After a challenging workout, whether it be a run or ruck in Summer temperatures or a high repetition calisthenics workout mixed with cardio, following it with swimming is a great addition. Here are the top five reasons why adding a swim or water movement workout at the end of your day will enhance your training goals:
- Cools Body Temperature – After a hot or sweaty workout in humid or arid environments, the pool water can be very refreshing. In fact, after about 5 minutes in cool pool water, you will start to feel refreshed and renewed. If you are hot and tired, hydrate and jump into the pool and simply tread water for 5-10 minutes; this is an easy way to transition into the water and allow you to cool yourself. You will likely have the energy for a short segment of swimming laps or practicing some technique work on your stroke.
- Second Wind - After getting into the pool, many call this newfound energy a “second wind”. Perhaps you are actually overheated and cooling yourself down helps you overcome the fatigue brought on by tough workouts. There is an old saying that “half of fatigue is body heat.” I am not sure if that is scientifically based, but I can verify that getting into a pool after a tough, hot and sweaty workout when you thought you were done will enable you to shortly acknowledge that you have some energy left to end your workout with some swimming sets. See treading article.
- Mobility Work – One of the best ways to recovery from long runs, rucks, or challenging high repetition PT or leg days is to get in the pool and swim or tread water. Adding in all the dynamic stretches you can think of in chest deep water is another way to add to your pool time after a workout. It has saved me during high mileage running cycles when ending a workout with a 10 minute tread (using a variety of kicking methods) to loosen up the hips, knees, and lower body muscles / tendons. See pool mobility after workout article.
- Practice Skills / Techniques When Tired – It requires greater focus to work on swimming skills and techniques when tired, but it is a great way to learn or keep in memory what is required to efficiently move in the water. If you feel too tired to swim, focus on other elements in the water you may have in your future like treading water (which I call vertical swimming), drownproofing, or other survival skills.
- Transition to Shower - Get your day started with a tough workout on land topped off with a session in the water and the transition to the shower and the rest of your day has begun with new energy to tackle the day. You will need to eat and hydrate near immediately after long workouts like this, but ending the workout with some pool time will help you be immediately productive afterward.
This is literally how I start my day nearly every day. An early morning PT, lift, or run, followed by a combination of different swim workouts. Using fins on leg days, adding pushups / abs on the pool deck in between sets on upper body day, and taking some time to cooldown with treading and dynamic stretches to end the workout. Also if you are not much into swimming, just get in the pool, tread water for a bit and do some basic movements in chest deep water – you will not regret it.