“Sport is a terrible idea, it makes you put on weight when you stop.” - Michèle Bernier
In a roundabout way, this French comedian has hit the nail on the head when it comes to talking about the benefits of sport: losing weight, getting fit, and building muscle, there are plenty of good reasons to regularly exercise.
Nearly 1/4 British people never do any exercise. Only 16% of those that do exercise actually exercise at least once a week. In fact, 23% of people said they would do their utmost to avoid doing any sport. That said, more and more people are deciding to enjoy the benefits of CrossFit and cross-training.
In this article, we're looking at the benefits of cross-training, the reasons you should do it, and the positive effects that it'll have your body and mind.
So Why Should You Do Cross-Training?
A lot of people get the terms CrossFit and cross-training confused.
CrossFit as a sporting discipline originated in the United States and involves activities from several different types of sports and disciplines. The main reason most people decide to take up CrossFit of cross-training is to get back in shape.
Whether you want to get slim, to tone your muscles, or just get more self-confidence, there are plenty of reasons to take up cross-training.
Practising sports, and that includes doing cross-training, promotes the release of happiness hormones, the chemicals responsible for our feelings of happiness: endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin.
Whether you're doing a bit of skipping with a skipping rope, squats, sit-ups, or press ups, each training session will improve your metabolic function.
Endorphins, for example, can improve your wellbeing by making you feel calmer and less stressed after just 30 minutes of physical exertion. Physical activities promote the release of these hormones and, as a result, will leave you feeling better. This means that sporting activities come with physical and mental benefits.
Firstly, cross-training allows you to tone your muscles, lose weight, get a flat stomach, sculpt your biceps and triceps, improve your mood, and nurture better social relations thanks to oxytocin. Those who practice a physical activity regularly know just how enjoyable this feeling is.
Furthermore, cross-training allows you to improve your physical condition which, in turn, will improve your physical performance in other sports. There are plenty of great reasons to start doing cross-training at the gym.
You can make quick progress with enjoyable cross-training sessions conducted by a qualified and experienced fitness coach. Skipping, cycling, or rowing in a gym are all great ways to improve your physical well-being. However, practising cross-training comes with all the benefits of these activities and more.
You just have to make sure that you are motivated.
There are plenty of different types of cross-training exercises which are ideal for improving your sporting performance, toning your muscles, losing weight, and making you feel happier.
CrossFit sessions include high-intensity workouts that require you have a good understanding of how to do them and a good technique in order to make sure that you don't have aches and pains the following day.
Find a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals.
The Advantages of Cross-Training
So now we know why we should start doing cross-training, but what exactly other benefits?
We've already mentioned that cross-training sessions require you to use several different muscle groups and will improve your endurance, your speed, your cardiovascular performance, your strength, your agility, your coordination, your flexibility, your precision, and your balance.
Cross-training is a well-rounded sports programme that focuses on all muscle groups, cardio fitness, aerobic exercises, etc.
Cross-training creates well-rounded athletes and is a high-intensity interval training programme that involves very short recovery periods. Those who do CrossFit or cross-training tend to have athletes' bodies. Gone are the days of round flabby bodies. Say hello to toned muscles and rock solid abs.
The advantage of cross-training is that it pushes your cardiovascular system to its limit by crossing the anaerobic threshold. This is the threshold where aerobic metabolism is no longer possible and your body needs to call upon ATP in order to activate the muscles. This level of activity can leave your muscles aching from the lactic acid produced. The goal is to pass the anaerobic threshold by intensifying your training, thereby reducing the recovery period necessary.
Another advantage of cross-training is that you can do it at your house, without a fitness coach, or almost anywhere else. You can alter all the physical activities according to your age, your physical condition, and your skill level.
Get as fit as ever with a personal trainer.
Additionally, cross-training doesn't require a lot of equipment and won't cost an absolute fortune to start doing. In fact, you can get started with just a few kettlebells, for example. Cross-training allows you to build muscle and burn fat from the comfort of your own home.
The Effects of Cross-Training on Your Body
In a scientific study carried out on a group of teenagers who participated in a CrossFit programme twice a week for eight weeks, their health drastically improved.
There is, therefore, a huge physical benefit to doing CrossFit.
But are there any risks to doing intensive exercise for 30, 40, or 60 minutes?
A number of critics have stated that cross-training comes with a number of risks for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Of course, you improve your heart rate by training and improve your recovery speed. However, the intense series of movements and the stress placed on your part also have inherent risks. For example, the risk of muscular of vascular injury is increased.
Secondly, there is an inherent risk when doing any sport without supervision. For example, if you're practising cross-training at home with the help of an online video, you may attempt to do techniques that are beyond your skill level.
Exercises for toning your muscles are always beneficial for in your body. However, if you are overweight are not very physically active, the risk is greater.
Additionally, the exercise is required during cross-training sessions can put a lot of strain on your back and, if you don't do them correctly, can aggravate back problems.
CrossFit tends to include intensive exercise with little recovery time. Those with cardiovascular diseases may need to make sure that they include more recovery time between physical exertion.
You need to, therefore, make sure that you don't exhaust yourself right at the very start of your cross-training session. However, you can't deny that this physical activity will have an immediate effect on your metabolism and the number of calories that you burn.
In 2012, a team of Australian researchers published a study on the effects of CrossFit and an HIIT training programme for young overweight men.
For 12 weeks, 46 young overweight men took part in CrossFit sessions. The divided the sample into two groups: 25 men doing the exercises and a group of 21 men who didn't do any physical activity.
At the end of three months, the HIIT programme had led to a significant improvement in their physical capabilities and their anaerobic threshold.
The study showed " the reduction in fat was associated with glucidic and lipid metabolism and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular illnesses".
Another study carried out in 2008 on overweight woman showed that after 15 weeks of intensive training, participants lost on average 2.5 kg whereas those that did no anaerobic exercise did not lose any weight.
If you're interested in getting started with cross-training or CrossFit, you should look for private tutors or fitness coaches. With your own personal coach, you can get sessions that are tailored to your age, weight, and fitness.
Additionally, private fitness tutorials can be scheduled around your work and family life, focus on your own personal fitness goals, and be done from the comfort of your own home.
With that said, you can also do cross-training sessions with a fitness trainer at a gym or even their home if they have better exercise equipment.
If you can't seem to find any private fitness instructors living near you or would like to save money, you should consider looking for online fitness tutorials. This is when your instructor teaches you via webcam with a programme such as Skype. Since the tutor doesn't have any travel costs, they can charge less per hour for their tutorials and still earn a living.
Finally, you can always get a few friends together and do your cross-training sessions in small groups. Tutors and coaches often reduce the cost per person as they'll still earn more per hour and each attendee can enjoy a discount for their cross-training sessions.
The ideal choice is whatever works best for you!