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Rev up your fitness

Cross-training involves including different types of exercise in your fitness routine. Whether you've just joined a gym or are a seasoned athlete, cross-training spices up your routine, helps you break through fitness plateaus, and can help you reach your goals.

Why cross-train?

Woman stretchingYou might really love a particular sport, or if you're an athlete, you train to get better to compete. While that's great, training in only 1 sport limits your overall fitness. It reduces your conditioning because your body gets used to — and becomes efficient at — your sport's specific movements. Rather than continuing to improve, you stay at a certain level of fitness.

Cross-training limits the stress on a particular muscle group because different sports use different muscles in slightly different ways. For example, you may bike and swim each week as alternatives to running. You're still using some of the same muscles, but you're using them in a different way, so you continue building muscle strength and aerobic fitness. Cross-training:

  • reduces your risk of injury
  • works some muscles while others rest and recover
  • improves your skill, agility, and balance
  • conditions your whole body, so your overall fitness improves
  • allows you to continue training if you're injured
  • keeps your routine fresh and interesting
  • gives you a choice of workouts when your schedule changes

Mix it up

Choose a fun mix of sports, and change them up often. When you cross-train, you can do one type of exercise each day, or more than one in a day. If you do both on the same day, you can change up the order. Try a fitness plannerKaiser Permanente is not responsible for the content or policies of external Internet sites, or mobile apps. to help you get more from your cross-training.

Learn new skills

Not sure which cross-training activities are right for you? Check out our list of fitness activities or search our health classes.

Source: Adapted with permission from Group Health Cooperative.

Reviewed by: Craig Robbins, MD, November 2018