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Swimming for bike fitness

manxshredmanxshred Posts: 289
edited September 2016 in Training, fitness and health
I got an email from Wiggle this morning pushing swimming for bike fitness

I was already planing on doing some swimming during winter as some different cardio/strength training. The workouts they are putting forward as quite interesting, but I'll probably just end up just doing some lengths.


  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,717
    Newsflash - water sports manufacturer promotes swim-related fitness activities ;)

    Swimming is great for general fitness, but it's unlikely to be any better for 'bike fitness' than the equivalent amount of cycling.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Speedo are telling us that Richie Porte was keen on swimming.

    Can't help but think he might have done better if he'd done less of that and more biking ;-)

    (If Froome turns out to be a big fan of it I reserve the right to take back this view !)
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    I am a firm believer in cross training .. but swimming for cycling ? I just don't see the cross over, Swimming leaves me shattered when I go, stupidly hungry, weak, my arms are like jelly

    I feel nothing the core or legs though ... nothing

    I suppose its a good way of not putting on weight, burning up extra calories and keeping your Cardio Vascular fitness up during the times you might spend less time on the bike .... but I think I would want to compliment swimming with a few more leg-centric sessions, ie the turbo, the real bike, squats, pylo even running
  • As ever it depends on the alternatives. If it's a question of swimming or doing nothing, better to do the swimming.
  • That was my goal for the winter. The number of hours I do drops due to weather etc. So while I increase the intensity by spending time on the turbo, you do not burn as many calories. And since I like my food too much, I see this as a way to supplement my winter biking.
  • ManxShred wrote:
    increase the intensity by spending time on the turbo, you do not burn as many calories.

    Not sure how that works, or do you mean that you spend less time overall?
  • harry-sharry-s Posts: 282
    I'll admit I haven't checked the link out.
    I think it's pretty obvious that front crawl isn't going to do much for your cycling, there's not a lot of leg work going on there. It's nice to have a change though (or maybe rehab after an injury), and treading water with your arms folded isn't a bad work out. Try swimming a few lengths on your back with your palms on your hips, using only a kicking action (not a breast stroke type kick), and you'll be suffering pretty quickly. A tough, but satisfying one to master is front crawl without the arms, a good core and leg work out. One to keep hold of the lifeguards attention too.
  • You don't see many fat swimmers*...

    *I'm not talking about the pools around Benidorm either.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    You bloody do you know.

    And fat cyclists.

    Runners - less so. Probably as weight and impact isn't great for running.

    I don't really think that it's a strength thing really so much as the cardio workout you would get from it. Then again I'm so pants at swimming its not really a cardio exercise at the speed I can muster.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,533
    Developing a upper body muscles seems to be the opposite of what pro cyclists want to do to improve their cycling, so unless you do some really weird swimming I think it would be the worst thing for bike fitness. Better off doing spin classes etc, or even running.

    However, my winter regime is alot of gym work specifically to build up my upper body, which I neglect in the summer because I spend every moment possible on the bike for exercise. But this upper body work is to get a more balanced body while keeping up some cardio exercise, NOT to improve my cycling... I do as much spin as possible to keep some bike fitness going too, but by the end of the winter that means I am very good at 45 minute hill climbs out of the saddle and then have th retrain back to endurance cycling in Feb/March.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Everyone should cross train and especially do weight bearing exercise like running. Cracks me up when people think only cycling is good for you.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,717
    AK_jnr wrote:
    Everyone should cross train and especially do weight bearing exercise like running. Cracks me up when people think only cycling is good for you.

    This thread is about swimming though...
  • sungodsungod Posts: 14,338
    i blame wiggle
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    Then again, swimming is important to cycling, because at some point in your life .. normally about mid-life crisis age, and you don't really give a censored about having a fancy car as you spend all your time on a fancy bike .... you will decide that a triathlon is a good idea ..... and then you realise you cant swim 16 lengths to save your life
  • photonic69photonic69 Posts: 1,486
    A year or so ago I was doing a lot of swimming. Then a shoulder injury and the pool being drained for 7 months saw me doing a lot more cycling. I was reasonably bike-fit. When i finally got back in the pool it almost killed me! Breathing is key to good swimming and totally different to breathing in a bike. It's all about timing. Even my aerobic fitness feels different in the pool. When i swim I try to incorporate a lot of leg work too. Try doing 200m of leg kicks using a float board (front and on back) and you'll soon feel muscles in your legs you didn't know you had. Works well for glute, hip flexors and core work too especially on your back as you are trying to keep body in a straight line and you kick from your hips.
  • Swimming could help your cycling if done properly with the right technique. Being on a turbo would help you more but if you wanted a bit of variety or are carrying an injury it is an option.
    It is very good for general aerobic fitness. If you don't breathe properly you will probably just feel out of breathe all the time though. Never hold your breathe!
    It is good for core stability though once again requires your technique to be reasonable. Lots of people don't engage their core when swimming and have a poor body position. Watch in any pool for the ones moving effortlessly along doing front crawl compared to someone who likes like they are trying not to drown.
    You are going to burn calories and won't turn into a hugely muscled v-shape swimmer (look at the Brownlee's) that requires a weight training program and appropriate diet.
  • Cross training can be hugely beneficial for some sports, especially if you choose the other sports carefully. However some sports benefit more than others. I read an article some time ago that concluded that there is little benefit to the cyclist from cross training with any sport, so if your target is to improve your cycling you should be spending as much time on your bike as possible, maybe topping up with a little work in the gym.

    However if you care for your overall fitness then everyone should cross train, and if the sports don't complement each other then all the better as this will mean that you are maintaining different parts of the body. You shouldn't ignore the different aspects of fitness either. For most of us cycling is really good for strength endurance and cardio, but unless we are sprinters we won't really work on our explosive power, cyclists aren't particularly agile, and we generally only maintain flexibility and core strength to the extent that we need to in order to be able to hold our position on the bike.
  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,276
    I find a gentle swim and a steamer to be pretty good for recovery and a welcome change from cycling, it's also very good for core strength if done properly.
    Smarter than the average bear.
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