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Why Does Cross Training Cause Muscle Soreness?

Cross training workouts can often lead to muscle soreness because they take your body out of the comfort zone it experiences in more regular workouts. Cross training workouts typically engage and work out a range of muscle groups, rather than targeting one main part of your body. For athletes whose training focuses on a certain area of strength, cross training can be considered anything other than those typical workouts. Anytime a muscle group is engaged for the first time or in a different way than it is used to, soreness can result.

Think of it as your muscles coping with a transition and new phase of life, the same way you cope with a move or career change: some discomfort will result. Read below for explanations on the intricacies of the muscle soreness you may experience when starting a cross-training regimen.

Focusing on a Different Part of the Body

Cross training can account for any exercise that works muscles that usually get less attention from you. If you are a runner or biker, this could mean swimming, and vice versa if you're a swimmer. This could also mean a workout like yoga, Pilates or step for any of the aforementioned exercise preferences.

Athletes who exercise the same group of muscles all the time have conditioned those parts of their bodies to handle the impact and force from their training. As a result, those muscles are not sore every single time the athlete works out, but only if the workout is changed in intensity or length. Cross training involves activating an entire new group of muscles, leaving athletes feeling like they're starting exercising from scratch. 

Working Unusual or Peripheral Muscle Groups

More traditional forms of exercise, such as running and biking, target a more straightforward, main group of muscles in the body, such as quads, calves and gluteals. More alternative forms of working out, such as yoga, Pilates or even kickboxing, can often target the muscle groups that typically don't see as much of a workout. All of the above mentioned activities require strong balance from your core, putting abs and oblique muscles to the test. The movement required in many cross training forms also works smaller leg muscles, such as hip flexors and the tiny muscles on the very insides of thighs. Once these muscles get used to the action they're seeing in your cross training, the soreness should go away. 

Failure to Properly Warm Up or Stretch

Because cross training thrusts an entirely new workout onto the scene, you may need some adjustments in how you start and finish the workout. In any form of exercise, soreness can result because of the lack of a proper warm-up or cool-down and stretch.

If you do the same workout all the time, you may have learned how to properly begin and end that particularly fitness session, but some adjustments may be needed with the new form of exercise you've selected in cross training. Do some research on what muscles are targeted in the form of cross-training you plan on doing and determine what kinds of stretching exercises will best target those muscles.

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