Fitness by cross training creates more endurance, flexibility, strength, and reduces injury risk. One aspect of cross training is balancing the work load between agonist and antagonist muscles.
A second benefit of cross training is engaging in different levels of aerobics. Resistance training has an aerobic component as does walking and bike riding. These low impact aerobics burn fat and develop endurance.
A third benefit of cross training is building all the muscle fiber groups. Low impact aerobics in resistance training or walking build red slow twitch muscle fibers. Medium intensity aerobics and resistance training build red fast twitch muscle fibers. More intense aerobics and resistance training build white fast twitch muscle fibers.
Low and High Intensity Exercises
Low intensity resistance training is lifting loads that are 60% of capacity with reps of 20 to 25 in three sets. Low intensity aerobics is walking, biking, swimming, or tread mill work. These exercises build endurance, burn fat, and build some strength until the body adapts.
Medium intensity resistance training is lifting loads at 60% to 80% of capacity in three sets of 12 to 16 reps. Medium intensity aerobics adds duration of an hour or more and speed intervals which can start at two or three minutes.
High intensity resistance training is lifting near capacity loads in sets of 4 to 6 reps. High intensity aerobics is adding duration and longer interval times. Racing is high intensity aerobics. At high intensity the body is building muscle and size. The white fast twitch fibers are the only ones capable of adding size and maximizing strength.
Timing the Cross Training
Exercisers who engage in high intensity aerobics only reach their maximums once or twice a week and the balance is spent in lower impact exercise. High intensity resistance training can only be engaged once or twice a week per muscle group and then need 72 hours of recovery. The balance of time can be spent in alternating muscle groups or lower intensity lifting.
Other Crucial Factors
Rest becomes an important factor. Muscles need to recover to increase in size and strength. Nutrition is important to feed muscles before and after workouts. Hydration is a key component considering muscles are 74% water.
Varying exercises increases fitness and makes a program more interesting. Varying muscle groups can prevent over training and injuries. Varying intensities builds endurance, speed, power, strength, and muscle size.
Iron Man competitors say when the muscles fatigue, the resistance training carries the load. I have discovered that working the large muscle groups at the gym with squats, dead lifts, and chest presses supports my biking and surfing. I no longer get aches, lasting pains, wake up with pain, nor have lower back problems from any exercise.
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