T Nation

Swimming for Cardio

Just wanted some opinions on swimming for cardio. I haven’t swam in years but I decided to do a 500 meter yesterday to mix it up on the cardio days. I am currently doing CW’s TTT.

It seems to be akin to doing sprints because I have to take a breather after each lap but it has a couple of advantages over running.

As a 220 pound guy I find myself susceptible to impact related injuries like shin splints unless I run on a treadmill. The other limitation is the heat factor. I never run out of breath while running but become overheated even while indoors running on a treadmill. Swimming seems to eliminate both of these problems.

Another benefit I found is freestyle swimming puts more emphasis on the upper body as opposed to running and most other cardio where the emphasis is placed on the legs. I’ve found that too much jogging mixed with squatting equals a loss in leg size.

What do you guys think. Is the intensity level of swimming too much to do as often as a regular cardio session? My primary goal is strength and size.

I’m no expert, but I swam 3-4 times a week in addition to routines such as ABBH and ABBH2 and put on 35 - 40 lbs of lean muscle over the course of two years. I’m 6’4", 220 lbs, so I know exactly what you mean about the pounding that you take from running, but, bottom line, it worked fine in my experience, and if it’s working for you, go for it.

But as I said, I’m no expert.