Cross-training?

njoynjoy Member
edited March 2012 in General Discussion
This has been touched on some in other discussions, but I'm nosy enough to start a separate thread about it. I'm curious about any cross-training people do. What do you do, and what do you get out of it? How does it help your swim training?

I'll start, since I started. Right now I'm swimming 4 days a week, for about 23,000 yards total. I run 3 days a week, between 15 and 20 miles total. I run because frankly I don't want to swim every day, but I do want to exercise every day. Running rests my upper body but gives me a tough workout (it's hilly around here). I feel ready to get back in the pool or open water after a run day. I feel good about myself for running 6, 8, 10, 13.1 miles. Feeling physically and mentally rested from swimming makes me a better swimmer. I swim harder because I *want* to.

OK, enough about me. :)
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Comments

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Wow! Do you take days off? That's 7 out of 7 days of working out each week!

    As for me, my cross-training right now is pretty much just walking. I try to hit at least 10,000 steps a day, which for me is somewhere in the 4-4.5 mile range. I'd like to add weights 2x per week, but just can't keep it consistent. Perhaps at my next job.
  • njoynjoy Member
    Hi, IronMike. Ya, if I'm feeling tired or lazy or busy or whatever, I'll take a rest day. I'm really not so awesome. :)
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Charter Member
    edited March 2012
    I do yoga. My coach gave me a choice of yoga or weight training for core strengthening. I picked yoga because it's more fun than weight training, and it's a big help with the mental aspect of swimming.

    I swim 7x/week, and I'm supposed to do yoga 3-4 times per week. I'm doing more like 6x per week right now on the yoga because a.) I am insane and b.) my yoga studio is having a contest where you get a free month if you do 25 classes in 30 days. It is impossible for me to resist a challenge like that. Any competition that requires effort but not skill, I'm in. I'll be happy when the 30 days are up, though.

    My rest day is a 1500-yard easy swim once per week. Followed by an all-out sprint to my car to get to yoga on time.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    That's funny WG. Do 25 sessions a month so you can get the next month free, but you're so sore and tired you only go a few times!

    I think StS will require effort...so you and I are good!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    - Hiking, once a week. 5-10 mile round trip, 1500-2500ft. net elevation gain, per adventure.
    - Free weights, once a week.
    - Bands & core, twice a week.

    That's what I aim for, anyway. Sometimes I fall short.

    In the not-fully-immersed but not-quite-dryland category, I've been really coveting a stand-up paddleboard. Unfortunately a good one costs almost as much as a channel swim.
  • njoynjoy Member
    Haha, WaterGirl! "Free" is a good motivator! If you're ever in the Long Island area, I know of bar with a chicken wing challenge that might interest you. :)

    Evmo, I would love to try paddleboarding. Maybe this summer. (On a rental.)
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited March 2012
    @evmo this site was recommended by Bruckner C for used SUPs. Many more options in Cali than NY.
    http://www.eatonsurf.com/UsedPaddleboardsRedux.htm
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    These are the things done in the winter and early spring before putting in the longer swims worked out with a trainer ...get heart rate up using olypitical or other for 30 minutes per session, erg/rowing, one legged push ups on a pysio Ball (2 sets of ten...hands on side of ball balancing on the toe of one foot and other leg off the ground), Cross body cable pull, rotator cuff band work with light weight 15-20 reps per set, various free weight sets of 10 reps or so, yoga balancing moves such as the warrior pose ...a lot of core work to take the load off the shoulders when putting in those long swims...interval training in the pool to prepare for sprinting through a tough cross current..most of this with the exception of the core work was dropped once the longer swims started.
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
    Great discussion, I've long debated the benefits vs. costs of cross training, specifically weights. I think strength training is an important component to swimming (specifically shoulders, back, core) and an essential for people who primarily do non-weightbearing activity (aka swimmers), but there's a fine line between being strong and bulking up or becoming too dense in the water. In the past, when I've gotten too into either running and/or cycling I notice a significant change in my body position as my legs sit lower in the water (gives me sympathy for triathletes!).

    Currently, I do a gym workout twice a week which consists of light weights (shoulders, back, and some PT exercises), band work, and a core circuit. I was running once a week with @Mmead but our schedules haven't been matching up lately so I've been hiking instead (although I'd like to restart our runs!). I also do yoga at least once a week, which I agree, @watergirl, helps mentally as much as anything.

