April 23, 2004, Newsletter Issue #183: Crosstraining, part two

Tip of the Week

Another big benefit of cross training is that it keeps you and your body interested. If you`re in an exercising slump, a great way to inspire yourself is to try something new. Similarly, if your fitness level has reached a plateau, a new routine is a great way to bump you in the right direction.

But patience is key to this technique. When faced with a new physical challenge, your body develops a whole new set of neuromuscular patterns, called engrams. This adaptive phase can take from 2 to 10 weeks. It`s once these engrams are working that the body tends to experience dramatic growth. With this in mind, when you do cross train to beat a plateau, it`s important to stick with your new workout for a little while to see the best results.

One final benefit of cross training is that it can keep you fit in times of injury. A baseball player with a wrist injury can keep his cardiovascular system up while recovering by jogging, provided, of course, he properly supports his wrist. A great example of this is Rafer Johnson, an Olympic decathlete who hit the gym excessively when a serious injury kept him from running. As a result, he became the strongest decathlete in history. When his speed came back, his added strength enabled him to win a gold medal. So just because you`re down, doesn`t always mean you`re out.

Picking the right form of cross training is relatively simple. You don`t need to hit your cross training activities as hard as you hit your primary activities. If it`s just a matter of getting more cardio, three 30- to 45-minute jogs, swims, or bike rides a week will go a long way. If you`re an aerobic exerciser looking for some anaerobic activity and you just don`t have a clue, one visit with a personal trainer should set you straight. Several of Beachbody`s programs, including Power 90® and P90X™ also have fantastic full-body circuit routines.

Cross training muscle groups is just a matter of observation. Target muscles you aren`t using and develop a light routine using those muscles. Once again, if needed, a quick visit with a personal trainer will go a long way, as will looking into Beachbody programs such as Power Half Hour™ or Ho Ala ke Kino. Or this might be time to consider taking up yoga or Pilates—two forms of exercise that specialize in balancing muscle groups.

When you start a new form of exercise, be careful. Give yourself time to adapt, but once you do, go for it and have a blast. You, my friend, have just become a complete athlete.

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