Reasont to Add Weight Lifting to Your Swimming Workouts

GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images

Swimming is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. Because swimming is a nonweight-bearing exercise, it does not increase bone strength. Supplementing swimming with weight workouts helps boost bone density. Weight lifting also builds lean muscle mass, and because muscle burns more energy than fat, increasing your lean body mass helps speed weight loss.


Getting from the pool to the gym can be a challenge, as swimming already takes a hefty bite out of a busy person's day. Some aquatic facilities also have weight rooms for patrons to use, which makes working out before or after a swim more practical. Although gyms that are a part a swimming complex might not have the same variety and number of machines and options that dedicated gymnasiums offer, they often offer the specific equipment needed to complement a swimming regimen.

Time Frame

Working out only two to three times a week, and changing the focus of each workout gives muscles and joints a chance to recover. Overdoing it at the gym might lead to injury or fatigue during swim workouts. Some swim coaches say that weight workouts before or after swimming work equally well, although others insist that weight work is more effective before swim workouts. If swim sessions focus on arms, work out your legs in the gym, and vise versa. Generally, keep sessions between 15 minutes to 45 minutes.


Ideally, weight-building workouts enhance overall fitness and strength without piling on too much muscle bulk. Swimmers benefit from weight workouts that focus on low weights and high repetitions. Exercises should focus on improving weak areas, with a particular emphasis on building abdominal core strength. Weight machines smooth weight lifting and help avoid injury, and they allow users to do both positive and negative resistance workouts.

Lower Body Workouts

Weight machines typically exercise large muscle groups. Swimmers need to build stability in the smaller stabilizer muscles, so blending in free weight work into the routine is a good idea. In United States Masters Swimmer magazine, Masters swimmer and coach, Wayne McCauley, suggests starting a weight machine workout focusing on the lower body. Leg extensions work the quadriceps. Leg curls work the hamstrings. Use low weight and higher repetitions of 10 to 12. Squats improve power off the wall in turns, and works well when the swimmer balances a free-weight bar on his shoulder while doing the repetitions.

Upper Body Workouts

Upper bodywork includes pullovers, which exercise the latissimus dorsi, also called lats. Using the rowing machine helps build all the muscles in the back. Perform traditional bicep curls with low weights and high repetitions. Work the core abdominal group and build all-over strength and balance in the following two exercises. Balance on a large exercise ball, and hold two free weights. Lift arms up and out, to strengthen arms and shoulders, while also using stabilizer muscles to maintain balance. Repeat eight times. Hold two free weights and assume a push-up position. Lift one arm back, bending the elbow in a backwards-row motion, until the free weight reaches the hip. Hold the position for a second and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat eight times for each side.


Get expert advice before starting a weight lifting program. Learning the proper technique in using machines and free weights helps avoid injuries and inefficient exercise regimens. Swimmers usually lift weights for general fitness, and to improve swimming times rather than to build large muscles as form follows function.