If you’ve been pursuing personal fitness for a while, then you’ve probably heard people raving about the benefits of cross training. This popular fitness program has been around for nearly two decades, building a community of passionate brand enthusiasts who are super pumped about their exercise goals. But just what is cross training? And more importantly, how can you incorporate some of these exercises into your own workout plan?
In short, cross training is an exercise philosophy that draws upon a variety of fitness disciplines - aerobics, calisthenics, Olympic weight lifting, and high-intensity interval training - to offer a comprehensive and highly demanding daily workout regime. It’s not for the faint of heart. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of cross training is the way it incorporates competition into its training culture, encouraging participants to “one up” their peers and collaborate constructively in branded fitness games. The cross training approach may sound intimidating, but it’s prescription is simple: “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement."
In this post, we’ll look at ten cross training inspired exercises that people of all fitness levels can begin incorporating into their workout regime. Done properly, with increasing intensity, these exercises will lay some serious burn and kick your fitness goals into overdrive.
Squats are a tried and true body weight exercise - and with good reason! They build strength in some of the most powerful muscles of your body: your hamstrings, glutes, and quads. While the upper body usually gets top billing when you’re looking for results in the mirror, it’s those muscles in your lower body that lay the solid foundation you need for maximum effectiveness in your workout program.
If you want to improve your poise, balance, and endurance, then well-executed squats are a great way to get there. And you can start with nothing more than just your own body weight. As you begin mastering the techniques described below, you can experiment with handheld weights to increase the resistance.
#1. Simple Air Squats
These “bread and butter” squats are easy to do, but many beginners do them incorrectly - often without even realizing it. Here’s the proper way to do a basic squat:
- Stand upright with your feet a shoulder’s width apart. Stare straight ahead.
- Bending at the hips and knees and keeping your upper body erect, crouch down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Note that your hips will not descend past your knees in this exercise. Make sure that your heels remain firmly planted on the floor.
- Engaging the glutes and quads, return your body to an upright standing position.
- Arms may either remain passive beside the body, or you can extend them out in front of you for additional balance.
- For added resistance, try holding a weight in both hands - resting either passively beside the body or supported gently over each shoulder.
#2. Modified Air Squats
These squats look similar to the unweighted simple squat described above, but they work slightly different muscle groups. Here’s what you do:
- Stand upright with your feet a shoulder’s width apart. Point your toes away from each other at 45-degree angles so that they form a “V.” Stare straight ahead and extend your arms in front of your body.
- Bending at the hips and knees while keeping your upper body erect, lower yourself into a deep squat. Note that your knees will be spread wide and your hips will descend past your knees with each squat. Be sure to keep your heels firmly planted on the ground.
- Hold the squat for as long as you can, then return to the original standing position.
#3. Pistol Squat
Ready for something considerably more intense? These one-legged squats get their name from the way your body will look somewhat like a pistol as you descend into the proper squatting position. They take practice, but they’ll reward you with some serious burn. Here’s how you do it:
- Stand straight holding your arms right out in front of your body.
- Raising your right leg, flex your right ankle and push your hips back.
- Now lower your body. Make sure your right leg is raised.
- Hold for a minute and then return to standing position.
- Repeat with alternate leg.
- Do for 4 to 6 reps.
#4. Squat Reach and Jump
- Do a normal squat - but immediately jump up high.
- Your arms should be reaching straight overhead.
- Do for 15 reps.
#5. Chair Squat Pose
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Squat down till your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Swing your arms up while doing so.
- Straighten your legs, then lift up your right knee. At the same time swing your left arm outside the right knee.
- Return to standing position and repeat on alternate side.
PRESS, SHRUG & SWING SERIES
#6. Push Press
This is a powerhouse workout, and not for the faint-hearted. This super energetic exercise will allow you to handle some seriously challenging loads. But, you need to warm-up before starting this exercise.
- With the barbell in position stand with your feet hips’ width apart.
- Slowly, pull the barbell up until it reaches your chest.
- Slightly retract your head backward.
- Bend your knees and ankles slightly.
- Push your body upwards by using your legs and every ounce of energy you have to push the barbell above your head by extending your arms.
- Come back to the initial position and repeat again.
#7. Pallof press
Pallof press movements may look confusing, but they are an incredibly simple and beneficial crossfit exercise. It will help you build great strength while adding athletic definition through your core.
- Stand straight near a cable column.
- The column's arm set should be around shoulder height.
- Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
- Your feet, knees, hips and shoulders should all remain square and face straight ahead. Now grab the handle with both hands and pull it up to your chest.
- Holding your chest high squeeze through the stomach and press the handle away from the body.
- Extend your arms straight while resisting any twisting or rotation movement. At this point the resistance will be strongest.
- Bring your arms back to your chest.
#8. Dumbbell Shrugs
This workout is often called an isolation exercise for the upper part of the trapezius. The best way to execute this is to shrug the shoulders and keep the joints of the shoulder in position, while lifting heavy weights.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand,stand with your shoulder and feet wide apart.
- Get a stronger grip on the dumbbells using lifting grips if you have to.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your arms stretched by your sides.
- Now, slowly lift the dumbbells by elevating shoulders in a shrugging way and hold for a while.
- Slowly lower your shoulders back to the original position.
- Repeat until you’ve hit your target reps.
#9. Kettlebell Swing
This workout works your backside and glutes targeting your muscle fibers that are crucial in every sports activity. Keep your back in a neutral position and squeeze your buttocks at the top of the movement as this will activate your glutes.
- Hold a kettlebell with both hands bend your knees slightly at your hips.
- Rocking back into a hip hinge position “swing” the kettlebell between your legs.
- Squeeze your glutes while thrusting your hips forward.
- Swing the kettlebell forward and upward until it reaches your shoulder height.
- Repeat by reversing the movement, bringing the kettlebell down and between your legs.
Barbell deadlifts work your entire body and doing this right can help you build stronger and more sculpted bod. It's one of the few lifts that can target your hamstrings, glutes, lats and core. Does wonders for your posture as well. You need to make sure your hands are protected and you have enough grip so that you can focus on your strength and not your hold.
- Load a barbell and roll it against your shins.
- Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar with an overhand or underhand grip, your hands just beyond shoulder width.
- Keeping your lower back naturally arched, pull your torso up and thrust your hips forward as you stand up with the barbell.
- Squeeze your glutes as you thrust your hips out slightly.
- Lower the bar to the floor and repeat.