Cross Training: Work Out Smarter, Not Harder

Doing one aerobic exercise will get you fit, but doing two will get you fit FASTER — and with less chance of injury. Remember, INTENSITY increases fitness fastest. If you just did one exercise you’d have to work harder and harder to get improved results.

What Is Cross Training And Why Should I Do It?

* Challenge your body to learn new movements.
* Avoid injury from overuse/repetitive motion.
* Decrease boredom thus increasing your desire to stick to it!

For example: If you only run for exercise, you might have to increase the distance or intensity every month to see results. But if you go biking in addition to running, you can challenge the body with this alternate activity and you won’t have to increase the difficulty of the running. By switching exercises, you can fool your muscles into thinking they’re working harder. They’re using the same amount of energy, only in a different way. You get off easy by doing two different exercises with moderate exertion instead of doing one exercise with increased exertion.

Isn’t It Even Better To Do Three Or Four Different Exercises?
An exercise needs to be done at least twice a week so your body recognizes it as something you do all the time and makes the necessary systemic and neurological adjustments to adapt to it. You could do a different exercise every day, but the nerves and muscles wouldn’t learn each sport well enough for the cross training effect to occur. If three or four days elapse before you repeat an activity, you probably won’t get much of a cross training effect. To get the best results from cross training, you should do only two or three different activities.

What’s The Best Combination Of Cross Training Exercises For…

* Overall fitness? Do an aerobic exercise such as running or cycling and strength building with weights.

Losing fat? Do two different whole body aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, rowing, simulated skiing, or stair climbing. For faster results, make sure you are on your feet for one of the activities (that is, not sitting on a machine). Plus, add one or two days of weight lifting.

Pregnancy, older people, or those with joint problems? Combine swimming (or water aerobics) with another whole body exercise such as stationary bicycling, machine rowing, cross-country skiing or any non-impact, gentle aerobic exercise.

Here’s How To Get Started

* Do aerobic exercise four days a week.
* Exercise for at least 15 minutes each aerobic session.

Instead of doing the same aerobic exercise each time, do a different aerobic exercise on one or two of those four days.

Here is a sample workout schedule:

30 minute walk
With wind sprints

30 minute walk
Weight workout

20 minute bike

30 minute walk

25 minute bike
Weight workout

45 minute walk

Rest day

Wind Sprint Your Way To Fitness

What Are Wind Sprints?

Wind sprint is a familiar term to athletes. For them it means to sprint or go very fast. But it’s the first word — WIND — that should really be emphasized, because the purpose of the exercise is to get momentarily winded. Athletes have to go very fast to get winded. Out-of-shape people can get winded from just walking. (It might have been easier to explain this technique if I had made up a new name for it, such as “The Get Winded Exercise.”)

The beauty of wind sprints is that they can be added to any exercise: cycling, swimming, walking, and rowing — you name it!

If you want to become a person who burns LOTS of fat during aerobic exercise, then you have to raise the level at which you exercise. Doing little bursts to "get winded" in the middle of your regular aerobic exercise session is what raises that level. Plus, wind sprints add intensity and challenge to your workouts without the danger of getting injured.

How Do I Do Wind Sprints?
During the middle of your aerobic exercise, add several short bursts of intensity by going faster or increasing the resistance. Don’t try to go as fast or as hard as you can. Just go fast enough so that after 20-40 seconds you are breathing harder.

The real secret to increasing fitness with wind sprints is what you do AFTER the sprint.

You must force your body to recuperate while it is still under stress! To get the maximum benefit from your sprint, you’ve got to return to the speed you were going prior to the sprint. Do not stop or go slower than pre-sprint speed. After you have recovered from the sprint, repeat this sprint/recover cycle. You can eventually add up to 5-10 sprints per workout. Here’s a bonus: when you add sprints to your workout you can shorten the total exercise time.

What Do I Mean By Intensity?
I worry that some people may quote me out of context: Covert Bailey says “you have to do intense exercise if you want to get fit.” If this is all they say, their friends will think that adding intensity means going as fast as they possibly can. There are many ways to add intensity and going faster is one of them.

Using wind sprints to add intensity means exercising just a little bit harder than usual. It means for just a few moments. Let’s say you are terribly out of shape and 50 pounds overweight. Slow walking is your fastest comfortable exercise. In the middle of your walk you go up a short hill, which makes you puff a little. The uphill stretch is not hard enough or long enough to exhaust you or make you gasp, but it’s enough extra effort to make you glad to reach the top.

That little hill represents the level of intensity I’m talking about. Sprinting madly up the hill as if it were an emergency would be too intense, too exhausting for you. On the other hand, an Olympic athlete might have to zoom up a much steeper hill to add intensity to her comfortable run.

Intensity is a relative term — it means pushing yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

I am trying to show you tricks on how to add little bits of intensity without getting hurt. I emphasize again — WITHOUT getting hurt. If you tell a friend, "Covert Bailey says you’ve got to exercise intensely" without explaining the rest, you’re not helping your friend.

Covert’s Rules for Wind Sprints:

* Sprint easy, recover hard.
* You don’t have to sprint to do wind sprints -- you just have to get winded.

It’s not the intensity of the sprint that matters — it’s the intensity of the recovery.

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