On Monday, January 5, 2004,
a very strange phenomena will overtake Americans. They will
practically trample down the doors to local gyms all over
the country in a collective consciousness that is rising up
against all the holiday dietary sins -- too many cheese balls,
too much idle conversation over a buffet table, missed workouts,
too much to do with too little time --
January is the favorite time
of year for personal trainers and gym proprietors because
the client influx is predictable. And so is the gradual fade
of enthusiasm that begins fairly soon after that for many
There are lots of approaches
to fitness that can keep your interest and encourage your
consistency. Cross-training is one of them. A cross-training
program usually includes a combination of different exercises,
each performed for a specific period. The exercises can all
be aerobic, but they usually include other types of exercise.
To improve aerobic fitness,
for example, you can bike for 30 minutes. To increase strength,
you can lift weights for 30 minutes. You can do one form of
exercise each day or combine a bit of both on the same day.
If you do both on the same day, you can change the order in
which you do them.
Cross-training can also include
a variety of different exercises in a single routine to promote
aerobic fitness (moving within your workout from bike, stair-trainer,
treadmill, walking, running, jumping rope, or different strokes
and intensity when swimming.)
Circuit training can also keep
your interest when you do high-repetition, low-resistance
weight training and move quickly to the next exercise.
Another variation is to alternate
from an aerobic exercise like the stationary bike to a weight
training movement, then quickly back to a different aerobic
exercise, like the tread mill. By switching between these
activities without a break, you keep your workout momentum,
time seems to go by a little faster, and the workout is effective.
Boredom can really undermine
a fitness plan. So try to mix it up during your workouts and
you might find it a whole lot easier to stick with it.
A Cross-Training Sampler
Here is an example of a cross-training
program that provides all-around fitness. It can improve aerobic
fitness, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and also
help with weight control by helping you burn an extra number
of calories each day.
Monday: Stretching for
10 minutes, upper body weight training for 30 minutes, fast
walking for 20-30 minutes, with or without hand weights.
Tuesday: Swimming with
alternating strokes for 20-30 minutes, yoga or slow stretching
for 30 minutes.
Wednesday: Running or
jogging for 20-30 minutes, lower-body weight training for
20-30 minutes, end with slow stretching.
Thursday: Swimming for
20-30 minutes, slow stretching or yoga for 20-30 minutes.
Friday: Rowing machine,
bike, or treadmill (or alternating between 3 aerobic activities,
outside or inside) for 20-30 minutes, slow stretching or yoga
for 20-30 minutes.
Saturday: Take a day
Sunday: Walking or hiking
comfortably for 30-45 minutes. Slow stretching or yoga for
Another aspect of planning
workouts that keep your interest is to determine which types
of aerobic exercise you like more than others and really lean
toward those. Making yourself jog if you don't like that form
of exercise is kind or like eating something for dinner that
you know is good for you but you just don't enjoy. Chances
are, you'll tend to skip that food. Chances are, you'll avoid
your workout if you don't enjoy the method.
This sample routine is primarily
indoor based because of winter conditions. But cross-country
skiing, snowshoeing, or other winter aerobic activities are
another great way to incorporate variety into your fitness
plan. And variety is good insurance against fitness burnout.
Hope to see you holding your own at the gym clear into summer!