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Mix up your workouts

Cross training is a great way to say fit and healthy

Swimming is a great workout on its own or as part of a cross training program. (The Gazette)

Cross training became a popular catchphrase in the 1980s.

While runners ran, swimmers swam and cyclists pedaled, cross training became the best way to stay fit and healthy.

“The goal is improving overall performance,” it notes on Wikipedia. “It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of one training method to negate the shortcomings of another.

Add biking to your workout routine - short or long distances can spice up your day or week. (The Gazette)

“Cross-training in sports and fitness involves combining exercises to work various parts of the body. Often one particular activity works certain muscle groups, but not others; cross-training aims to eliminate this imbalance.”

Running can be added to your workout a few days a week. (Cliff Jette/Freelance)

There you have it. The more you can do, the more variety you can add to your workouts, the better you will be — physically and mentally.

Here is an example of a simple — and typical — week for those interested in cross training.

Use excercise equipment to mix things up, like an elliptical machine. (The Gazette)

Monday-Wednesday-Friday: Walk any distance (at least four miles), with at least one big hill or several moderate hills. Walk at a brisk pace (under 16 minutes per mile). Do 25 minutes of calisthenics — jumping jacks, jump squats, shadow boxing (or real boxing with a bag), high knees, etc. Go for quick bike ride — around 20 minutes.

Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday: Start with a walking warm-up of 20 minutes, then start jogging (or running) for another 25 to 30 minutes. Finish with another 15-20 brisk walk. Do some kind of resistance training for 25-30 minutes — lifting weights, pushups or working with bands. Alternate with upper body and lower body days.

Do some kind of resistance training each week. (The Gazette)

Sunday: Go for a longer run, bike or swim. Make it a bit longer than during the week, but be flexible.

You can substitute any of these activities with ones better suited to your own wants. Instead of a run, go for a longer bike ride, for instance. Or swim instead of walk.

Other activities that would work include jumping rope, rowing (in water or with a machine), skating, stair climbing. Other exercise equipment — like an elliptical machine — can be substituted.

The goal is to work your core, arms, legs, glutes and back.

The point is — mix things up. Don’t do the same exercise day after day, week after week.

“Cross-training is a great way to condition different muscle groups, develop a new set of skills, and reduce the boredom that creeps in after months of the same exercise routines,” an article at verywellfit.com notes. “Cross-training also allows you the ability to vary the stress placed on specific muscles or even your cardiovascular system.

“After months of the same movements, your body becomes extremely efficient at performing those movements, and while that is great for competition, it limits the amount of overall fitness you possess and reduces the actual conditioning you get while training; rather than continuing to improve, you simply maintain a certain level of fitness.

“Cross-training is also necessary to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse.”

Some other benefits from verywellfit.com include:

  • “Allows you to be flexible with your training needs and plans (if the pool is closed, you can go for a run instead).
  • “Can continue to train while injured
  • “Conditions the entire body, not just specific muscle groups
  • “Improves your skill, agility, and balance
  • “Produces a higher level of all-around conditioning
  • “Works some muscles while others rest and recover.”

In an article at webmd.com, Dr. Michael Smith notes cross training is “is ideal for anyone, whether you're a beginner who wants to get in shape or an experienced exerciser looking to take your fitness to the next level.

“It's the backbone of any well-developed exercise program. The wide variety of activities means you can choose what works for you.

“One of the most common mistakes people make with exercise is repeating the same routine week after week. To continue to improve your fitness level and reap all the benefits of regular exercise, you need to keep your body guessing. Cross training does this for you.”

The bottom line is to move — any way you can.

Comments: (319) 398-8416; jr.ogden@thegazette.com