10 Ways to Cross Train Like a Pro

Cross training can help you prevent overuse injuries, muscle imbalances and the dreaded mental burnout that comes from doing the same exercise routine day after day. Consider these cross-training exercise options and workout ideas.



Cross fit
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The Crossfit workout is a popular functional training workout routine. CrossFit builds strength, power, and endurance in a fun, fast workout alternative. Use in the off-season or as part of your standard routine and you will be a much stronger athlete.



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Swimming is a no-impact all-body workout and makes an ideal cross-training alternative for every athlete who needs to build strength, endurance or shoulder mobility. Most exercise requires bone and joint stresses, but in the water, your joints get a break while you keep your heart, lungs, and muscles pumping.

Not a swimmer? Give water running a try instead.


Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing
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Cross-country skiers have some of the highest VO2Max values of any endurance athletes. The full-body exercise is one of the most demanding and challenging forms of aerobic exercise you can perform. If you have access to ski trails and snow, getting outdoors is a wonderful way to stay fit and cross train.



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Yoga provides a perfect cross-training routine for athletes who play sports that use repetitive movement patterns. Yoga allows you to unwind and unfold tight, overused muscles while providing a gentle all-body workout. Yoga improves flexibility, balance, breathing and muscle stability.



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Adding running into your regular routine is one of the simplest ways to keep your cardiovascular system strong. If you can run, you can get a great workout anywhere. All you need are your shoes and the motivation to head out the door.

Running is a good weight-bearing exercise that builds bone density and conditions the muscles of the legs, the heart, and lungs. It may also decrease stress and relieve mild depression.



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Cycling provides a low-impact cardiovascular workout that can be as intense or mellow as you want. Cycling strengthens the quadriceps, calves, and glutes, and improves hip and core strength. Use the bike for errand-running or commuting and you have a heart-healthy transit option.



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Give your legs a break while you build upper body and core strength with kayaking. The rhythmic motion of paddling a kayak is a great cardiovascular workout that can be as vigorous or soothing as you want to make it. And you'll see your surroundings from a whole new perspective.



Cross training with hiking
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Hiking is a cross-training activity that adds variety to your exercise routine. It helps build endurance, agility and balance as you navigate rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces.

Plus, being outdoors is always refreshing. Do be prepared for weather conditions, and take hiking safety precautions to ensure a great day in the wilderness.


Core Strength Training

Woman doing core workout
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The core muscles (muscles supporting the trunk and torso) are the critical for all athletic movement. These muscles stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the head and allow athletes to transfer power to the arms and legs.

All powerful movements in the extremities originate from the center of the body, so building core strength is essential for coordinated and strong athletic movements. All athletes should do basic core strengthening exercises.


Rock Climbing

Rock climbing
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If you want to build strength, agility, and power, rock climbing is a tough, all-body workout. You can learn the basics by participating in sport climbing at an indoor climbing gym, and progress to outdoor, roped climbing if you want a major adrenaline rush while building unbelievable fitness. 

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Lee DC, Brellenthin AG, Thompson PD, Sui X, Lee IM, Lavie CJ. Running as a key lifestyle medicine for longevity. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2017;60(1):45-55.doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2017.03.005

  4. Mitten D, Overholt J, Haynes F, D'Amore C, Ady J. Hiking: A low-cost, accessible intervention to promote health benefits. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018;12(4):302-310. doi:10.1177%2F1559827616658229

  5. Hsu SL, Oda H, Shirahata S, Watanabe M, Sasaki M. Effects of core strength training on core stability. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(8):1014-1018. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.1014

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By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.