Cross training

Written by Spence

15th April 2021

I’d like to go into what I see as cross training and how I think the term has become slightly confusing over the years I’ve been working in this industry.

When I talk about ‘cross training’ I’m not talking about:

  1. a) A cardio machine found in lots of commercial gyms
  2. b) A certain type of class – think terms like HIIT etc
  3. c) Training when you are angry 🙂

What I’m talking about is how to mix up your training to illicit a wide range of different fitness outcomes. A good cross training plan can help with all manner of fitness / body shape type goals and has some key benefits – at least in my experience!

  1. More variety equals better client adherence – simply put,  the broader the spectrum of exercises and training styles the better past clients seem to be at sticking with their programmes.
  2. Less overtraining niggles and injuries – the more you perform a given task the more proficient you may become doing it BUT you can very easily slip into overuse which in turn causes / exaggerates injuries.
  3. A wider fitness level allowing you to take on challenges – think good all rounder rather specialised 

I wanted to go into a little more detail as to how to set this kind of training up as it’s not always clear. I thought the easiest way was to go over my training week..

A cross training week training plan:

Monday – 6km Weighted Trail run / walk (mainly cardio – around 50 mins

Tuesday – Mixed circuit session (mixed cardio / resistance – around 30 mins)

Wednesday – Aerobic bike session (cardio – around 45 mins)

Thursday – Resilience / Fastest lap circuit (mixed cardio / resistance – around 30 mins)

Friday – Weights session (resistance – around 60 mins)

Sat / Sun – low strain / recovery walks etc

the above works well for me as I have no fixed ‘goal’ at the moment – if i could give it some kind of purpose it would be to stay at a good all round level of strength and fitness.  The plan has:

  • Some resistance work to keep / build strength (I won’t lie, it also is the biggest help with aesthetics)
  • Some varied aerobic work at different intensities / formats to keep my heart and lung function in good nick.
  • Some random circuit style sessions to help keep me adaptable to new situations and to add variation. 

My plan might look at first glance to be quite random but keep in mind that is a performed weekly and will continue for months. It follows the same format each week and importantly it has progression. By progression I mean I monitor what I do and push to improve in some way each week.  That might be slightly heavier weights / more reps / faster time / longer distance etc etc.  This is a MASSIVE part of any successful programme and can be an issue if people don’t monitor or plan for it. How to best do that is further down the rabbit hole than i want to go today – another time.

40RTY group sessions can make up part of a good cross training plan but they have to be carefully considered and planned for.  Simply showing up a few times (or worse, daily) each week and ‘beasting’ yourself is not the answer to long term, improved fitness / weight loss etc. That might sound an odd thing to say as someone that runs the programme but it is true and core belief of 40RTY is transparency. If you just want to show up, do the classes and go that’s of course fine – you are exercising which is still great for your overall health, BUT, you are not training and you will be missing out on far superior results. Instead of just randomly doing classes, think about building them into a weekly plan like i have with my 2 circuit sessions.  I enjoy the variety of the circuit training sessions and they still help my long term fitness – but only because I’ve planned them into my ‘bigger picture’ training programme.

After reading this post, sit down and plan out your week/ Look at how you currently train.  If cross training and the benefits that go with it are to work then you will need to include a strength training day and a purely aerobic day along with your more random circuit training days. Our app has 3 resistance programmes and 2 running (beginner) programmes to help – these are free and available to all. I promise you that in the near on 20 years I’ve been doing this job, those with a plan (a good one) far out perform those without. Taking some time, especially now as we come back out of the last 12 months of hibernation is so important.  Get the most out of your time by ensuring what you are doing is actually of benefit.

Remember, I’m here to help – The whole ethos of this blog is to help people get the most out of their training and in turn, help them move towards their fitness / body shape goals. With that in mind I’d welcome you to ask questions or shout out if things aren’t clear.  I work in this field and am guilty sometimes of glossing over areas that people new to training may be unsure of – nothing is a stupid question so please feel free to get in touch for help.

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