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Cross Training: Teen Version

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KEY POINTS

  • Cross training is doing different types of exercise in the same workout or in separate workouts on a regular schedule. For example, you might run and lift weights one day and swim the next. Cross training can help prevent injuries and boredom, and help you condition your entire body.
  • To get the most out of a cross-training routine, you should include aerobic, strength-training, and flexibility exercises. Flexibility exercises are usually done for 10 to 60 minutes, while strength and aerobic exercises are usually done for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before you start your exercise program.

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What is cross training?

Cross training is doing different types of exercise in the same workout or in separate workouts on a regular schedule. For example, you might run and lift weights one day and swim the next.

What are the benefits of cross training?

  • You can get a total body workout. The different exercises can condition your entire body. For example, running strengthens your legs while swimming works more on your upper body.
  • It can help you lose weight. Doing the same exercise all the time makes your body more efficient, which means that it burns fewer calories. Changing the exercises you do helps you burn more calories.
  • It helps prevent overuse injuries. Because you are not doing the same exercise all of the time, you can limit your risk of injury by not stressing the same joints and muscles all the time.
  • You can still get exercise even if you have an injury. For example, if you have a knee injury, you can still get exercise by doing an activity that does not stress your knee, such as swimming. This lets you keep exercising while your injury heals.
  • You are less likely to get bored with your training routine. Including a variety of exercises in your workout routine can be a great way to improve total body strength and flexibility, keep you interested in exercising, and help you stay active for a longer time without getting tired.

How do I get started?

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before you start your exercise program.

To get the most out of a cross-training routine, choose at least one activity from each of the 3 different exercise groups listed below. You might want to start with exercises that you know you like.

  • Flexibility exercises
    • Yoga
    • Pilates
    • Stretching
  • Strength-training exercises
    • Free weights
    • Machines
    • Calisthenics (such as push-ups, chin-ups, or jumping jacks)
  • Aerobic exercises
    • Walking
    • Jogging
    • Hiking
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Tennis
    • Cross-country skiing
    • Rowing
    • Skating
    • Elliptical machine

Flexibility exercises are usually done for 10 to 60 minutes, while strength and aerobic exercises are usually done for 30 to 60 minutes.

What would a sample cross-training program look like?

Here is an example of a cross-training program designed for overall fitness.


Day of the week   Activity      Duration
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Sunday           jogging            20 to 30 min
                 stretching         10 min

Monday           cycling            30 min
                 weight training    30 min

Tuesday          jogging            20 to 30 min
                 stretching         10 min

Wednesday        rest day

Thursday         swimming           30 min
                 weight training    30 min

Friday           jogging            20 to 30 min
                 yoga               30 to 50 min

Saturday         cycling            30 min
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Are there any cautions I should follow?

  • Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before you start your exercise program.
  • When you add a new activity, don't do it for more than 20 minutes the first few times. This helps lower your risk of injury.
  • Listen to your body. If you have soreness or pain, take a rest day or try a different exercise that does not stress that area.
  • Don't overdo it. Avoid adding new exercises to an already heavy routine. If you are running 6 days a week, don't add swimming on the 7th day. Instead, use swimming to replace running one or two days per week.
  • Avoid activities that stress the same body part. For example, if you have foot pain, jogging, tennis, and hiking might make it worse. Try swimming or cycling instead.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-07-25
Last reviewed: 2016-07-25
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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