The Benefits and Effects of Cross-Training in Sports

Cross-training combines an alternative training mode with task-specific training. Both types of cross-training are practiced, with the intent of deriving a physiological and performance benefit similar to or better than exclusive sport-specific training, or participation in an alternative training mode exclusive to the one normally used (i.e. not task or sport-specific);

For performance and aerobic benefit, cross-training with dissimilar modes would be effective for participants with lower aerobic capacity. The more highly trained individuals will profit more from similar-mode cross-training. Within each fitness level, the studies suggest that the higher the aerobic capacity, the smaller the relative improvement from cross-training. For participants with problems of injury and compliance, or those seeking an alternative activity to maintain fitness in the off-season, cross-training using similar modes is effective.

The effects of cross-training may be specific to performance only. Since specificity of training remains a factor, taking time away from competitive events to cross-train might be detrimental to an athlete's performance although the decrease in performance might be balanced by the previously mentioned advantages of cross-training, for the majority of sports participants, cross-training is beneficial, particularly with similar modes. Using an alternative mode, either exclusively or in conjunction with the primary training mode, can be of value. Athletes must ascertain their individual strengths and weaknesses concomitant with an assessment of the unique demands of the particular competitive event to determine how to apply the different methods of cross-training.
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