We all know exercise can be good for anybody, but what type of exercise should you be doing? Everyone has different goals with exercise, some want to lose weight, some want to improve athletic performance, and some simply enjoy the process of growth and development. While the goals may all be different, cross training is important to help obtain the results you want and minimize your risk of injury.
If your goal is to improve athletic performance then chances are you spend a lot of your time practicing a sport or sport specific skill. If you want to lose weight you may be spending most of your time focusing on burning more calories. No matter what the case may be, spending all of your time focusing on one specific skill, muscle group, movement pattern, energy system, etc. may lead to fatigue, overuse, or a plateau. In order to avoid these potentially negative responses to your training you should implement cross training.
Put as simply as possible, cross training should be adding a form of training or movement to your routine that will complement your existing exercise modality by incorporating new and different patterns and intensities. If you do a lot of exercise at high intensities and short duration try complementing that with lower intensities but longer duration. If your preferred mode of exercise involves movements in the sagittal plane (front to back) make sure you incorporate frontal plane (side to side) and transverse plane (rotational) movements in your cross training. These different movements and intensities should limit the likelihood of overuse injuries associated with repetitive use and help overcome potential plateaus due to adaptation.