Cross-training exercises can be virtually any exercises that one doesn't do as part of a regular exercise routine. For example, if one plays a sport professionally, cross-training exercises would help to develop skills that might be used in that sport. This might include running, swimming, weight lifting, stretching, or any other exercises that help to work various muscle groups.
Cross-training exercises really only exist in relation to other exercises. If an individual frequently gets all of his or her exercise from going for a jog every day, then the muscles will become conditioned to these exercises. In order to work the rest of the muscles in the body, different exercises may be added such as stretching or strength training, which would then be considered a type of cross training. This is a simplified example of cross-training exercises.
For people who simply exercise to maintain a healthy weight, boost cardiovascular endurance, and get in shape, mixing up the exercise routine by adding some cross-training exercises is often recommended by experts. This is because it provides more of a challenge to the body, and can help one to get past an exercise or weight loss plateau. In addition, it can help to alleviate the boredom that can come from doing the same exercise every day, as well as prevent injury from repetitive motion on one muscle group without also working a corresponding yet opposite muscle group.
Athletes often use cross-training exercises as a way to improve their speed and agility. They might do exercises to target specific muscle groups that are used in the particular sport that they play, in order to help them develop skills that will be beneficial during a competition or game. Circuit training, for example, where an individual will move rapidly from one aerobic or strength exercise to the next without taking much rest in between, is a common type of cross training. Runners will often participate in stretching or yoga classes on the side, as well as weight lifting, to prevent muscle tightness or weakness in other areas of the body that can easily lead to injury.
One of the best ways to find different types of cross-training exercises is to simply consider the type of exercise that one usually does, then try to think about which muscle groups that are not being engaged. If one primarily does aerobic exercise every day, try doing a different aerobic exercise or switching for strength training or flexibility training occasionally. Machines at the gym can be a great way to specifically target different muscle groups, such as a rowing machine.