Spice up Your Fitness through Cross Training

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.”

William Cowper (English poet)

Humans are creatures of habit and habits serve us well when they make us disciplined.  Once we become comfortable with doing things a certain way, many of us just keep chugging along.  It’s easy; you know what you’re doing; and it doesn’t take as much effort as it did the first couple of times.  Practice makes perfect!Fullimage_009

On the downside, doing the same thing can get you in a rut.  Adventure, and the discovery of new things that comes along with it, can bring excitement and a renewed appreciation for the old with the new.

These extremes are applicable to both nutrition and fitness.  If we surveyed you about what foods you typically eat, most of you would have a handful of items on that list.  Many of us don’t need a grocery list each week because we buy the same stuff. Consuming different foods takes intention and effort.  It is also an ongoing experiment as we need to learn how to cook the new foods and find out whether we even like them.

IMG_2610The same goes with fitness activities.  Most of us find an activity or two that we like and pursue them on a regular basis.  This is good as we become competent at those activities.  If we continue to challenge ourselves in those activities we can get even better at them.  For example, if you are a runner, you know that varying your running from steady state runs to faster runs can improve your speed, while changing up shorter intense runs to longer ones can improve your endurance.  In these cases you are working on increasing depth in your sport as you vary the workouts!

Add Breadth to Fitness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreadth in fitness is also important.  What happens when you join a friend on an activity you normally don’t do, like riding a bike or swimming?  Do you find yourself winded?  Struggling to keep up?  Even if you do keep up, do you find you are sore the next day?  That soreness may be a sign that you used muscles you normally don’t use.

If living a well-rounded fit life is your goal, then think about adding variety to your fitness routine.  Athletes talk about variety as cross-training, i.e. doing something outside of their sport to train body parts normally not emphasized by their sport.

We discussed different types of workouts in our blog post about making a plan to get fit (https://aspireperspirenourish.com/2013/04/27/want-to-get-fit-make-a-plan/).  Engaging in different fitness aspects like cardiovascular, strength training, flexibility/core is one way of adding variety to your fitness routine.  Another way is to do different activities within each aspect.  For example, if you normally run for 30 minutes 3 times per week for your cardio training, then maybe run twice per week and swim laps one day.IMG_2787 IMG_2788

There are endless opportunities for adding variety.  The following is just a finite list of different activities.  Although we’ve put them in discreet categories, some of the fitness activities fall into more than one area.

Variety of Activities - Cross Training.001

Important Benefits

If you don’t care much about keeping up with your friends, then care about being injury free.  Besides providing all-around good fitness, cross training can help you avoid injuries that are caused by repetitive strain or impact.  Every sport or fitness activity has its Achilles Heel, if done too frequently.  For instance, runners are prone to hamstring tightness, knee injuries, and plantar fasciitis; tennis players can have issues with tennis elbow; cyclists may experience hand numbness and knee issues.  When you vary your activities and workouts, you lessen your chances of typical injuries by giving your body a break and using different muscles.Kai 8th birthday banff pictures 073

Another benefit of cross training is experiencing a mental break and increased motivation.  As we alluded to earlier, too much of the same thing can lead to repetitive numbness!  Adding a different activity in your fitness routine allows your brain to switch gears, building different connections between neurons and growing brain cells.  Behaviorally, you can feel more motivated for your primary fitness activity when you break it up with other fun workouts.  Feeling refreshed, you can tackle your fitness goal with more zest!

Brianna photoGetting Started

Brianna Reid is our featured trainer this week.  She kindly provided a workout that you can add to your weekly routine.  Adapt this workout for an activity you normally don’t do.  For example, if you typically run, then do this workout using an elliptical machine.


Use any fitness equipment; 30 – 40 minute workout, including warm up and cool down

Warmup:  5-10 minutes

  • 3 x 2 minutes sprint, tension but not overly hard with 30 second rest in between;
  • 2 minutes moderate pace;
  • 3 x 1 minute high resistance with 1 minute easy;
  • 2 minutes moderate pace;
  • 2 x 4 minutes medium resistance sprint with 2 minutes rest;
  • 2 minutes moderate pace;

Cool down: 5 – 10 minutes.

Notes:  At moderate intensity your breathing and heart rate should rise but you should still be able to speak.  Play around with the tension (resistance) of the equipment and the intensity of your pace.  At the end of the workout you should feel like you can’t do even 5 more minutes on the machine.


Brianna’s Message

Be creative in building your own workout routine…

Recipe of the Week:  Pumpkin Pancakes

About aspireperspirenourish

We are sisters who share a passion for healthy living! Each of us brings different knowledge and skills to this project, some similar experiences and a whole lot of shared passion for mindful, fit and nutritious living. This blog is our way of spreading our knowledge and passion about motivation, fitness and nutrition for everyday living. It is also our forum for finding like-minded people from whom we can learn. To learn more about us, please see our "About" page.
This entry was posted in Fitness Tips, Weekly Blogs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spice up Your Fitness through Cross Training

  1. Pingback: Spice up Your Fitness through Cross Training | Abundant Wellness

  2. Pingback: 6-Week Half-Marathon Training Plan | Aspire, Perspire, Nourish Yourself

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