11 Cross-Training Activities That Boost Swimming Performance

Whether you swim for enjoyment or to practice for a contest, it may be easy to consider swimming as the only physical activity you should be doing.

Although there are many advantages to interweaving one’s swimming exercises with other sports, doing so allows you to get the fullest out of your physical condition and to stand out from your competitors.

Getting physically stronger, enhancing aerobic fitness, and becoming more flexible are all goals that can be accomplished off the pool and can improve your potential in the pool.

Cross-training activities and benefits for swimmers

Kids must be allowed to play a range of sports during their formative years, and this is why schools have a physical education curriculum.

If your offspring are passionate about swimming, there is no motive for them to abstain from taking part in other sports as well.

It is likely one of the most critical reasons to help enhance bone strength. Engaging in high-impact activities such as jogging, soccer, rugby, tennis, and volleyball will cause bones to become more massive, leading to robustness and reducing the chances of having osteoarthritis as an older adult.

The same as with muscles, bones will become stronger when exposed to jarring or additional weight that needs to be supported, because they will be adapting to bear the burden.

For young children and adolescents, running, jumping, and other forms of weight-bearing physical activity can help keep their bones robust and healthy. This is especially true while they are in the water.

It is important to ensure that young swimmers remain engaged and interested while they work out. Before their pre-teen years, participating in swimming drills repeatedly throughout the week may lead to them becoming disenchanted with the activity.

Introducing team sports such as water polo, football or netball to the training is a great way to let swimmers diversify their routine, as well as strengthen their muscles and increase their aerobic endurance levels, which will benefit their swimming training.

1. Hitting the gym

Perhaps this one is the most obvious.

Elite athletes who wish to improve their performance in the pool should include a gym program in their training regimen, in addition to their swimming training.

It is not a requirement for you to attend a gym. It is simple to perform exercises from home that will have a positive impact.

Developing strength is a key component for swimmers. The stronger you are, the more energy you can generate with your movements, resulting in a greater push as you swim. This can significantly improve your overall swimming speed.

You should create a gym workout plan that incorporates exercises which push the muscles relied upon when you swim. The main muscles of the body consist of the quadriceps, the pectoralis major, and the latissimus dorsi.

While it is crucial to building the necessary muscle strength to move forward, having robust core strength is equally necessary.

Having well-developed core muscles will make your body more hydrodynamic in the water, provide support when you are doing different strokes, and make it easier to manoeuvre during turns. The primary muscles that make up your core are the abs (both transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis), obliques (inside and outside), and erector spinae.

It is necessary to not forget when doing weight-lifting or bodyweight exercises that proper form (performing the action in the right way) is critical.

It is essential to get your muscles accustomed to the proper form of the activity before adding more difficulty to it. Not utilizing the appropriate technique may lead to harm or an incorrect strengthening of muscles.

Before you participate in any activities at the gym, it is important to have a proper demonstration from a trainer so that you understand the movements correctly. If you work out in your house, consider getting a private workout with a trainer or having someone familiar with the proper form watch you.

2. Running up aerobic stamina

The capacity to preserve amounts of exercise for an extended period is known as aerobic endurance. Swimmers should have a special emphasis on this in their training, as they could potentially spend an hour or longer doing a set.

Enhancing your aerobic endurance will reduce how quickly exhaustion sets in, allow for a lower heart rate during exercise, upgrade the effectiveness of circulating oxygenated blood to your active muscles, and help you train your breathing.

While it’s possible to perform all of these activities in the pool, drills done for the purpose of refining technique and improving stroke rate won’t necessarily help with cardiovascular endurance.

Running is one way to improve your cardio.

Interval or hill running is a great way to build your aerobic endurance – alternating quick running with a period of slower running for recovery. This could resemble 10 seconds of running as quickly as you can, trailed by a 30-second stroll back to the starting spot, and rehashing the cycle.

You can perform a variety of interval exercises, from Fartlek training to pyramid intervals.

Interval training is extremely beneficial because it can be conveniently performed in any setting – such as a treadmill, an open space, a bike, or a rowing machine. Interval training can help with not only physical but also mental strength due to being able to persevere through exhaustion and carry on with the training while feeling tired, which will have a similar effect in the water.

3. Build core strength and flexibility with yoga

Yoga might not be the first type of exercise which comes to one’s attention when discussing cross-training, however, it is a highly beneficial activity for swimmers to partake in.

Yoga poses should be used at the beginning and end of your exercise routine to promote better muscle stretching, joint mobility, and cooling down after an intense swimming session.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yoga is a great way of developing mental skills. Yoga can cultivate positive thinking, mental imagery, and calmness, which can steel your psyche for both sports competitions and practice.

These practices can aid you in managing apprehension before a race, picturing the race plan so that you can implement it accurately when the event starts and calming yourself so that your body and brain aren’t under strain as you get ready for the race.

Yoga is perfect for enhancing core, upper, and lower body strength, making it a perfect complement for swimming.

Yoga involves both stationary and active postures, so the strength you build has practical application.

Rather than just focusing on one direction of power, like raising the weight in a bench press, a dynamic posture can cultivate muscle strength in various postures. This strength is easily transferred to swimming.

This will also help make your joints more flexible, with a wider range of motions that will enhance the integrity of your joints and help stop getting hurt while swimming.

Another great benefit of yoga is breathing coordination.

Yoga shows you how to synchronize your breath with your movements, giving you more command over your respiratory rate and helping you stay easy as you do exercises.

