By Matt Evans
What's you favourite way to work out? Do you like to go on long, slow runs to take in the scenery in a park or in the city, or do you prefer an in-and-out 20-minute HIIT workout? Perhaps you like to do yoga in your front room, or you enjoy training with weights at the local gym (if it's currently open).
Regardless of which kind of exercise you like to do, if you're only training one or two ways, you could be missing a trick. Cross training, or exercising in lots of different ways, is a great way to keep up your general fitness and develop lots of new skills. It's why the best cross training shoes like the Nike Metcon series, which are suitable for all sorts of exercise, are in such high demand.
YouTube fitness guru Adam Sinicki, known online as The Bioneer, went into detail about the benefits of cross training in a lengthy video post referencing calisthenics, trail running, lifting weights, and even more unusual fitness techniques such as juggling to improve his reactions.
"Too many people will focus on only one or two aspects of fitness when training," said Sinicki. "This might come from a lack of knowledge, or the desire to be the best in a specific field... just as there is more to strength than squatting, strength itself isn't the ultimate expression of fitness and performance.
"Others equate fitness to cardiovascular endurance. Fit, to them, means being able to run long distances without throwing up... this might work if you're an endurance athlete, but for the rest of us, focusing on just one single area of fitness doesn't make sense."
This doesn't mean you have to completely abandon your usual routine, however: plenty of studies have determined you tend to work out more when you're doing an activity you enjoy. But it is worth supplementing your training with something different once a week.
If you usually do yoga for its benefits to your mobility and mental health, get out and lace up a pair of our best running shoes for men or best running shoes for women to improve your cardiovascular fitness, which might be a little neglected. If you love low-intensity bike rides, consider trying a few HIIT workouts.
This isn't just to stop you getting bored: Michigan State University reports cross training can actually improve your metabolism, as your fitness begins to plateau once you get used to a routine. Adding an unexpected weight training session or pilates workout into the mix will challenge your body in new ways, getting you fitter than you would by following the same old routine.
The best elliptical machines are often called cross trainers because they feature handles which works your arms in additions to your legs. They're a great way to mix up your training with both cardiovascular workouts and muscle tone.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website.
Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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