Most people are well aware of the benefits of exercise for not just the body, but also the mind and soul. We often find something we like, establish a routine, and not vary too far from it. I am as guilty of this as anyone! And while this is markedly better than not exercising at all, there’s a substantial argument in health and fitness for cross-training, or the practice of mixing exercise activities. It can be ideal to incorporate into your exercise regimen for a variety of reasons, beginning simply with novelty.
Doing the same routine every day can get tedious, which can lead to finding excuses not to work out. Simply stated: cross-training keeps you from getting bored! Different types of exercise can offer different feelings of exertion and gratification, helping to keep you motivated. This is why in LYT Yoga, we have you change direction on your mat regularly, keeping the perspective fresh and helping to keep you from getting bored.
Cross-training also allows you to seamlessly adjust your plan when life gets in the way. We’re all going to have those days where we simply don’t have 60 minutes to spend exercising. Opting for a 30 minute HIIT class or going for a run can give you the same bang for your buck when you’re short on time.
Including cross-training into your fitness program allows you to vary the stress placed on your muscles and reduce the risk of injury, as well. Any time one type of exercise is performed repeatedly, the possibility of injury increases. If there is no change or chance to rest, there is a higher risk of sprains and strains. Cross-training allows you to continue exercising parts of your body while the other parts rest.
While months of doing the same movements, again and again, can be beneficial for sports and competition, it can significantly limit the level of your overall fitness and wellbeing. If the frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise never changes, the body plateaus and has no reason to become more efficient or more fit. Stagnant routines cause stagnant metabolism. If the body has become used to the energy and task requirement, caloric expenditure will not increase. On the other hand, if we cross-train, the body must continually make adjustments, more energy is required to meet these needs, and metabolism and fitness increases.
Finally, by cross-training, you can strengthen and condition your entire body in multiple planes of motion to improve your overall mobility, balance, flexibility, and agility. We need a variety of movements in our bodies in the same way we need variety in our diet. If you do the same exercise regimen every day, it would be kind of like eating the same meal every day. You wouldn’t get all the nutrients your body needs.
This matters at a genetic level as well, for the genes associated with how healthy and fit you are get expressed in your muscles. Research from 2014 on the programming of the human genome and human skeletal muscle after exercise found that training actually changes the shape and function of our genes. If certain muscle groups are left unused, those genes for health and fitness are left unexpressed. Which is why cross-training is so important. It maximizes the number of muscles used and therefore, the number of health and fitness genes triggered.
The LYT Yoga Method already requires moving the body in multiple planes of motion, utilizing plyometrics, core strengthening, and stability work to maximize the effects of cross-training in a yoga platform. On the LYT Daily, we offer HIIT, resistance bands strengthening, and stretch classes as well. Next month, we are launching our 6-week Build Your Capacity Program, which will be available to all people of all fitness levels. With daily classes that build in length and intensity level, it utilizes the concepts of cross-training and works towards building better habits both on and off the mat. Keep an eye out and join us! Until then, I’ll see you on the mat!