Being relaxed while exerting effort while swimming can help strengthen your technique.

4. Gymnastics

If you have ever seen either a professional or a local gymnast, their well-developed muscles will be immediately apparent.

Gymnastics is an excellent way to build strength in every single muscle. This exercise is great for building up core muscles, which many swimmers don’t have the strength in.

Having strong core muscles is critical for success in competitive swimming. It aids you in becoming more powerful, and faster and having better body positioning in the aquatic environment.

Gymnastics can assist in improving movements such as quick rotations and sudden accelerations in the water. Gymnastics consists of a variety of flips, jumps and other dynamic activities that enhance strength and refine body movement.

Gymnasts usually possess extraordinary flexibility, which is an essential trait for skilled swimmers that hope to stay away from injuries in the pool. In general, gymnastics is an excellent way to supplement a swimming program.

5. Boxing

Boxers are known to be amongst the most hard-bitten sportspeople. They undergo vigorous workouts and exercise regimens, not just to be able to endure being hit in the face, but also to stay in top physical condition.

Pugilism can be an exceptional means of cross-training for those who take part in swimming. This activity necessitates an extreme level of cardio fitness, outstripping that of the majority of other sports. Hence, practising boxing will definitely boost a swimmer’s cardiovascular fitness, giving them more staying power in the swimming pool.

In addition, boxing works to build up virtually all muscles in the body. During a boxing session, it’s not unusual for someone to strike a 100-pound bag repeatedly with their fists and feet.

This will develop tremendous central strength, as well as strength in the upper and lower limbs, as well as a great deal of explosive power. In general, boxing is an exciting and enjoyable way to supplement swimming workouts!

6. Dry-land workouts

Dryland exercises are a fundamental and successful way of cross-training for swimmers. It is simple to focus on particular muscle groups to build strength through dry-land workouts.

The major benefit of dry-land training is the control that either you or your coach has over what exercises you do.

If you want to build better-performing strokes, you can focus on your lat development during dryland training by including pull-ups and other lat exercise variations.

Maybe you would like to increase the strength of your legs to help boost your dives and turns? If that’s the case, emphasize leg exercises like box jumps and jump squats, which will produce a more explosive response.

In conclusion, land-based exercise is a very commonly used and successful form of supplementary fitness activity for swimmers. To this day, professional athletes employ it to help maximize their swimming performance.

7. Weight lifting

Lifting weights is a popular choice among athletes striving to build strength and muscle power for the sport that they participate in. In our case, it is competitive swimming. Many Professional and Olympic swimmers utilize weight training to strengthen their muscles and gain more force to boost their proficiency in the water.

Pumping iron is the simplest method for athletes to build up strength and muscular size. It is vital to be careful when engaging in weightlifting.

If you do not utilize the right form while lifting or do not warm up thoroughly before working out, you can physically harm yourself which can lead to the rest of your season being cut short due to injury.

If you opt to use weight lifting as your cross-training approach, ensure that you understand the right way to do every lift. Don’t attempt to lift more weight than you are comfortable with if you are still not confident about a particular exercise.

Most importantly, always remember to warm up properly. In conclusion, strength training can be great for swimmers, as long as they practice caution so as not to hurt themselves.

8. Surfing

Swimming can be supplemented by surfing as an additional form of exercise. If you wish for this to be a feasible tactic for cross-training, you must reside in proximity to an ocean.

Surfing requires the repetition of many of the same body motions as those used in swimming, such as the freestyle or butterfly stroke when paddling into the sea.

This is essentially similar to swim instruction, however with an unusual addition. This is a great opportunity for swimmers to build strength in muscles used during swimming, to think differently about their movement patterns, and to have some fun in the ocean.

9. Water polo

Water polo is similar to surfing in that it works many of the same muscles and movements as swimming does. If you want to find an entertaining way to enhance your skills in competitive swimming while taking a break from the pool.

Working out in water polo requires employing lots of the same movements as swimming, while also providing a great workout for the muscles since you are tossing the ball around and maintaining your position on top of the surface of the water.

Swimming might be a more difficult experience than expected for those who try water polo.

Despite this, cross-training for swimmers is extremely beneficial for improving their speed and technique in the water, while at the same time providing a break from swim workouts.

10. Soccer

If you’re a supporter of soccer, you could advantage from devoting some time each week to competent up your swimming expertise, just make sure it won’t restrict how often you practice your swimming.

Playing soccer can help swimmers develop remarkable cardiovascular health, much like boxing does. This kind of cardiovascular fitness can then lead to more stamina in the water.

Additionally, playing soccer can help to develop muscular strength and agility in your legs due to recurrent ball-kicking. This means that your kicks will be both quicker and more powerful, in addition to having better initial movements and turns in the water.

Altogether, soccer can be a useful way for swimmers to work out and build their speed in the pool.

11. Running

In my opinion, if you’re seeking out activities to cross-train, then running must be your last choice as it’s quite dull. Although that is just what I think, some swimmers may prefer running for cross-training.

Running won’t have any significant strength benefits for swimmers. The only advantage that swimmers will acquire from running is developing their stamina. Making running an excellent complement for swimmers focusing on endurance or distance since they require a great deal of stamina in the pool.


Cross-training strategies can be exceptionally effective in enhancing your skills while swimming, particularly if you have had no past experience with cross-training.

Cross-training can give your muscle groups greater strength, allowing for heightened velocity and strength while performing activities in the water, it can reduce the likelihood of injury and boost your overall physical fitness.


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