Swimming: Effective Cross-Training

Swimming is one of the healthiest endurance sports you can do, but many people are not big fans of this technically demanding sport. If you ask athletes why they don’t include swimming in their training, you often hear reasons like “swimming is boring” or “swimming makes me run slow.”

In today’s blog post, we'll show you how you can benefit from working swimming into your training and also offer a sample workout for beginners.

Positive training effects of working out in water

Swimming is a very efficient way to train the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, the metabolism and the brain. Of course, this sport isn’t meant to replace your cardio workouts, but it can be a very beneficial supplement to your training. Why? Because muscle imbalances caused by regular training like running and cycling can increase risk of injury. Swimming improves your body’s muscular balance and flexibility. The front crawl (aka freestyle) and back crawl (aka backstroke) are great for leg coordination and are easy on your knees and shoulders. When you swim, your heart rate is 10-15 beats lower than it would be by an equally intense running session. This relieves some of the stress on your cardiovascular system.

Swimming, aqua jogging and water aerobics are perfect cross-training workouts, especially during high-intensity or high-volume training stages. The water’s buoyancy reduces the stress on your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. This is why exercising in water is a good form of training for rehabilitation, physiotherapy and strengthening and maintenance training.

 Sample workout for beginners

Once you’re in the pool, you should start out with some in-water, warm-up work that is easy.

Some examples are:

200m swim, 200m kick, 200m pull, 200m swim

400-500m swim

2-4 x (150m free, 50m non-free)

2-4 x 400m (150 free, 50 non-free - repeated twice)

400m swim, 300m pull, 200m kick, 100m drill choice

Or an easy 10-15 minute choice of whatever you feel like doing

After you have done a thorough warm-up and ingested some fluids, it is time to move on quickly to a drill set to get your arms moving and heart rate up.A drill set will be a bit faster than your warm-up, but not as hard as your main set

Some examples are:

4-10 x 75m with 15 sec rest (kick, drill, swim by 25m; could also be pull, kick, swim or drill swim, drill, etc.)

3 x (100m pull, 50m swim)

2-4 x 150m (25m drill, 50m swim)

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