Picking a Main Sport or Activity

Most of us have one activity that we like and want to center our exercise schedules around. Picking this central exercise is helpful in cross-training because it gives our workouts a focus around which we can plan our other activities. The point of cross-training is to balance your activities so that you have cardio, strength, and mind-body/flexibility workouts in your schedule.

For example, let's say you want walking to be your main sport. In that case, you're not going to choose running as your other sport because that isn't really cross-training (since both are cardiovascular workouts). Instead, you'll want to find a way to incorporate strength training (maybe weight training or yoga), some flexibility (yoga or dancing, perhaps), and maybe some mind-body work (could also be yoga, or maybe meditation and Pilates) into your schedule.

Picking a main activity doesn't mean you have to become an expert at that one thing, or that you even have to do it more often than you do your other activities. It is simply a way to organize your workout schedule so that you create a program that is properly balanced. Diversifying your activities helps you to enjoy the positive points of all the things you choose.

Of course, you can still do another cardio activity when you don't feel like walking. One or two swims a week along with your walks are obviously wonderful, but what you're looking for above all when you cross-train is a program that is balanced and makes your body stronger, leaner, and more refined, not a program that stresses your body in the same way during each workout.

Benefits of Different Activities

Every sport has its own set of benefits, as well as elements of fitness that it doesn't address or improve. Here are some sports and the ways they improve fitness.

Aerobic

Weight Bearing

Muscular Strength/Endurance

Flexibility

Caloric Expenditure

Swimming

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Good

Biking

Yes

No

Lower and some upper

Some

Good

Running

Yes

Yes

Lower and some upper

Some

Best

Yoga

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Weight training

Can be

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Pilates

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Kickboxing

Yes

Yes

Yes

A little

Yes

Of course, all activities accomplish more than one goal. When you take a walk, for example, you not only burn fat and make your heart stronger, but you also strengthen your leg, glute, and ab muscles, as well as build bone. So, it's fairly easy to pick three or four exercise types (such as yoga, running, and Pilates) and create a schedule that includes them all in an order that gives you the results you want.

Cross-training increases the chance of weight loss by including both cardiovascular and strength-training work, which maximizes calorie burning both during the activity and over the course of a day. Also, cross-training will help you get better at each of your activities because the benefits of each carries over to every sport. Finally, cross-training helps prevent overuse injuries.

Other Cross-training Benefits

Besides making your workout schedule interesting and fun, cross-training has other benefits. It gives you lots of options if the weather, your mood, or your schedule doesn't cooperate with your plans. You can even include group activities, which allows you to meet lots of different people.

Another benefit is that you can rotate activities in and out of your schedule; for example, you can swim in the summer and take aerobics class in the winter. Likewise, you can adapt your routine over long periods of time, as you age, or as the seasons change.

  1. Home
  2. Easy Fitness
  3. Cross-training
  4. Picking a Main Sport or Activity
Visit other About.com sites: