Cross-Training: Swimming

Cross Training good blue


One of the most cross trained sports in the world is swimming in some form or another. Swimming like Parkour uses your whole body and requires practice to get better. Unlike Parkour it cannot be done anywhere but is much easier on your joints.









To read more about swimming and my plans to cross train click read more...

    For many tracuers who prefer fast paced and fluid motion the repetitive back and forth of Olympic swimming may not be appealing. Why then is swimming a good choice for cross training? According to the CDC Swimming can improve mood in both men and women. It has also been shown to decrees anxiety in people with Fibromyalgia. Most traceurs don’t have a problem with mode so what about the health benefits.

    Swimming has a plethora of health benefits. One benefit that is very beneficial to freerunners is increased bone density. Discovery health reports “that swimming will increase bone strength.” Swimming also improves flexibility. “unlike machines in a gym… swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible”. When you are swimming you are stretching the whole time. You lengthen your body, swing your arms and move your hips and spine as you kick and turn.

    Aside from those tertiary benefits some benefits that affect myself and other traceurs (especially starting traceurs) are improved muscle tone, improved muscle strength and joint protection. Swimming is actually resistance training. When you run or vault you are running through air. When you swim you are going through water which is about 12 times denser. I’m not saying that when you are done swimming that you will be able to bench 300 lbs instantly, but have you seen professional swimmers?

    Apart from noticeable muscles swimming also helps keep your heart in shape. It decreases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and because it is an aerobic exercise swimming helps the heart to stretch larger, and makes it more efficient in pumping -- which leads to better blood flow throughout your body.

    Swimming does all of this while protecting your joints. In addition to the flexibility increase discussed earlier swimming is easy in joints because it is low impact. While you are in the water up to your waist you are only supporting 50% of your normal body weight. Up to your neck and 90% of your weight is being handled by the water. This makes any kind of exercise you do in the water much easier on the joints.

    How is this beneficial to traceurs though? Increased muscle tone while not necessary for parkour is something that everyone wants. Increased muscle strength directly benefits everything else you do with your body from climbing the stairs to that 10 ft running precision you have been eyeing for months. Joint and bone strength and longevity are required to stay in parkour very long. I’m sure there are lots of people that had to retire early because they didn’t take to time to build up their joints properly.


    Why I chose swimming is a little more personal and unnoticeable. For me the cardio vascular improvement is a top priority. My father died when I was 9 from a heart attack his father died years before for the same reason. There is a long history of heart disease in my family and for a long time I didn’t take care of myself. I’m am also a victim of my mother’s second hand smoke which recently helped hospitalize my step-father. I need to strengthen my heart because, it is better than it was when I was overweight but it is not where it needs to be.


I plan on swimming two to three times a week for the next 2 months.


To be able to swim one lap using each of the major strokes (breast, backstroke, butterfly, freestyle)

Be able to swim at least 5 consecutive laps using one particular stroke.

Hypothesis: By the end of the two months I will be able to swim five laps freestyle and will be able to do all the basic stokes. I will be able to swim one lap using all the strokes except the butterfly.

My week will look like this:

Monday: Swimming (Endurance)
Tuesday: Parkour conditioning
Wednesday: Swimming (specific stroke)
Thursday: Parkour technical
Friday: Swimming (open)
Saturday: Parkour (play and flow)

If I miss a day of anything it will be swimming.

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Also there is some great discussion on the apk forum here. 


Want more training tips? Start with some of these great training books!

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