When you are used to pounding the pavement or spinning those wheels, it can be difficult to figure out what to do on those elusive cross training days. How intense should the workout be? And what are you supposed to do if you are stuck indoors without any equipment?

Fortunately, there are many types of cross training workouts that will benefit your runs and bike rides. Cross training can be a great way to stretch and strengthen muscles, repair and prevent injuries, and have a little fun by trying something that is not part of the normal routine.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive into specific types of cross training exercises, focusing on more details and the benefits of each kind. To begin our Tips for Training series, here is an overview of cross training for the 4K for Cancer program.

Finding the Right Exercise

If you are looking for an intense workout, swimming and aqua jogging are always a great choice. They use the same muscles as biking and running, and swimming can help you expand your lungs and regulate your breathing. If you do not have access to a pool, the elliptical, stair machines, and rowing machines are all great pieces of gym equipment that can produce a highly cardiovascular workout. If you do not have any equipment, consider HIIT training. A quick Google search will produce hundreds of high intensity workouts that you can do anywhere.

To make sure you are getting an intense workout, you should wear a heart rate monitor. While running and biking, it is normally easy to figure out what sort of effort you are exerting, but it can be more difficult during workouts with which you are less familiar.

Taking a Break

But cross training workouts do not have to be focused on the cardiovascular system. If you are working your heart and lungs all week with running and biking workouts, you may want to consider working other parts of your body that are stressed during your regular workouts.

Activities like yoga and Pilates can help strengthen, stretch and tone the muscles, as well as help with breathing regulation and injury prevention. Strength training is another great way to strengthen and tone the muscles. If you do not own weight-lifting equipment, consider creating a circuit of bodyweight exercises that work on different parts of your body.


Switching it Up

Cross training also gives the opportunity to try something outside of your daily routine! As much as you may love running or biking, doing the same workout every day can become tiresome. Some days, you just need a little extra fun.

Going for a hike, cross country skiing, or trying a new fitness class can break up the usual routine with different types of entertaining workouts. Try to find a friend who would like to try a new fitness class, like Zumba, Boot Camp, or Barre, or maybe find someone who would like to just go out for a long walk. The benefit here is that you are not only getting a workout and helping your body heal, but you are also helping someone else get active.

Cross training is an important part of any training plan. As much as you may be tempted to just fall into your regular routine, do not skip cross training days. Your body needs a break from the constant pounding and endless cycling to repair and prevent injuries, and the flexibility and strength you gain from cross training workouts will only benefit your next run or bike ride.

Keep on the lookout for our next Tips on Training, where we’ll dive into swimming.

– Tyler Didra, 4K Runner & Intern