Guest Author - Patricia Mitchell
Cross training is a great way to improve overall fitness and performance. If you do repetitive activities over an extended period of time, you have an increased risk of developing an overuse injury. Regardless if you are a professional athlete, a bodybuilder, or stay at home mom, you need to cross train. The key is to incorporate variety in your fitness training to avoid fitness plateaus and to help prevent muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.
Over time your work, lifestyle factors, and recreational activities, can affect your general health and well being. Employment can lead to overuse injuries, particularly if you have a job that requires constant bending leading to back issues, or a computer programmer who develops carpal tunnel syndrome due to frequent keyboard use. Sports enthusiasts or runners often have knee problems due to constant pounding of the joints over the years. These repetitive activities can create muscle imbalances that can result in overuse injuries over time. Therefore, it's important to focus on prevention by cross training to specifically work opposing muscle groups and strengthening areas of weakness.
Cross training should include weight training, cardiovascular exercise, and flexibility training. Furthermore, it is important to vary each workout component on a regular basis. The key is to strengthen areas of weakness by varying your methods of training and improve overall fitness. It's essential to plan your workouts to ensure a well balanced fitness program. For instance if you have a job that involves heavy lifting and you suffer from weak back muscles; make sure to include strength and flexibility training to strengthen back and core muscles.
If your workouts are all cardio based, make sure to balance the types of cardio you do on a frequent basis. For instance, a runner should vary their cardio work with non-impact cardio activities like biking or elliptical, and include strength and flexibility work in their program. Weight training enthusiasts should include cardio and flexibility work in their training programs. Therefore, if you generally perform a specific activity, such as biking, running or weight training, make sure you balance your workouts with different activities to avoid muscle imbalance and overuse injuries.
A workout plan can help ensure that you have a well rounded program that includes stretching, weight training, and cardiovascular work. If you do random workouts every week you run the risk of over-training some body parts and neglecting other areas, setting you up for muscle imbalance and injury. A fitness plan can help you fit exercise into your schedule, increase workout accountability, and help you to plan variety in your program. Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week and make sure to include cardiovascular work 2-3 times per week, weight training 2-3 times on non-consecutive days and flexibility training 3-5 times per week. Consult a certified personal trainer if you are new to fitness or unsure how to schedule your workouts.
If you donít have knowledge of what exercises to do, or understand correct form and technique, your workouts will be ineffective, inefficient, and you risk injury. A certified fitness trainer can create a well balanced fitness program designed to fit your particular needs. Typically, they can look at your lifestyle and make recommendations according to your job, your current fitness activities, and look at possible muscle imbalances and areas of weakness. This can help them develop a program to help improve your fitness level and help to prevent injuries.
If you have a job that requires a lot of bending over and strain to the back, a trainer can put together a program that includes core work to strengthen the back and abdominals. If you are a runner, you may have tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, which can lead to poor performance and injuries. A trainer can make sure you incorporate other types of activities, such as yoga and weight training, that will work on flexibility in the hamstrings and increased strength in the quadriceps. The key is to design a well rounded program that will strengthen the heart, muscles, and increase flexibility.
Muscle confusion is simply changing your workouts on a consistent basis to prevent plateaus and adaptation. If you constantly do the same exercise week after week, your body becomes adapted to this activity. You will develop strength specific to the exercise you are doing. However, repeated use of these same muscles and joints can lead to some over developed muscles in some parts of the body and weak underdeveloped muscles in other areas. A good time frame for changing your workout routine is every 4 to 6 weeks. For instance, if your current weight training workout is heavy weights, you could switch to increased reps and lighter weights the following month. If you are a runner, you could do long runs for 4 weeks and then switch to a month of shorter and faster interval runs. This creates muscle confusion and is great for increasing overall fitness and performance.
Our bodies adapt to the activities we do on a frequent basis. This can lead to plateaus, muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. Many people suffer from muscle imbalances, back issues, and joint pain caused by years of stress and poor body mechanics related to lifestyle activities. Cross training can help increase your fitness level and help prevent injuries. Include all the major components of fitness when planning your workouts. Make sure to include cardiovascular work and strength and flexibility training in your fitness program. Hire a certified personal trainer if you need help to determine your fitness needs. A fitness professional can evaluate your current fitness routine and create a workout routine to offset areas of weakness and to help avoid potential overuse injuries.