Want to know the cross-training benefits of swimming? Richie Porte and Mark Foster reveal all.
Getting pool fit is a great way to develop strength and improve your condition for other sports. If you shy away from pool training because you don’t like to race in the water, perhaps it’s time to rethink that approach.
THE BENEFITS Increased core strength
“The pool naturally encourages you to engage your core muscles, developing all-round stability,” says Foster. This has a knock-on positive effect when it comes to supporting your torso during cycling and running, as well as improving power transfer and output from the leg muscles.
Cycling and running, in different ways, place a significant stress on your joints, including the hips, knees and ankles. Swimming in the water relieves these sport-specific stresses, says Porte, because it frees you from the confined working ranges posed by the bike and the impact of the run.
These days, Porte uses swimming to relax his mind away from the high-stress environment of pro cycling. Foster agrees: “I think that even the sights and sounds of the water can be relaxing, as well as the feel of it as you swim.”
Swimming forces you to control your breathing while maintaining your stroke technique and effort level. “There’s nothing that can keep you as fit as swimming does,” claims Porte. “It works everything!” That includes your heart and lungs, which cyclists often refer to as their “engine”.
MAXIMISE TRAINING 1 Mix it up
“Changing strokes, distances and drills when swimming is a great way to ensure an all-round workout. It also means you can focus on specific goals,” says Porte.
2 Vary your pace
“Changes of pace, from steady to maximum effort, are ideal. They allow you to train for longer, as well as work towards different goals, such as burning fat, building lung capacity and recovery from tough sessions,” says Foster.
3 Bust out some kick
“Grab a kickboard and do some steady kick for low-impact active recovery after a hard day,” says Porte.
4 Add fins to your workout
“Using fins allows you to move faster, which not only feels good, but can also work the legs harder because of the added resistance,” recommends Foster.