May 27, 2022 3 min read

Variety is the spice of life, so add some to your sporting schedule.

If you’re struggling to find the the motivation or the time to undertake your favourite kind of exercise, the idea of fitting in some cross-training as well might seem laughable. While you might dabble with a few different sports, especially when you’re trying to get fit after a lay-off, once you settle on something you like it’s easy to just do that activity to the exclusion of all others.

That’s certainly better than doing nothing at all, of course – a lot better, in fact – but better still is to schedule in one or two sessions a week of cross-training. The reasons for doing so are many and varied, but let’s start with the most basic one of all: no matter how much you love running/swimming/weightlifting/trampolining, it will almost certainly get slightly dull eventually and a little variety is a great way to get over that. And even if that’s not the case, you should still make time for cross-training, if only because it will almost certainly make you better at your preferred type of exercise.

Here’s Mila Lazar, head of HIIT at boutique gym Another_Space, with five reasons why everyone should make the time for cross-training.

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.”

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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