Most athletes focus all their effort into training and excelling in one chosen sport.

Some athletes train using a variety of different activities to enhance performance in their main sport.

Cross-training, which means training in more than one sport, can improve sports performance and fitness.

This article discusses cross-training, what it entails, its benefits, and a few example workouts.

What Is Cross-Training?

Cross-training is using different types of exercise to improve fitness in a specific area.

Cross-training has become popular with athletes from different sports because it offers a well-rounded workout.

When athletes are not focused on a specific sport, they often do cross-training to stay in shape.

Many athletes choose to cross-train due to weather changes with the seasons. When the weather is less favorable for outdoor sports, some athletes may choose indoor variations.

Some common examples of cross-training include:

  • runners use cycling as an alternative exercise to build and maintain endurance
  • swimmers practicing rowing to keep up their exercise capacity and work for similar muscle groups
  • football players run to build endurance or lift weights to build size and strength
  • basketball players participating in a high-intensity spinning class to build power in sprints
  • volleyball players practice yoga to help promote recovery from training

What Makes a Good Cross Training Workout?

– or you can mix things up within each individual session. One of the best ways to stay fit is to have variety in your exercises. This can be done by dedicating each session to one particular form of exercise, or by mixing things up within each session.

You can also do different exercises during one session. For example, you can do 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 10 on the treadmill, 10 on a resistance machine, and so on.

Cross Training at the Gym

The gym is the best place for a workout routine that involves a variety of exercises. You can use elliptical trainers, treadmills, cycling machines, rowing machines, free weights, functional training equipment, and resistance machines. This variety, along with the group fitness classes offered, means you have a great choice of exercises to enjoy as part of your routine.

Cross Training at Home

You don’t need to go to the gym to get a good workout. There are plenty of exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment, such as sit-ups, press-ups, squats, and lunges. Burpees are also a great way to mix up your workout regime. If you have a bike, you can go for a ride, or even just playing football in the back garden counts as exercise.

What are the Benefits of Cross Training?

Cross training is a workout technique that has a variety of benefits, no matter what your goals are. It can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of injury, improve your fitness, and help you stick to your exercise plan.

May Boost Cardiovascular Endurance

training with a new type of exercise can help improve your cardiovascular system, and help you learn new things that can improve your performance in your main sport.

One study compared the left ventricle structure and function in a group of elite swimmers and runners to examine the cardiovascular output in land versus water athletes. The left ventricle is a major part of the heart responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body.

The study found that the runners’ left ventricles functioned slightly differently than the swimmers’; specifically, they filled with blood a bit earlier. However, the swimmers demonstrated higher cardiac output, meaning they pumped more blood at a faster rate.

In an older study, researchers found differences in the way the left ventricle pumped blood in a group of marathon runners (endurance athletes) as compared to bodybuilders (power athletes).

The conclusion that can be drawn from these studies is that by participating in a variety of different types of exercise, you can create a more well-rounded cardiovascular base for both exercise and sport.

Trains Muscle Groups Not Used in the Main Sport

If you engage in cross-training, you can work on muscles that are not often used in your main sport.

A runner who uses swimming as a cross-training activity would strengthen the muscles in their back, which are not commonly used while running.

If a swimmer were to incorporate weightlifting into their training, they would work different leg muscles than they use when swimming.

Doing different types of exercise over time can help you have a better-looking body and be more physically fit overall.

Additionally, you can increase your strength by varying your movements to target different muscle groups. This can also help you gain more power in your movements specific to your sport.

The research showed that when the opposing muscle groups were more mobile, the prime movers had more power.

Allows Recovery From Main Sport

One commonly overlooked area of training is recovery.

An example of how an athlete might maintain their aerobic capacity between games, is by completing a rowing workout.

This enables the muscles in the legs to have a break from high-impact movements, while still getting the heart rate up and maintaining cardio capacity.

If you don’t recover properly, you won’t get the full benefits from your training, and you may be more likely to get injured from too much exercise.

Cross-training can help athletes recover from their main sport while preventing overuse injuries.

You can use this concept for a lot of different sports to help athletes train and recover at the same time.

Keeps You Mentally Engaged

When athletes train hard for one sport, they can get burned out from time to time. It makes sense that this happens, because it takes a lot of time, focus, and determination to do daily training sessions and do well in a sport.

Cross-training can help athletes by providing a new activity and breaking up any monotony they may be experiencing.

This means that when athletes go back to their main sport, they can feel refreshed mentally, which will help them train better.

Improved Weight Loss

Cross-training can help you burn a significant number of calories, which will in turn help you lose weight.

According to research, you are more likely to achieve your weight loss goals if you exercise for longer periods of time (over half an hour) at a moderate intensity. Doing two or more exercises on different machines for 30-45 minutes each workout session is a great way to support your weight loss journey.

You’re More Likely to Stick to Your Exercise Regime

The main benefit of cross-training is that it helps you stick to your workout routine by preventing boredom.

Cross-training is a good way to add variety to your workout routine and reduce your chances of getting injured.

Reduced Risk of Injury

If you workout the same muscle groups using the same mode of exercise, you can get injured from overuse over time.

There are certain injuries that are more common among people who participate in specific sports. For example, runners are more prone to shin splints, and baseball players often suffer from rotator cuff tears.

Cross-training can help reduce stress on an athlete’s most commonly used muscle groups while still allowing them to build aerobic capacity or strength.

This could potentially reduce the athlete’s risk of injury over time, providing them with more opportunity to play their chosen sport.

Improved General Fitness

Cross training is a way to improve your fitness by doing a variety of exercises. This way you work different muscle groups, which improves both your muscular and aerobic fitness. Research indicates that people who do a cross-training regime that includes resistance exercises will see more improvement in their muscle fitness than those who only do strength-training exercises.

Cross Training Activities for Runners

Cross training involves performing a variety of exercises to improve one’s overall fitness and athletic ability. This type of training is often used by athletes who are preparing for a specific sport or event. Cross training can help improve strength, endurance, and flexibility, and can also reduce the risk of injuries. Check them out here:


Playing football is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and get stronger. You’ll cover between three and five miles in a 90-minute match, which is good for your aerobic fitness. Playing also strengthens plenty of different muscle groups. However, there is a chance of knee and ankle injuries when playing football, so you need to be careful.


This is a slightly unusual idea, but it has some advantages. It is like working on an elliptical trainer, with slow, smooth movements of both your arms and legs. This gives you good cardiovascular exercise without putting too much strain on your joints. However, make sure you do not coast too much, or you will not get the full benefit.


If you are looking to add a new activity to your workout routine, you should consider swimming. It is a great way to get a full-body workout and build strength and aerobic fitness. You are also less likely to get injured while swimming because the water supports your joints.


This text is discussing the benefits of hot yoga classes. Hot yoga classes are beneficial for improving flexibility and conditioning, and can also help prepare for a race in a hotter climate.


Tennis is a good form of cross-training for runners because it exercises both the legs and arms. However, runners need to be careful not to overdo it and injure themselves.


A Zumba class can help improve a runner’s cardio fitness and strengthen different muscle groups, including those in the hips. However, too much exertion during class can lead to problems with the calf muscles.


It’s a great workout that gets your heart rate up and doesn’t put too much stress on your joints. That makes it perfect for both people who are just starting to run and for people who are recovering from an injury. But you need to be careful because you can get hurt if you fall, especially if you’re going fast. So make sure you have good safety gear.

The Bottom Line

Cross-training is a common strength and conditioning strategy in which athletes use various modes of exercise outside their main sport to enhance specific components of their fitness. Cross-training allows athletes to focus on key areas of their fitness without overtraining any one specific muscle group.

Cross-training can improve your cardio endurance, unused muscle groups, allow you to recover from your main sport, keep you mentally engaged, and reduce your risk of injury.

When figuring out how much cross-training to do, think about what stage of training you’re in and how experienced you are. Choose activities that will be most beneficial to your main sport.

If you’re finding it difficult to improve your skills in your chosen sport, you could try cross-training to give yourself a help.


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Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

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