You're tired of your same old cardio workout routines: so consider cross training to blast away the cardio blahs.

How cross training fits into your mission

Cross-country skiing is one of the best cross-training activities for runners and cyclists. Aside from being an excellent cardio workout, it tones the buttocks, quads, hamstrings, calves, chest, lats, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs. Take your workout routines indoors and turn a ho-hum elliptical workout into a fun cross-country ski session.

By keeping the incline low and using the arm levers, you will simulate the heart-pumping snow sport, right down to the high calorie burn. Plus, working against resistance strengthens your butt, legs, shoulders, and arms (just like powering through the white stuff would). With this plan, you can squeeze in a ski outing--no matter what the weather is like outside.

How cross training works

Set an elliptical to manual and the incline to low and hold the levers with your hands at chest height in front of you. Warm up and then slightly increase the incline. Change the level or resistance every two minutes, adjusting it as necessary to meet the recommended rate of perceived exertion (RPE*). Steadily push and pull the levers as if they were cross-country ski poles, driving your elbows straight back as you pull. Be sure to take the time to cool down. A 145-pound woman will burn approximately 275 calories with this 30-minute workout.

*RATE OF PERCEIVED EXERTION (RPE) during your workout routines

The following scale will help you determine your RPE:

  • 1 is lying in bed or on the couch. You're not making any effort.
  • 3 would be the equivalent of an easy walk.
  • 4-6 is moderate effort.
  • 7 is hard.
  • 8-10 is the equivalent of sprinting for the bus. You can only sustain this for a very short time.