A basic definition of the term ‘cross-training’ as it applies to physical fitness is using more than one method to develop a specific skill or fitness component. A general example is developing cardiovascular endurance with bouts of running, swimming, cycling, group classes, dance cardio etc. However, we are most often using the term for fitness to describe using similar activities to prepare for the demands of another, such as swimming to prepare for surfing. In this example there is a relationship between the activities that is easily identifiable: the arm movement with freestyle swimming replicates the paddling action on a surfboard.
In Alaska we see a virtual explosion of outdoor activities in our warmer season and many of our members spend much of their cardio exercise time outside. The smartest exercisers also balance outdoor activities with indoor, using the cross-training concept to keep their bodies strong and flexible for the trail, field, lake etc. The stronger and more flexible we are the more we can resist injury and being in good shape equals more fun.
Another concept that is important to remember is that cardio work, inside or out, taxes the muscles, joints and soft tissue connections in such a way as to break them down over time; one remedy for this is maintenance/development through resistance (strength) training. A simple but complete fitness plan includes cardio and strength training along with a good stretching component. Below is a short list of common outdoor activities matched with suggested indoor cardio and strength cross-training work to support the activity. (Please note the suggestions only include the primary actions of the activity and basic support exercises vs. including all muscles in use or a comprehensive exercise list. All activities require CORE work to build stability in the abs, low back/trunk, hips etc. and all cardio and total-body strength work support movement.)
Of course there are many ways to cross train and many strength exercises and cardio activities that can be supportive of specific pursuits. The idea is to build strength and endurance in the ways that make sense for the ways you use your body. Seeking professional guidance on building a workout plan is always a great way to get expert advice on of to work cross training into your workouts. Additionally, Personal Trainers are able to help you develop a yearlong plan for the variety of activities you will participate in, ensuring you are hitting the gym and supporting your outside (or out-of-the-gym) fun!