Just as dryland athletes hit the pool to cross-train in a heavy-resistance environment, it’s important for swimmers to take the time to train on dryland to maintain bone density, among other benefits. According to a 2012 Forbes article, “yoga, running, and cycling are a fabulous trio of cross-training exercises, which if done regularly and well, can prepare you for many other physical endeavors you won’t or don’t believe you can do.” At AquaGear, we believe that cross-training is paramount to a successful swim. Focusing on weight-lifting, yoga, and/or running – in addition to your regular swim training sessions – will help you to become a more efficient athlete.
Why is cross-training so important for swimmers? For one, cross-training gives the body and mind a chance to focus on irregular tasks. Not only do cross-training activities challenge endurance levels and normally-untouched sets of muscles, but such activities also give the mind a break from the monotony of a single sport. Or, worse yet, a single routine. Plus, varying your workouts prevents overuse injuries and keeps the body balanced.
Weight-Lifting for Swimmers
Increasing muscle strength outside the pool directly impacts your stroke speed and efficiency in the water. Exercises that strengthen the shoulders, arms, back, core, and upper legs are especially beneficial to swimmers. Plus, dryland, weight-bearing exercises – those only available outside water’s weightlessness – are extremely important for any swimmer looking to gain an edge over their competition.
Yoga for Swimmers
Flexibility and speed go hand in hand. Just ask record-holder & Olympic medalist, Dana Torres, who attributes her career’s success and and it’s unusual longevity to the help she received from her stretching coaches. Any high level swimmers who is serious about their sport should put a great deal of emphasis on full body flexibility in order to speed up their stroke’s efficiency. And, because yoga challenges the entire body in a wide range of stretches and muscle building poses, it’s an easy way for cross-training swimmers to increase flexibility that they often lack in the water. Even a simple stretch band session performed pre-swim will make for a longer reach and an easier rotation.
Running for Swimmers
Because swimming and running are both endurance-based sports, swimmers benefit greatly from the cardiovascular work required on the treadmill or track. While sprinting can be helpful at times, swimmers are benefited most by running at a moderate pace. A mid-level endurance workout will not only increase stamina on land, but will help build in-water endurance. Running on an incline or uphill can also help build swim-specific muscles. This type of workout strengthens your quads and hamstrings, both of which are needed for a powerfully propellant kick.