    When I slack off on the gym workouts during high volume swim training is when my shoulder gets aggravated, so for me the gym (specifically PT/shoulder stuff) is a prerequisite to my swim training. Unless I look at it that way, it doesn't get done. The other things are supplemental; helpful, but if it comes down to a swim v. yoga/run/etc., swimming wins.
  • njoynjoy Member
    Thanks Jen and Sharko for the input. So I have been debating with myself the benefits of cross-training for distance swimming, which is why I was looking to learn from you guys here. I wonder how much running helps me. Clearly it's great for overall fitness and as a weight-bearing exercise, and it takes a certain amount of mental toughness. I don't need to do the swim volume that some of the folks here are doing, but I still want to make the best use of the workout time I have to prepare for the swims I have planned.

    Thanks to everyone for the help.
  • lcolettelcolette Charter Member
    I do a lot of the normal like biking, running, weights, etc but I also do Aikido. It helps me with all over body soundness and also helps my head and concentration.
  • njoynjoy Member
    lcolette: I looked up Aikido. It sounds like it is very beneficial to swimming and life in general. Great idea.
  • holte2fholte2f Charter Member
    my Concept2 rower is my best swimming support.. core strength and shoulder exercise without getting all muscle tight.. love to run, but as I've moved up to 17 to 20hrs swimming a week I've found that anything more than a 5 miler once a week leaves me dragging legs in the pool... rower is the best for me and my stretch bands
  • I entered 9 sprint and 1 Olympic distance triathlon last year, as well as a Half Marathon, and 3 open water swims. I believe that my swimming helped to increase my endurance for cycling and running. Swimming is my strong point, which will not win an age group triathon, but my goal was always to win, or do very well, in the swim portion, which I typically could do. This year I have entered one 2 Sprint, 3 Olympic, and one Half Ironman, and one Marathon, and also several open water swims. After this year, I will cease or limit the running, cycle strictly for leisure, and full speed ahead on the swimming, my first love! A seed has been planted for a Channel swim, I will see how the cold water training goes before fully committing to that.
  • SylleSylle Gothenburg, SwedenMember
    I found cross-country skiing to be a great way of keeping fit and working on coordination. I did Vasaloppet (90km) about a month ago after about 2 months of training without much previous experience of the sport. When it was time to jump back into the pool I was quite happy to notice that I was able to use interval times quite close to my best almost straight away.

    Re coordination and technique, it's pretty similar to swimming imo, there a long gliding phase and you notice it immediatly (becoming super speedy!) when you get the arm-leg coordination right. Plus you have different styles, just like swimming strokes.

    It's also very fun, I would get bored running only 40 minutes or so, whereas 2-3 hours of skiing seemed to pass very quickly.
  • PabloPablo Member
    I asked myself how I could replace 8 hour swims with 3 hours and get the same training effect. I just don’t have the time to swim 8 hours a day. What I hope is the right answer is weights. For 10 months I hit the weight room three days a week. Warming up with a 20 to 30 min run on the treadmill, followed by weights, working myself to the point I would crawl out of the weight room. At that point I jumped in the pool. Over 10 months I increased my swim volume from nothing to about 30k yards a week, including weights, training 6 days a week.

    After 10 months I took two months off weights and increased the volume to about 45k a week. I got significantly faster and the volume came much easier. Now I am back in the weight room 2 x week and have increased my volume to 50k. Swimming feels good, but I do have a bit of tendonitis in my elbow.

    I hope to steadily increase the volume through April, but at some point something has to go, so it will be the weights. So far, I’m a believer in functional strength training. I’m not big on throwing heavy dumbbells around. My program integrates a large range of full body movements with an emphasis on the core. As a has been triathlete I am a big believer in cross-training.
  • njoynjoy Member
    holte2f: I have long felt that the rowing machine is the most underused piece of gym equipment. It works out muscles you forget you have. About 10 years ago I wasn't swimming, and I used the rowing machine regularly and found it pretty satisfying.

    nvr2late: Love all the triathlons! My husband is a triathlete; it's a great sport. I don't think I can manage a full marathon (knees), but I'm actually guaranteed a spot in the 2013 NYC marathon. We'll see how it goes. Good luck with all your training and events.

    Sylle: I tried cross-country skiing once and thought it was great. Totally can see how it helps your swimming. Would love to try it again.

    Pablo: Just reading your workout regimen makes me tired. Awesome. I probably should hit the weights more. I'm inspired.

    Thanks, everybody, for the great comments.
  • This is a fascinating thread. I've recently picked up running to refresh my routine, and while I hardly devote any time to it, the sense of pace and aerobic capacity from marathon swimming are really paying off. I ran a 10k race without really preparing for it, and these days I'm preparing to run a half marathon in Feb with a fairly modest, three-times-a-week running program. My favorite weekdays are those in which I get to run AND swim.
  • njoy said:


    I'll start, since I started. Right now I'm swimming 4 days a week, for about 23,000 yards total. I run 3 days a week, between 15 and 20 miles total. I run because frankly I don't want to swim every day, but I do want to exercise every day. Running rests my upper body but gives me a tough workout (it's hilly around here). I feel ready to get back in the pool or open water after a run day. I feel good about myself for running 6, 8, 10, 13.1 miles. Feeling physically and mentally rested from swimming makes me a better swimmer. I swim harder because I *want* to.

