The gym is full of dedicated people who show up day-after-day, year-after-year, only to shove the same body into the same clothes for their efforts. It’s sad, like really sad.
Alright, not that sad… but pretty sad.
What is sad is, nobody joins the gym to be the same person a year later. If given the option for magic, 100% of people would change something about themselves right now. All of us can think of one thing.
Some of those changes are possible without magic. Most of them will benefit from cross training.
First, let’s get on the same page about what qualifies as cross training. Then we can walk through different goals to identify where it fits into those programs.
Defined, cross training is training for more than one event to leverage the best of both training environments. It’s the fitness equivalent of fabric blends.
The closest most of us come to cross training is mixing cardio and weightlifting. This means we are training our bodies for cardio endurance and strength.
All things being equal, this is fine, but to push beyond plateaus we should consider other modes of work; modes outside the gym or outside our normal scope of training.
Fat Loss Goals
For those who want to drop a few pounds of body fat, nothing will make accelerating your results more tolerable than cross training.
You can always adopt new training methods in the gym, adopting high-intensity interval training over plodding lifting sessions, but it won’t be as fun as getting out of the gym.
A simple cross training method for fat loss goal is to get out of your car. Plan your travel to include biking or walking wherever possible.
This way you can stick to your gym workout, but bolt on more calorie burning opportunities.
Weight Gain Goals
To gain weight, most people know they need to eat more, but if you just eat more you’ll only gain body fat. To gain the good weight, you have to employ some intense workouts.
Lifting big weights is as much about explosive movement as it is force production. Weight lifting, under a microscope, is about accelerating weight from a standing position.
That moment where the weight goes from zero to anything is a little explosion. Mixing explosive movements into your training will improve your overall technique and strength.
For this, you could add in medicine ball work or go run up a staircase instead of that treadmill. Two-foot hops, climbing rock walls or lifting big tires are great examples of explosive work for increasing your power.
Depending on how you wish to increase your performance, cross-training is critical. You could train for the Tour De France with nothing but riding a bicycle, but you’d never win.
Cyclists will often adapt other methods of cardio to keep their cardio system challenged. Olympic weightlifters lift heavy most of the time, but they will cycle in periods of endurance, even hit the trails to build their cardio.
Even football players sometimes take dance lessons or martial arts to rewire their brains for smoother movement.
To train like a pro, find out how your favorite champion cross trains, then copy that workout.
Moreover, cross training is fun. It keeps your workouts interesting by keeping you curious.
When you tread the same trail, lift the same weight so often you could do those things blindfolded, you owe it to yourself to do something new.
You owe it to your body.