Swimming: A Perfect Cross-Training Activity for Cyclists and Runners

Swimming is one of the best methods of cross-training because it allows athletes to take a break without compromising their workout schedule. Running and cycling every day is not recommended because it is hard on your joints and your body needs about 2-3 days of rest each week. Thus, swimming allows you to utilize different muscles and gives your joints a break while still keeping up with endurance or speed work. All in all, it’s a favorite method of cross-training for many types of athletes.

Facts about swimming/water exercises:

  • Water cushions stiff joints, allowing for freer movement.
  • It also cushions joints that are injured by the impact of land exercises, making it ideal for rehabilitation.
  • When immersed to the waist your body only bears 50% of its total weight.
  • When immersed to the chest your body only bears 25%-35% of its total weight.
  • When immersed to the neck your body only bears %10 of its total body weight.
  • Water exercises can also relieve pain or stiffness by allowing freer movement without all of the weight bearing.
  • Water provides 12 times the resistance than air which helps build strength and endurance.
  • Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout, making it a great cross-training choice for runners and cyclists.

Here are two swimming workouts to try:

Running in Water
To run in the water, use belts that are specifically designed to keep you in a vertical position while in the water (the belts also offer buoyancy which allows you to run in motion while in the pool). Try to imitate your normal running form. Keep your fists closed. Allow your legs to move forward. Take short and fast strides. You can also switch to high knees and march in place.

To figure out how long to do this exercise for base it upon your land workouts; for example:

1. If you normally run an interval of 10 x 400, take that time and multiply it by 10.
2. 10 x 1:45 is the effort that should be used in the pool.

Swim Laps
Alternate between freestyle, breaststrokes, and backstrokes to help reduce muscle fatigue. Start off by doing about 10 laps back and forth in the pool.With each lap, see if you can improve your time (if you’re going for speed). For endurance, increase the number of laps. Remember to start out with a number of laps and a speed that is comfortable to you and work up gradually to avoid injury.

How do you use swimming as a cross-training activity?

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