There are many ways to establish a fitness routine. It depends on what opportunities you have for physical activity in your area, how often you workout, whether you workout alone, with a friend, or as a group, and many other considerations. Whether you’re kick-starting a fitness routine or updating your regular routine, one of the best workout choices you can make for your full-body strength and endurance is diversity in your forms of exercise. Here’s how diversifying your routine can boost your strength, endurance, and reduce your chance of injuries.
The Fitness Plateau
After completing the same exercise often, your body builds the strength and muscle to complete the same physical activity without exerting as much effort. Your fitness essentially plateaus, meaning that you won’t see the same muscle and endurance gains from your regular exercise as you did when you first started. It also makes it harder for you to make the jump to a new achievement along your fitness journey, whether it’s reaching a new one-rep maximum, distance while cycling, or points scored in a game.
Full-Body Strength vs. Targeted Strength
When you workout, you make the choice of how to exercise and which muscle groups you’re working. So your fitness routine determines how well-rounded your strength is. This doesn’t apply only to weightlifting, either. If your favorite way to exercise is a long run but you don’t supplement your running with other forms of exercise, you’ll have targeted strength in the muscles you use to run but other supporting muscles may grow weak and prone to injury.
While we all have our workout favorites, diversifying your fitness routine helps ensure you’re strengthening your body holistically. Full-body fitness gives every muscle group the strength to support you while you’re sitting in a chair at work or exercising in the gym. And full-body strength doesn’t necessarily mean full-body workouts or bodyweight exercises, although both are effective fitness options. Going back to our runner’s example, if you exercise most often by running but supplement that with weight-lifting and occasional yoga, you can build full-body strength through more targeted activities. Well-rounded strength can even boost your athletic ability in your favorite workouts.
Cross training is the fitness term for diversifying your workouts. It’s also a specific type of workout in a cross training gym, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Athletes and regular exercisers will use cross training as a way to build full-body strength in order to enhance their ability in a certain activity. Swimmers, for example, have regular ‘dry land’ sessions where they work with body-weight exercises and weights to build targeted strength. That strength then helps them swim even faster in the pool.
Cross training is most effective when it supports another form of fitness you do regularly. Typically, it’s a workout designed to build aerobic endurance or increase strength in a way that contributes to your main form of exercise. By working different muscles in new ways, you can avoid the plateauing mentioned earlier and continue to push the limits of your fitness achievements. Cross training can also help you reduce your workout recovery time and reduce injuries.
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