Skip to main content

What is cross training and how to use it to maximize strength (and minimize injuries)

What is cross training and how to use it to maximize strength (and minimize injuries)
Whether you’re a runner or a tennis player, a weekend warrior or a competitive athlete, the risk of injury is always there. While you can never eliminate the risk entirely, there are some things you can do to minimize the impact of injuries or help avoid them.
One of the best ways to maintain strength while giving your body a break is through cross training. Cross training uses activities outside normal drills and exercises tied to your specific sport to achieve overall conditioning. These exercises give the muscles, tendons, bones, joints, and ligaments a brief break from the impact of sport by targeting muscles from a different angle or resistance and work to balance an athlete.
What exercises are involved in cross training?
Any exercise or activity can be used for cross training as long as it’s not a skill associated with that particular sport. Weight training, for example, is a commonly used cross training tool to build or maintain strength. Swimming, cycling, running, and even skiing are activities that can also be used for cross training. Circuit training and plyometrics are becoming popular again as cross training tools.
How does cross training prevent injury?
Cross training introduces several exercises into a workout routine, giving your muscles variety. That variety is one of the most important factors for preventing injury. Without variety, you can develop imbalances in strength and flexibility, which can put uneven stress on muscles and joints.
Cross training also gives you training flexibility. Because you’re incorporating various exercises into your routine, you can shift from running to swimming when the weather is bad, from swimming to weight training if the pool is closed, etc. In addition, cross training also:
● Allows you to continue to train while injured
● Conditions the entire body, not just specific muscle groups
● Improves skill, agility, and balance
● Produces a higher level of all-around conditioning
● Works some muscles while others rest and recover
How often should you cross train?
Depending on your current workout schedule and the amount of time you have, aim to cross train at least once or twice a week in addition to or in place of your usual routine. You can do one form of exercise each day, or more than one in a day.
If you do both on the same day, change the order in which you do them. You can easily tailor cross training to your needs and interests; mix and match your sports and change your routine on a regular basis.
As with any exercise routine, you should talk to your doctor before getting started. If you’re concerned about how your body may respond to cross training and how it fits into your exercise regime, you may want to visit an orthopaedic specialist.
Dr. Russell Ellis of DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine specializes in rehabilitation and non-surgical treatment of sports-related injuries. His goal is to provide ongoing medical treatment and guidance for athletes to recover quickly and fully from sports-related injuries and avoid surgical solutions whenever possible.
Raised in Morgan County, Dr. Ellis is a graduate of Danville High School and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, serving as Chief Resident his final year.
After residency, Dr. Ellis spent an additional year as a Sports Medicine Fellow at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham and trained under Dr. Tracy Ray and renowned sports medicine physician, Dr. James Andrews. He currently serves as team physician for several area high schools and Calhoun Community College. He has a current Clinical Faculty appointment for the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and has served as an Oral Board examiner for the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Ellis and his wife have been blessed with three children and are glad to call the north Alabama area home.
Reach out to Dr. Ellis and the rest of the team of sports medicine pros at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine by calling 256-350-0362.

Share This