Using Swimming for Cross Training and Recovery

I started running in 2011. Never having run before, and at the time being severely overweight, my body constantly felt beat up. I found myself having back, leg and knee issues all the time because of the impact being put on my unconditioned legs.

Over time, through lifting weights and gradually building up leg muscle, I began to experience less pain. But what one of my friends that has a PhD in Physiology told me has forever changed the way I train and workout – and that was to recover and cross train with swimming.

I was hesitant at first, because I always felt that if I was not intensely sweating, that I was not getting a workout. But in doing a bit of research, I realized that swimming can burn a tremendous amount of calories while building muscle because of the water resistance.

Training For a Race

So, I tried it. On my non-running days I would hit the water. And what I realized was that I was getting stronger, while not being as fatigued as I was on running days. So fast forward to two and a half years later. I have completed one marathon, twelve half marathons and countless other triathlons, endurance races, mud runs, etc. I am currently training for my next marathon. Building up to that, I have one LONG run a week, which is usually anywhere from 15-20 miles. No matter what else I have to do that next day, I am for sure scheduling pool time!

Recovery After the Race

The last thing you want to do after a day like that is completely rest, so swimming is a great way to rehab and keep the blood flowing to the muscles. Even if I don’t swim laps, I definitely get in the pool for at least an hour and do some general pool exercises. For example:

  • Water Walking
  • Lateral Raises
  • Leg Lifts
  • Roman Water Chairs

Swimming is a great form of primary exercise or as you can see, an excellent way to cross train to recover and build other muscles. It’s great if you are just beginning an exercise program or are a seasoned athlete.