When you become obsessed – truly infatuated – with a particular sport or activity, it can quickly force everything else out of your schedule. Most people don’t have oodles of time they can commit to their fitness routine, so why do anything but their favourite sport?
Well, the reasons for doing so are many and varied, starting with the basic fact that even the most committed runner/cyclist/weightlifter will eventually get a little bored with that activity and crave some variety. And even if you’re not tired of your primary sport, cross-training is wise. Here are five reasons why from Mila Lazar, head of HIIT at boutique gym Another_Space.
1. It Improves Your Fitness
A great place to start. It might seem obvious, but doing different exercises improves your fitness in different ways.
“Fitness and strength come in many different forms, so mixing and matching your exercises will help improve power and efficiency,” says Lazar.
“By mixing a variety of cardio, strength and stretching into your workout regime you’ll be working a mix of muscles and ensuring overall fitness.”
2. It Helps Prevent Injury
“By mixing up your workouts, you’ll be able to avoid injuries that arise from the overuse of certain muscles,” says Lazar.
This can be especially important if you’re a dedicated runner, because it’s a sport that hits certain parts of the body hard every time you pound the pavements. Improving strength in the supporting leg and core muscles can help you avoid overuse injuries.
3. It Improves Posture And Co-ordination
“Not only can the overuse of muscles cause injury, it can also cause the body to have an over-reliance on particular areas of the body to compensate for the injured parts,” says Lazar.
Cross-training can help reduce or remove any imbalances in the muscles in your body by working on the areas not used so much during your main activity.
4. It Boosts Mental Strength
Cross-training isn’t only good for your physical health. Mixing up your training can also help you maintain good mental health.
“Physical activity can help improve one’s mental clarity through the release of endorphins,” says Lazar. “Different types of activity can either help one find calm in a hectic life or find release after a stressful day.”
For example, if you’re keen on taking some time to yourself to gradually ease away any stress from your daily life, you might fancy a long solo run or a yoga session. On other occasions, if you’re feeling especially frustrated after a day at the office, you might want to punch out those aggravations and clear your head with a HIIT boxing session.
5. You’ll Recover Faster
Whatever your preferred sport is, you have to take some rest days to recover and get the most out of your training. These rest days are a great opportunity to try another activity.
“One of the best benefits of cross-training is that it allows you to try active recovery alongside periods of outright rest, which again can improve fitness and help avoid injury,” says Lazar.
“Yoga is a great option for active recovery because it helps increase blood flow to fatigued muscles, allowing any tension or soreness to be removed more effectively.”