What is Cross Training? Exercises & Benefits

Contrary to popular opinion, cross training isn’t dependant on you using a cross trainer to work, although you can use one as part of a cross training regime. Instead, it’s more about having an exercise regime that makes use of a number of different training routines to develop specific fitness components.

These fitness components can comprise of any number of different things. These include you wanting to lose weight, help you enjoy a healthier lifestyle, reduce your risk of injury or even be part of your training regime for a competition.

Cross training is a really flexible way to work out as you can incorporate a great variety of exercises into your workout. This is useful as not only does it mean it can be adapted to suit everyone, but also that you’re less likely to get bored of your routine. In turn, this means you’re more likely to stick with it and therefore, you’re more likely to reach your goals.

Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about cross training, from the benefits of a cross training regime, what an effective routine comprises of, how you can work out, both at home and at your local Everyone Active centre. We’ll also look at the differences between cross training and CrossFit, how a cross trainer differs from cross training and how this workout regime can help runners.

What Makes a Good Cross Training Workout?

One of the best ways to incorporate cross training into your regular workout regime is to ensure variety in your exercises. This can be done in a couple of different ways. Either you can dedicate each session to one particular form of exercise – i.e. on the treadmill one day, on the rowing machine the next, cycle after that etc.

Alternatively, you can do several different exercises during one session. For instance, you can do 10 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer, 10 on the treadmill, 10 on a resistance machine and so on and so forth.

Cross Training at the gym

The gym is the ideal place for a cross-training workout routine. There’s a whole host of different equipment for you to make use of. These include elliptical trainers, treadmills, cycling machines, rowing machines, free weights, functional training equipment and a whole host of resistance machines too. This variety, along with the group fitness classes offered by Everyone Active, means you have a great choice of exercises to enjoy as part of your cross training regime.

Cross Training at Home

If you can’t make it to the gym, however, you can still do plenty of exercises at home with minimal equipment. These include functional, body weight workouts such as sit-ups, press-ups, squats and lunges, while burpees are also a great way to mix up your workout regime as well. If you have a bike, you can go out for a ride, or even just playing football in the back garden counts.

What are the benefits of Cross Training?

Cross training has a fantastic range of benefits, regardless of what your training goals may be. By incorporating it into your workout regime, you can lose weight more quickly, reduce your risk of injury, improve your total fitness and help you stick to your exercise regimen.

Improved Weight Loss

Whether you’re just trying to shift a few pounds or have a more ambitious target in mind, cross training is a great way to achieve your goals. It’s a great way to safely burn a significant number of calories and, as such will help burn off excess body fat and help you lose weight.

According to research, weight loss is best achieved by exercising for relatively long periods (more than half an hour, for example) at medium intensity. Doing two or more exercises of 30-45 minutes per machine during each workout session is a great way to support your weight loss journey.

You’re More Likely to Stick to Your Exercise Regime

This is one of the key benefits of cross training. Because there’s plenty of variety in the exercises that you’re doing, you’re much less likely to get bored with your routine, meaning you’re much more likely to stick with it and, as a result, achieve your goals.

It’s also really flexible. If you get bored with one aspect of your workout program, you can easily swap it out for something new. Additionally, cross training is a safe way to exercise, so you’re less likely to have a break due to injury. This means you’re more likely to reach your goals.

Reduced Risk of Injury

It’s actually the variety of exercise that you do on a cross training regime that will help you avoid injury. Because you do a number of different exercises, working a variety of muscle groups and joints, the load is well spread across your body. This means no one area gets over-loaded and so you’re much less likely to suffer an injury. As a result of this, you’re much more likely to keep going with your regime, with no breaks. This makes it far more likely that you will reach your goals; whatever they may be.

Improved General Fitness

Cross training is the ideal way to help improve your overall fitness. Again, because you take on a variety of exercises, you work a variety of muscle groups, helping with both muscular and aerobic fitness. Indeed, research has shown that an individual’s muscle fitness will improve more if they engage in a cross training regime that includes resistance exercises than if they work on strength training alone.

What’s the Difference Between Cross Training and CrossFit?

Although there are significant similarities between cross training and a CrossFit training regime, there are key differences as well. Firstly, although they both encourage incorporating variety in your workout regime, CrossFit is more regimented and generally delivered in groups, with each person working on a routine that is specific to them and their level of fitness.

There is also a specific diet that is associated with CrossFit that isn’t necessarily required for cross training. It encourages eating meat, fish, vegetables nuts, seeds and a little food, while trying to avoid starches and sugar.

What is a Cross Trainer?

A cross trainer – also known as an elliptical trainer – is a piece of cardio exercise equipment. It works both your arms and legs and is a great whole-body workout. Now, while a cross trainer and cross training are very much not the same thing, but a cross trainer can be an important part of a cross training routine.

With each stride you take with your right leg, you pull back on the lever with your left arm and so on and so forth. You can adjust the resistance and, with many of the more advanced machines – especially those you’ll find in your local Everyone Active gym – change the gradient. You can even program in a number of different hills and resistance levels into one workout.

Cross Training Activities for Runners

Cross training is a great way to train for a specific sport. So if you are a runner, for example, there are a number of different activities and examples that are great additions to your cross training regime. Check them out here:


Football, or soccer, is a great way to get stronger and improve your cardiovascular fitness. In a 90-minute match, you’ll likely cover between three and five miles, which will help your aerobic fitness. Also, the constant change of direction and side-to-side activity will help strengthen plenty of different muscle groups. It’s important to remember, however, that there is a chance of knee and ankle injuries when playing football, so it’s important to be careful!


This may sound like a slightly odd one, but there are some benefits to it. It’s similar to working on an elliptical trainer, with slow, rhythmical movements of both your arms and legs. It gives good cardio exercise but without putting too much pressure on your joints. Be sure not to coast too much, however, or you won’t feel the benefit.


Swimming is a fantastic addition to any workout regime and specifically a cross training one for a runner. It works the whole body at once and helps build strength and aerobic fitness thanks to the extra resistance offered by the water. You’re also very unlikely to get injured while swimming as the water supports the joints perfectly.


This is great for our flexibility and conditioning, helping improve how your joints deal with constant movement. Additionally, hot yoga classes are really good for helping you acclimatise for a race in a hotter climate.


The benefits of tennis as part of a cross-training regime to a runner are fairly obvious. You run all over the place and you’re obviously working your arms plenty as well. You do need to be careful, however. It’s a high-intensity game and your legs can take a bit of a pounding, so it’s important not to push yourself too hard in order to avoid injury.


A Zumba class is an ideal part of a cross training regime for any runner. It’s great for building cardio fitness and strengthening a number of different muscle groups. These include hip-strengthening muscles that are really important to running. It can, however, cause you a few problems with your calf muscles due to over-exertion, so be careful!


It’s a great aerobic workout with minimal impact on your joints. This makes it ideal for both training for running in the first place and recovery too. Safety needs to be considered, however, as you can do serious damage if you crash at speed, so be sure to invest in good safety gear.