Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several types of training to develop a specific component of fitness. I love cross training and have been the ultimate cross trainer for more than three decades. My routine includes resistance training, swimming, cycling and running. The essential fundamentals of cross training are the same whether you are exercising for improved health and fitness or training to compete in an event.
Cross training has numerous benefits including:
Conditioning: By performing a variety of exercises from different disciplines, you are asking more of your body than with a traditional approach. Asking your body to do more will lead to increased fitness levels. When you cross train, you will see muscle gains, fat loss, increased cardio-aerobic capacity and increased fast twitch. This comprehensive style of fitness training is the ultimate form of conditioning. In fact, studies indicate, for example, that resistance training can help prevent injury, control body weight and improve functional capacity.
Weight Management: People who want to lose weight and body fat should engage in an exercise program that enables them to safely burn a significant number of calories. According to multiple studies, weight loss and fat loss is best accomplished when you exercise for more than 30 minutes at a moderate level of intensity (60 percent to 85 percent of maximum heart rate). This is often best accomplished implementing a cross training regimen. For example, exercising on an elliptical trainer for 20 to 30 minutes and then cycling on a stationary bike for an additional 20 to 30 minutes is a great way to reduce fat stores.
Active Recovery: Active recovery is the practice of using an alternative type of training to recover from a primary training method. For example, many football players do swimming workouts and pool resistance exercises to actively recover from their on-field practices and traditional weight room training. In addition to the conditioning and injury preventing benefits, this type of cross training will actually speed up recovery by increasing blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to stressed or damaged muscle tissue.
Reduced Risk of Injury: Typically, training injuries occur when there is too much repetition of a single activity. Whether it is running, squatting or jumping, the body can be easily worn down if these activities are frequently repeated. Joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons throughout the body are under a tremendous amount of stress through repeated movement. It’s important to give them a break. By spreading the cumulative level of orthopedic stress over additional muscles and joints, you can exercise more frequently and for longer durations without excessively overloading vulnerable areas of the body, including knees, hips, back, shoulders, elbows and feet. For example, long distance runners should consider incorporating low-impact activities such as elliptical training, cycling and swimming into their routines.
Retailer shelves are full of products that can dramatically help those committed to a cross-training routine. Some of my favorites include:
CoQ10 (Ubiquinol): CoQ10 is one of those encompassing dietary supplements with both general health benefits (e.g., anti-aging, antioxidant) as well as specific health applications (e.g., cardiovascular, diabetes, etc.). It is a fundamental component in energy production, immune response and protection against damage by free radicals.
CoQ10 is part of the mitochondrial electron transport system and is synthesized in all cells. It is essential to the body’s production of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This holds special importance for the heart, which is loaded with mitochondria and has the body’s highest concentration of CoQ10 because of the significant demands made upon it.
Aging reduces access to CoQ10. Although it is obtained from the diet (mainly from fatty fish, organ meats, and whole grains) as well as synthesized in small amounts, both of these routes decline with age. The body’s declining capacity to extract and assimilate CoQ10 in later years plays a role in the development of various cardiovascular conditions.
Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 and the most highly absorbed. Ubiquinol is directly used in human metabolism as a lipid-soluble antioxidant. While standard CoQ10 (ubiquinone) supplements can be converted into ubiquinol in the body, this conversion can be less efficient in some individuals, based on age, genetics, blood sugar status or level of oxidative stress.
Fish Oil: The mainstream media has been reporting on the benefits of fish oil for years. Studies have shown that the omega-3s found in fish oil helps prevent and fight heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, ulcers, diabetes, hyperactivity and other diseases. For cross training, the healthy fats found in fish oil increase energy levels and fights inflammation. While omega-3s can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3, containing two fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are essential in preventing and fighting both physical and mental illness, can be found only in fish. Be sure to take fish oil products from companies that follow strict procedures to eliminate environmental contaminants to assure the highest purity of its fish oil supplements.
Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC): Backed by years of scientific research, GPLC has been shown to assist the body in a number of ways including:
• Cardiovascular Health: Studies show that GPLC is proven to increase nitric oxide retention, which is important to the regulation of blood circulation while improving the vasodilatory ability (increased blood flow capability) of blood vessels.
• Energy: GPLC is proven to increase nitric oxide levels in the human blood stream resulting in the optimization of endurance, stamina and recovery. GPLC assists the delivery of oxygen and nutrients through vasodilation, encourages blood flow, and helps the production of ATP energy while diminishing harmful free radical buildup in the body.
• Recovery: Through its antioxidant properties, GPLC aids in muscle recovery by not only speeding up post workout recovery, but also recovery time during training. This helps increase both endurance and stamina.
Whey Protein: Whey protein is an excellent protein choice for anyone whose wants to incorporate a cross training routine. Whey protein isolate, the purest form available, is unsurpassed as a source of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. Essential amino acids are the building blocks for healthy muscles, skin, nails and other body tissue.
Cross training athletes need more protein in their diet, often as much as twice the recommended daily allowance for optimal performance. Whey protein makes a difference for the following reasons:
• Whey protein is a naturally complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. It has the ideal combination of amino acids to help improve body composition and enhance athletic performance.
• Whey protein is a rich source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), containing the highest known levels of any natural food source. BCAAs are important for athletes since unlike the other essential amino acids, they are metabolized directly into muscle tissue and are the first ones used during periods of exercise and resistance training. Whey protein provides the body with BCAAs to replenish depleted levels and start repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue.
• Whey protein is an excellent source of the essential amino acid, leucine. Leucine is important for athletes as it plays a key role in promoting muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth. Research has shown that individuals who exercise benefit from diets high in leucine and have more lean muscle tissue and less body fat compared to individuals whose diet contains lower levels of leucine.
• Whey protein is a soluble, easy to digest protein and is efficiently absorbed into the body. It is often referred to as a “fast” protein for its ability to quickly provide nourishment to muscles.
• Whey protein helps athletes maintain a healthy immune system by increasing the levels of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is an antioxidant required for a healthy immune system. Exercise and resistance training may reduce glutathione levels.
Exercise can strengthen the cardiovascular system, bones, muscles, joints, and reduce body fat. Exercise can also improve flexibility, balance and coordination. If you want to see all of these benefits, cross training is the best way to do it. Before you get started, you’re going to need to fuel your new routine. Your local natural products retailer will have all of the products mentioned above—and more. 2017 is upon us! There is no better time to start than now! VR
1. “Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental”; Oral L-Arginine Supplementation Improves Endothelial Function and Ameliorates Insulin Sensitivity and Inflammation in Cardiopathic Nondiabetic Patients after an Aortocoronary Bypass; Pietro Lucotto, et al.; September 2009.
2. Bloomer RJ, Smith WA, Fisher-Wellman KH. Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine increases plasma nitrate/nitrite in resistance-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2007;4(1):22.
3. Bloomer RJ, Tschume LC, Smith WA: Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine modulates lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide in human subjects. Int J Vitam Nutr Res, In Press.
4. Loffredo L, Marcoccia A, Pignatelli P, Andreozzi P, Borgia MC, Cangemi R, Chiarotti F, Violi F: Oxidative-stress-mediated arterial dysfunction in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Eur Heart J 2007, 28(5): 608-612.
Mark Becker is an account manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, CA. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 20 years and has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor’s in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 103 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ marklbecker/posts/387591877933686#!/energyatlast. Follow Mark on Twitter at twitter.com/ #!/becker_mark. For more information, access www.vivioninc.com or www.EnergyatLast.com.