    I've got a similar, though less hardcore, regimen. I'm doing three swims a week for a total of about 15,000 yards, plus three runs a week for about 20 miles per week. Hard to find time in my schedule for more. Like njoy, the alternation between legs and shoulders/arms seems to work for me. I do a half marathon per month so that I have an event to look forward to. Currently working up to doing Anacapa --> Oxnard, but I have a ways to go on volume and have done very little cold water acclimatization. Good to have dreams, I guess. . .
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    We've recently been resorting to running as a means of rewarming when we swim at beaches with no fireplace across the street. The Northwest has gorgeous wooded areas. A 2k swim at a state park beach followed by 5-10k of trail running will leave you warm, possibly a bit bloody, and thoroughly exhausted. I'm not convinced you actually warm up faster while running, but at least it keeps your mind on something other than shivering.

    And that is how I fell back into my running addiction.
    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.
  • My schedule is:
    Swim 3 days - averaging close to 5000 yds per workout
    Elipitical 2 days - 55 minutes at a high intensity
    2 days of strength training/core work

    I'm swimming a lot stronger now than I was 10 yrs ago. It could be the weight I've lost or that I'm in better condition or both. I was commneting to a lane mate last week that I'm amazed that in the last two years, what I thought of as barely makeable time intervals have now become almost like recovery swims and time intervals that were unmakeable are now comfortable.
  • For me, on the best of weeks, it's five swims, three runs, two sessions of weights and two sessions of yoga. As I reduce (when life gets in the way) I try to keep the proportion.
  • Urgent request to fellow swimmers for advice, tips, good links etc.!

    I have just been posted to a place ( Kabul - what was I thinking...) where I wonder if over the next two years I will get any swimming done at all ( longest pool = 15 m & half a dozen checkpoints and security checks on the way to get there & invitation only...).

    My only realistic training options for the next two years here will be mainly a reasonably well equipped weight room (dumbbells, barbell bench, smith machine, kettlebells, ...) and some cardio equipment ( running, crosstrainer, rowing, spinning bikes).
    I have started a strength program ( Stronglifts 5 x5) complemented with some core work, and am actually enjoying it more than I thought I would. But making it fit one's marathon swimming ambitions is more difficult.

    Some questions to get some advice from fellow swimmers:

    @ all: does anybody have any personal experience with/ ideas for keeping up one's long distance swimming shape by training with weights and other gym equipment not as a complement, but actually as the main part of one's training for long periods of time?
    Suggestions for suitable body weight and kettlebell exercises also most welcome. Earlier comments provide some useful guidance, but anything more detailed, esp. own experiences, and detailed programmes are welcome. I hope to be able to do anywhere between 6- 10 session per week.

    @Sylle: if cross-country skiiing is such good support, do you think a cross trainer would have the same effect?

    Looking forward to getting some good advice, on this forum or through direct contact. My private email is mvgchannelswim@gmail.com.

    Cheers all!
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @MvG, I feel for you. When I was there, it was only for 4 months or so, so it wasn't as bad. But the one pool I went and looked at was disgusting. I wouldn't have swum in it even if I had the time (I didn't).

    If you do have a pool, even one only 15m (I swam for 3 years in the US Embassy in Moscow in a 15m pool, and did my first marathon swim on that training), you could always get one of those belts that you can attach yourself to a ladder and "swim in place" at one end of the pool.

    Or just get used to doing a lot of flip-turns. ;)
  • SylleSylle Gothenburg, SwedenMember
    @MvG, not much insight from me I'm afraid. So you're saying cross-country skiing is not an option?!? I haven't spent much time on a cross-trainer, people with more experience of these machines will be better suited to answer your question. One of the things that I found particularly pleasant about cross-country skiing was exercising in a cold environment. Swedes will happily go on skiing tracks when it's -20°C, but will be quite reluctant to jump in a late when it's less than 18°C ... so it was one way of doing cold training without be outed as a weirdo. Good luck with the new job and the training!
  • I run for cross training. I was a sprinter in college (yay 50 free!) and for me, running has helped switch my sprinting-ness to the continued aerobic-ness of distance swimming. I was in great shape in college, but it was different.
    I like running because I enter 5Ks and the competition is just fun and social, instead of the pressure I've always put on my swimming. I also started coaching cross country..which is actually closer to OW than swimming in many ways (plus, I'm kinda done with the pool..,including coaching a meet again).
    My overall schedule...when a swim is far away ("early in the season") I'll run 3-4 times a week and swim 4-5, including one OW. 30,000 yards and 15 miles running. At the peak of training, like now, I swim 9x week (3 are just short mornings..I am at 45-50,000 yards for the next month but it will peak at 60) and TRY to get out to door for one run. I add in some boring abs too.
    I actually really stick to what I learned in college, with dryland and workout intensity being inversely proportional.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    I've started lifting with my weights-loving wife. I'm experimenting there, too, @swimchica623. I'm doing two exercises: squats and presses (like military presses, but not as strict in how you stand). So far so good. We'll see how it affects my CSS.

