Sometimes a little change is good. Going to the gym day after day is a great way to lose fat and get toned, but it also can be a quick road to burn out. So give your traditional workout a little change of pace to reinvigorate yourself. Try cross training for fat loss.
What It Is
Cross training is defined by the American Council on Exercise as "...an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness." Cross training is nothing new. It was used by athletes competing in the decathlons and pentathlons of ancient Greece. Cross training promotes variety in training for several reasons. It prevents injuries by using different movements and exercises so you avoid the chronic overuse injuries. It also enhances weight loss and improves overall fitness by introducing different types of exercise at varying levels of intensity. And if you're struggling to find the motivation to go to the gym, cross training is the cure. The varying exercises and locations are the perfect remedy for exercise boredom. One week of cross training could be running outdoors on Monday, lifting weights on Wednesday and going for a bike ride on Friday.
In the Gym
If you want to cross train in the gym there are a laundry list of options. One of the benefits of most gyms is that under one roof you have many choices. If you normally lift with dumbbells, you could switch to a high-powered kettlebell workout, or try a cardio class. For a real change of pace and lots of fat burning, try using an exercise bike, an elliptical and a treadmill for 10 minutes each to total 30 minutes.
Outside of the Gym
The possibilities are nearly endless. If you have access to a field or track, it's hard to beat the fat-burning power of sprints. For a great sprinting workout, try running as fast you can for 20 seconds. Walk back to your starting point, catch your breath and sprint again. Do this for five or six repetitions. Once your fitness improves, gradually add time and distance to the sprints. The outdoors provide lots of options, but if you're more in the mood for fun and games, try a game of soccer or basketball. The fat-burning benefits are great, and playing games gives you a break from the norm.
As always, consult a doctor before beginning any type of exercise program. Also, be sure to partake in exercises or activities that you are comfortable doing. Bring water to stay hydrated, and if you're going outdoors in a warm climate, try to avoid the hottest part of the day. If you're unsure, consult the advice of a personal trainer or strength and conditioning professional. When outside, always check for traffic and debris to avoid potential danger.
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.