Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cross Training for Fitness & Fat Loss

Although it may fly in the face of conventional "wisdom," the numbers on your scale do not indicate whether you are fit or fat. Far more significant than your total body weight is the composition of your body tissue. If a man’s fatty tissue is more than 14% to 15% of his body mass, or if a woman’s is more than 20% to 22%, he or she is overweight, or more precisely, overfat.

A small amount of fat is needed for padding the internal organs and as insulation under the skin. Fat also makes up most of our brain tissue, and cell walls, so some fat is important for good health. However, excess fat leads to such diseases as diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and gallbladder problems.

The problem with most people who want to lose weight is that they focus on the numbers on the scale, and not on achieving the proper fat-to-muscle ratio for good health.

English: Yokosuka, Japan (Jan. 18, 2006) - Hos...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It would be more accurate to think of the human body as a heat-exchange engine that works on the basic principles of energy physics. Caloric balance equals the total calorie intake minus the total calorie expenditure. Some of the calories people ingest are used for basal metabolism. As people get older, their bodies require fewer calories for this basic upkeep. Some calories are excreted as waste products. Some go into “work metabolism,” the energy expenditure required for any physical activity.

Hence, if people take in more calories than are used by these functions, there is a definite caloric excess. By the laws of physics, energy is transformed rather than destroyed. In this case, each excess of 3,500 calories is changed into a pound of fat. If people want to reverse this process, they have to burn up 3,500 calories to lose a single pound.

Winning the War Against Fat

When you think of fighting fat with exercise, you probably think of hours of hard, sweaty exertion. If this is the case, then, you will usually not get any farther. This is because if you always focus on losing more by exerting more effort you'll tend to get bored and "burn out" before you ever reach your goal.

Then you give up, stop doing your routine exercises, and end up sulking in the corner with a bag of chips! Sound familiar?

Okay, so what is the answer?

While different methods may work for different people, my favorite is cross training.

After some intensive studies and experimentation, health experts came up with the concept of cross training in order to overcome or break the monotony or dullness in an exercise program.

Cross training refers to the integration of diverse movements or activities into a person’s conventional exercise routine. The main purpose of incorporating cross training into an exercise program is to avoid overdoing the same exercises (which can damage your muscles), and to put a stop to imminent boredom.

swimming (Photo credit: Jim Bahn)
Three of the most commonly used activities in a cross training program are swimming, running, and cycling.

In cross training, distance is one way to extend your activity as your condition improves. For this reason, you need to traverse a measured distance.

If possible, swim the course and measure the distance. If you will be using a running track, such courses usually are a quarter-mile per lap for a complete circuit.

Cross training offers a variety of benefits for fitness and fat loss. It builds up the strength and endurance of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It has also some tranquilizing effect on the nerves, and it burns a lot of calories in a fairly short period of time, due to the varying intensity and activities, which challenge your body in different ways.

Cross training has three basic components:

1. Endurance exercises to condition the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and to induce relaxation. These begin with a carefully planned walking and jogging regimen, depending on fitness level.

2. Exercises to strengthen the muscles, particularly those important to good posture. These include a variety of activities that are selected to encourage some people who are already burnt out with a particular routine.

3. Exercises to improve joint mobility and prevent or relieve aches and pains. These consist of a series of static stretching positions that are safe and effective for most people who wish to try to lose some fat.

Indeed, cross training is a great way to modify the concept of exercising and losing fat without having to endure hours of one monotonous activity. In fact, the idea behind a successful exercise program is to like what you are doing. With cross training, you may find yourself enjoying your workouts so much, you'll lose weight without even realizing it!

When you boil it down, cross training is a great way to have fun while exercising and reaching your fitness and fat loss goals.

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