Tired of the same-old, same-old when it comes to your workout routine? Cross-training can help.
Routinely changing up your workout routine is key to challenging your mind and keeping your body guessing. Hear from our expert, Phillip Cochran, McConnell Heart Health Center Exercise Physiologist share his tips on why it is essential to change things up and how you can have fun doing it.
1. Change Helps Avoid Plateaus
Your body has a way of becoming too accustomed to routine activity, which prevents you from progressing toward your fitness goals. Challenge your body at least twice a week to a workout that you aren’t used to. For instance, instead of running on the treadmill or the road, head for a wooded trail or local park. This minor tweak will have your body working harder as it adjusts to the new terrain and in turn, build muscle and cardiovascular endurance as well as burn more calories.
Other factors that can be impacting your performance include; nutrition, stress, sleep, or genetics, says Cochran. Before switching up a routine, either consult your physician or be sure you know what isn’t working for you, as each of these factors is important for continued results.
2. Prevent overuse and injury
One common mistake most people make when it comes to exercise is repeating the same routine day after day, week after week, which sets you up for overuse injuries. By switching up your activities, you give overused muscles and joints the chance to rest and recover before working them again. Most overuse injuries can be hard to treat, so prevention is the best solution.
For instance, if you are a beginner runner, your ankles, knees and lower back might not be used to the impact of running, so start with a low impact conditioning machine such as an elliptical to improve your strength. Once you establish this base, you can gradually begin mixing up where you run without putting stress on your joints.
Here are some warning signs to look out for to prevent overuse injuries:
- You are increasing your reps, weight, time or other factors too quickly
- You are not focusing on all muscle groups
- You are running on hard or uneven surfaces
- You are wearing worn-out shoes
- You aren’t using the proper technique
- You aren’t incorporating a rest day
3. Focus on all the muscle groups
Doing a little bit of everything is never a bad thing. When creating a cross-training routine, the possibilities are numerous. The goal is to select exercises and stretches that require different movements, muscle groups and stamina. You can easily tailor your cross-training schedule to match your needs and interests, mix and match sports, days, increments and speed regularly. For example, yogis may want to incorporate strength training, running and swimming into their weekly rotation.
Here’s a sample cross-training schedule to get you started:
- Monday: Lift (sprints + focus on arms)
- Tuesday: Swim laps for at least 20 minutes
- Wednesday: Rest Day
- Thursday: Rollerblade
- Friday: Leg day (sprints + lifting)
- Saturday: Play a favorite sport (tennis, football, soccer)
- Sunday: Yoga + 30-minute walk or jog
4. Avoid mental fatigue
If you’re enjoying your workouts and the results, stick with what you’re doing. If you find yourself getting bored, you might only need to change one or two variables to keep it interesting for yourself, without having to switch to a completely different program altogether. For recreational exercisers, switching your routine up every four to six weeks is ideal.