You Thought You Were in Shape…
So you can bench press a Buick, and you think you’re strong. One day a friend asks you to join them for a workout using a climbing rope and other body resistance type exercises. Not only can you barely make it up the rope, but you can’t move the next day!
Or maybe you’re a long distance runner and one day a friend invited you to swim some laps in the pool, after which your muscles were fatigued, and you were completely winded. Now you’re wondering, “What happened? I thought I was in shape!”
The Body is Built for Cross Training
Raw strength doesn’t always equate to fitness. If you’re not accustomed to certain movements and exercises, it’s likely you’ll experience muscle soreness and fatigue that seem disproportionate to your level of exertion. However, the opposite is also true. Your body will become extremely efficient when performing specific movements day in and day out, which is ideal if you are an athlete looking to engrain perfect form, motion, and muscle memory into your neuromuscular system. This is just one reason why consistent exercise is much more beneficial to the body than sporadic, infrequent activities.
The downside to doing the same thing over and over is that your body will get used to your routine and begin to plateau. This is why cross-training is an absolute must! We are designed to move in a variety of ways, from running, jumping, pushing, rowing, bending, twisting, swimming, etc. By cross training, which promotes movement diversity, we continue to write new patterns into our muscle memory. This improves our health and makes us more adaptive and functional, not just as athletes but, as human beings.
Making Workouts Work for You
An additional benefit of cross training is that it makes regular exercise easier for people of all fitness and experience levels. It’s easier to get discouraged when you feel pain after sporadic and random activity. You might not want to try again. But if you find a few different things you enjoy and put them into regular rotation, you’ll condition your body and find that exercise is not only enjoyable, but easier than you thought.
A workout buddy or a personal trainer can help keep you accountable and ensure that you’re mixing up your workouts, diversifying your motion, and maximizing your results. Below are some of the benefits of incorporating a diverse fitness regimen into your lifestyle:
• Reduces the risk of injury
• Produces a higher level of overall conditioning
• Promotes total body fitness
• Improves speed, strength, endurance, stability, balance, agility, and flexibility
• Enhances your specific skills
• Improves brain function
• Increases ability to learn and retain information
• Regulates inflammation
• Improves the transmission of signals within cells
• Helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Mix it Up!
Doing the same thing repeatedly over long periods of time can ultimately lead to injury, boredom, and poor health. So mix it up: one day you can do resistance training, another day you can try wind sprints, add in some swimming, dance, learn a martial art, do yoga… the key is to find a few things you enjoy, stick with them, and become a functional, healthy human being again.