    So far when I go with her, we do ~5 sets of each exercise. We'll do some smaller things on the side, like good mornings (with a light weight), pull-ups (she's a monster) and sometimes dips. But other than that, just swimming. God, if I had more time, I'd just add more swimming! I can't get enough of that in my week as it is, the last thing I need or can do is add another sport!
  • I wonder how many of you have the feeling that only some of your water fitness translates to your land sports. I've started distance running as cross-training and am training for my first half-marathon. I find that, when running on flat ground, I can go on forever, but stairs and hills are killing me. I guess we don't really ascend in swimming, nor do we use our big leg muscles to the same extent.
  • @heart...I feel like cross training translates to my swimming way more than the other way around. Like I will struggle forever to be a decent runner, and in my "off season" (a few months after a big swim) efforts, the extra effort in running will pay off minimally in the 5K runs, but big time in how I feel in the pool/ocean/gulf. Once a period of increased running is over, I'll be toying with the idea of running longer than 3 miles. But then I'll be back to swimming 9x a week, feeling stronger than ever, and squash that idea. :)
  • Oh! But surfing on the other hand...I can not surf for months, and as long as I'm swimming hard, be fine. Like better than if I were surfing some and not swimming hard. So that's the exception.
  • JacqueJacque Member
    Hi all,
    I am just finishing my first season of marathon swimming. I did my first 12 and 14 k this year, one of them being my first real crossing (beautiful Lake Constance) last Monday. I loved it and think I am completely hooked now, what a great sport!
    For next year I am planning on distances around 20-25 k and I know, I will have to increase my weekly distance in the water over the winter. Because of unfortunate limits (pool times, mostly) I was planning to start some cross training, too. I will continue to do some light core- and shoulder-workout 2-3 times a week, but that doesn’t really help with the distance problem and the necessity to do some of my basic endurance work outside the water. Since I strongly dislike every form of running or walking and think off my bike not as a piece of sports equipment, but something, that gets me from point A to point B, I was thinking of rowing (indoor mostly). I really liked it during my time at the university, where I practised it just for fitness and fun. So here are my two basic questions:
    1) How much of the basic endurance workout (heartrate up to 140/150) can you transfer out of the water so it adds to the basic endurance workout in swimming? This season around 70 % of my swimming was basic endurance and it really paid off during my longer swims this year. For next pool season I was planning to add 3-4 times of rowing per week to compensate for the fact, that it is impossible to increase the distance in the water accordingly.
    2) Are there any risks or disadvantages in the swimming/rowing-combination that I need to be aware of, like: Is it maybe “too much of the same”?
    Thanks!
  • SydneDSydneD Member
    I swim 5 days a week, without fail, and on my best weeks, also run 4 days a week. But then, I also homeschool our son and have a job so those weeks are hard to come by, especially during swim season.
    In the winter, I telemark ski as well, and chaperone my son's homeschool ski group so get to ski on a very regular basis. The telemark definitely helps with the quad strength but the swimming is what helps the other sports the most.
    Last winter, we went to Aspen for a week of skiing and while I have generally suffered from pretty intense altitude issues, I had nothing. I think my lung capacity has been greatly changed by upping my swim distances. I was so grateful to be without the headaches and cough that I've typically had there.
  • I swim 3-4 times a week, total max 20k. I'm doing a 15k race in October to give you an idea of my range. I realised that fitness wasn't enough at 10k so started going to the gym twice a week and it's made a BIG difference. Upper body in particular, I feel it with the swim so recommend it. I run 5-7k twice a week, I don't enjoy it but know it helps. Monday Run/Gym, tues swim, wednesday run, thurs swim, fri gym, sat long swim, sun swim or rest depending on family commitments. Cross train - vital.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Well, I've discovered that swimming with any consistency here in Bishkek will be almost impossible. I'm resigned to the fact that I might be taking a 2- to 3-year hiatus from marathon swimming, sadly.

    My wife is a dedicated weight-lifter, and she's often told me she'd love to see how much I'd improve if I lifted regularly. So I think my cross-training for the next 2-3 years will be my full-time training for the next 2-3 years.
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