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Cross Training Exercises and Workouts for Athletes

Here are some of the best cross training exercise options for most athletes


Updated June 30, 2014

Cross training can help you prevent overuse injuries, muscle imbalances and the dreaded mental burnout that comes from doing the same exercise routine day after day. Here are some great cross training exercise options and workout ideas for most athletes.

1. CrosCross Training Workout - Running

Cross training with Running
Photo (c) Sami Sarkis/Getty Images

Adding running into your regular routine is one of the simplest ways to keep your cardiovascular system strong. If you can run, you can get a great workout anywhere. All you need are your shoes and the motivation to head out the door. Running is a good weight-bearing exercise that builds bone density, conditions the muscle of the legs, the heart and lungs, and may decrease stress and relieve mild depression.

2. Cross Training Workouts - Cycling

Cross training with Cycling
Photo (c) Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Cycling provides an excellent low-impact cardiovascular workout that can be as intense or mellow as you want. Cycling strengthens the quadriceps, calves, glutes and improves hip and core strength. Use the bike for around-town errand running or getting to work and you have a heart-healthy transit option.

3. Cross Training Workout - Yoga

Cross training with yoga
Christoph Wilhelm / Getty Images

Yoga provides the a perfect cross training routine for athletes who play sports that use repetitive movement patterns over and over. Yoga allows you to unwind, and unfold tight, overused muscles while it provides a gentle all-body workout. Yoga improves flexibility, balance, breathing and overall strength.

4. Cross Training Workout - Kayaking

Cross training with Kayaking
Julian Finney / Getty Images

Give your legs a break while you build upper body and core strength with kayaking. The rhythmic motion of paddling a kayak through lakes and open water is a great cardiovascular workout that can be as vigorous or soothing as you want to make it. Consider a week-long kayak trip or vacation in Baja, Belize or through the Northwest Passage and you may discover a whole new way to exercise and enjoy a complete change of pace from your normal training routines.

5. Cross Training Workout - CrossFit

Cross training with Crossfit
Mike Powell/Getty

The Crossfit Workout is an extremely popular basic training type of workout routine that is popping up all over the world. CrossFit builds strength, power and endurance in a fun, fast workout alternative. Use is in the off-season, or as part of your standard routine and you will be a much stronger athlete.

6. Cross Training Workout - Cross Country Skiing

Cross training with Skate Skiing
Agence Zoom / Getty Images

Cross country skiers have been known to have some of the highest VO2Max values of any endurance athletes for a good reason -- the full-body exercise of Nordic or skate skiing is arguable one of the most demanding and challenging forms of aerobic exercise you can perform. If you have a snow-filled winter, getting outdoors while traveling miles through forest, fileds or other local ski trails is a wonderful waty to stay fit and cross train in the off-season.

7. Cross Training Workout - Hiking

Cross training with hiking
Javier Pierini/Getty Images

Hiking is a great cross training activity that add a little variety to your exercise routine. Getting outdoors for a long day of endurance exercise helps build endurance, agility and balance as you navigate rocks, roots and uneven surfaces. Be prepared for the extreme weather conditions, and be sure to take a few hiking safety precautions to ensure a great day in the wilderness.

8. Cross Training Workout - Core Strength Training

Abdominal exercises for a strong core
Photdisc / Getty Images

The core muscles (muscles supporting the trunk and torso) are the most critical muscles for all athletic movement. These muscles stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the head and allow athletes to transfer power to the arms and legs. All powerful movements in the extremities originate from the center of the body so building core strength is essential for coordinated and strong athletic movements. All athletes should do basic core strengthen. Here is a quick core workout that provides a basic routine suitable for most sports.

9. Cross Training Workout - Swimming

This no-impact all-body workout is an ideal cross training alternative for every athlete who needs to build strength, endurance or shoulder mobility. Most exercise requires bone and joint stresses, but in the water your joints get a break while you keep you heart, lungs and muscles pumping. Not a swimming? Give water running a try instead.

10. Cross Training Workout - Rock Climbing

If you want to build strength, agility, and power, rock climbing is a tough, all-body workout. You can learn the basics by participating in sport climbing at an indoor climbing gym, and progress to outdoor, roped climbing if you want a major adrenaline rush will building unbelievable fitness. Climbing isn't without 

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