout plan. Whenever your workout plans are thwarted, such as when the treadmills are completely full at the gym, you always have another workout you can do.
  • It improves fitness and reduces body fat. Training your body in a variety of ways prevents weight-loss and fitness plateaus by continuously challenging your muscles in new ways.
  • It conditions the whole body. When you do one form of exercise, such as biking, you'll become good at biking alone. It won't help you become a better runner, swimmer, or basketball player. Cross-training helps you to work your full body in a multitude of ways so that you're strong, fit and able to handle almost anything.
  • It reduces the risk of injury. Because you're always switching it up, no one muscle is being overused or overdeveloped, which means you'll be less susceptible to injury. This also helps yo develop a better muscular balance in the body, which also reduces injury risk.
  • It lets you stay active while recovering. This is the key to active recovery! When cross-training, you can rest one group of muscles while working other fresh muscles, allowing you to recover properly and continue your fitness program. Instead of completely resting after a long bike ride or an intense running race, you can stay active the next day by doing a new form of exercise, for example.
  • It keeps you fit when you're injured. Being injured is no fun at all, but with cross-training you can usually find some exercise that you are still able to do without aggravating your issue (as long as you have your health care provider's clearance, of course). Whether it's working on your core strength while sitting out with shin splints, or improving your leg power with squats when stuck with tennis elbow, cross-training allows you to keep moving even when recovering from an injury.
  • It improves your skill, agility and balance. Because cross-training challenges your body in new ways, you're constantly improving your coordination and skill—many of which have functional benefits that help you do activities in your everyday life and prevent falls. Continued ›
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • Excellent article. I love reading about healthy living and nutrition - 10/1/2014 8:01:25 PM
  • This is EXCELLENT information to know! I will definitely keep it all in mind when I start going to the gym/campus rec center. - 8/20/2014 1:06:43 AM
  • Great article. I like mixing things up. - 6/3/2013 3:41:59 PM
  • ABSOLUTELY keeps you interested and motivated - i think cross training is the main reason ive started out so well this time. ive been at it for about 2 weeks and ive already been swimming, walking, rollerblading, done yoga and worked out with a ball. always looking for something new, and its making it so much fun! id love to try a spin or zumba class. - 5/25/2013 2:48:14 PM
  • I was surprised to see that I've unintentionally been doing this the correct way - I'll use the elliptical a few days out of the week, and then belly dance during the other days! Neat! - 3/11/2013 11:14:08 PM
  • Great article! Quick but filled with information. THANKS! - 12/23/2010 7:30:30 AM
  • Great article.
    My adult children do the Tony Horton P90X work out which is all about mixing things up, so cross-training is really important. Even Jack LaLanne who is 96 says to change that routine at least every 30 days. - 12/15/2010 12:33:09 AM

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