Swimming is known for being a great form of exercise. Some people do a whole lot more with it than just treat it as a way to improve their fitness–they get competitive with it. Anyone who wants to be a truly competitive athlete should seriously consider cross-training, whether their chosen sport is swimming or something else. So what sort of cross-training is beneficial for swimmers?
How mobile are you? Think about all the movement you do with your legs and your arms when you execute the different kicks and strokes though. You need a lot of mobility to do those effectively. You also need mobility in your spine to rotate your hips as you swim. Stretch regularly to improve and maintain your range of motion. Yoga, pilates, and dance are all great ways to cross-train and focus on your mobility.
You get a certain amount of resistance training while you swim thanks to the resistance the water offers. Still, you’ll do better if you incorporate some dedicated strength training into your cross-training regimen. Weight training and calisthenics are both popular ways to strength train. Focus on building your core, overall strength, and power. Planks, rowing combos, push-ups, pull-ups, curls, squats, and flutter kicks are all great exercises that you can use when strength training.
Cardio may be the most obvious form of cross-training for swimmers. It’s a great way to improve the strength of your heart and lungs, the latter of which is essential in improving your breath control. Try HIIT workouts, cycling, running, hiking, climbing stairs, or playing other sports that get your heart rate up. As you improve your cardiovascular fitness, your body will get more effective at taking in oxygen thanks to improved lung capacity. From there, your improved cardiovascular endurance means you can circulate blood and the oxygen it carries more efficiently, providing your muscles with much-needed oxygen and fuel. That leads to improved speed and endurance while you swim.
Cross-training as a swimmer is a great way to improve your competitive edge. When you cross-train you can improve in areas that offer obvious benefits but also in areas that offer less directly obvious benefits to you as a swimmer. At the end of the day, both will make you a stronger swimmer and therefore a stronger competitor.
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