T Nation

Interference: Training and Swimming


I've been leafing through Schuler's 'New Rules of Lifting', and one thing he mentioned in it caught my attention (for those that have it, it's on pages 83-85).

He talked about the adverse effects of doing both strength oriented exercises and endurance oriented exercises in equal proportions (ex: each three times a week, separately) and how you would still get increases in strength and endurance (obviously not as much of each if you were just focusing on one), but your body would choose endurance over muscle growth.

His solution for this was to do them at the same time (ie hour of lifting, then an hour of running/swimming/cycling).

I don't quite understand the logic behind it though, and he didn't go particularly in depth in the book. Can anyone expand on why this would work?

Assuming that this is true, I'm wondering if I could add swimming to my training days (before/after - would it make a difference?). I used to swim competitively and stopped due to injuries, but still miss it and would like to add it back in... but without compromising what I'm trying to accomplish in the gym (strength and some size).



Well are your goals to get good at endurance swimming again? Or to get big?

I just finished my high school swimming career, chose not to swim here at college because I have different goals in life now, i.e. bodybuilding.


I'm not planning on competing again, if that's where you were headed. I wouldn't mind the endurance I had back when I swam a lot, but my main goal right now is to be really strong. Any size that comes along with that is an added bonus.

I just like swimming and wanted to know if I could work it in somehow as Schuler was talking about... but I don't understand his justification of how it could work. If swimming would halt my large strength/size gains, then I wouldn't do it.


I swim rather a lot and think it rocks. However, I am not a swimmer but an enthusiast. So I normally alternate it with running, e.g. A day when I do upper body work I will run. A day when I do mostly legs I will swim.

Also, I have noticed that if I am lifting a lot and quit swimming I tend to get more shoulder pain. I suspect that swimming is keeping my rotator cuffs happier.

Since resistance in the pool is proportional to speed, if you want to really work consider doing some sprints. I like tabatas for swimming. These are an intensity protocol that is

20 sec. exercise + 10 sec. rest

repeat 8 times (for 4 minutes). I know if I do a swim (1/2 hour) and throw in a couple of tabata sets in the middle with say crawl, I definitely feel the burn. A poor man's tabata in the pool can consist of counting strokes, btw, if you can't see a clock. If its a 25 m pool, one length works out to being roughly one tabata set (i.e. about 30 seconds to cross the pool if you are really moving). So completely floor it for 3/4 of the pool length, back off for the rest then ricochet off the side and repeat. You can also vary the stroke inside the tabata, e.g. alternate crawl + butterfly.


-- jj


If you are looking to do it just for conditioning, 1-2x week shouldn't hurt your other goals, and do other conditioning stuff as well(intervals, etc).