Swimming for conditoning

One of the key disadvantages to swimming is that it is not a weight bearing exercise. Anytime you need to support your own weight, you massively increase it's benefits. In swimming and cycling you don't have to do this. Consequently in order to get fit with them you tend to need to do more of them. Swimmers need to train upwards of four hours per day to get really good; runners are generally not more than two. That's not to say that swimmers and cyclists are not fit, they just need to do more. Since boxing (and MMA) is a weight bearing activity, it's better to run to get your training as specific to your event as possible.

One of the key advantages to swimming is the low impact. There are many injuries that runners can get to their shins, knees, ankles, etc. but how many injuries do swimmer get (besides drowning)? If you find pain when you run, swimming is a good alternative.

Swimming is also a good change of pace. I find doing the same exercise week after week pretty boring. Sometimes I swim, others I run, others I ride (that is of course when I'm not in the ring). I'd recommend using the pool on occasion but use weight bearing activities (running, skipping, running stairs, etc.) for long distance work if you're not injured. Remember to keep the staple of your training as ring work.

Hello, I've just started training in a boxing gym where I can also have access to a swimming pool. Nome of the boxers actually use it, instead the just go running. I'd like to know if swimming could be a good conditioning exercise for boxing. I read somewhere that swimming is not advised for losing weight or burning bodyfat because your body is not capable of producing much heat under the water. But what about endurance and stamina? Could it be a good alternative to running?

Good thread,

What sort of comparable routine might I do in a pool? -I run 20 minutes every other day then finish with sprints 100 meters, 6+ x's ... jogging the turns then sprinting the straights.

I learned the valuable lesson of having good shoes! But still it can be hard on the knees, I 'd like to know what somebody would consider a similar pool routine.

This is not really related to your question, but I've found swimming to be a great way to relieve lower back pain. I do a lot of deadlifting and sometimes my desire to do a pr overcomes my common sense with backstrain as the result. Swimming for an hour or so with my kids seems to do wonders for this. I'm not even doing pool laps--just kind of horsing around in the pool--and my back always feels better afterward.

There is a lot more you can do in the pool other than swimming laps. If you can't do more than two laps, or have trouble with the breathing then try deep water running. It's kind of like high intensity treading water. Your head is out of the water, body vertical. Do the same thing with your arms and legs as you would if you were running. You can slowly move up and down the pool or just stay in one spot. Either way, do some long time endurance work and throw in some sprints, just like if you were running. If you can't even tread water throw on a floater belt or a lifejacket.

If you still have no clue what I'm talking about, ask one of the "Aqua-cise" instructors how to do it. I know that they teach the fat old women "water bouncing" but you can get a pretty good workout with this kind of workout too with very little impact; everything they do, you just do harder. What I mean is if they are kind of bouncing in the shallow water, you can do explosive jumps by submerging to your shoulders and exploding into the air. The water provides resistance as you push out of the water.

I'm terrible at explaining physical skills but I'm sure if you watched a class you could figure out ways to make the exercises harder than the old ladies do. Most pools have them earlier in the morning. Your pool may even have an instructor's manual lying in the lifeguard office. Or try a web search for things like "deep water running", "Aqua-cise", or "Shallow water fitness". Or you can just wait for SCRAPPER to reply.

Ditto what Jimmy23 said.

I don't do underwater swims for any other reason than I enjoy doing them. But I will be careful and watch out for the hyperventilation angle from now on. More importantly I'll watch out for my kids doing it too. I'm sure they learned from watching me, because my girls both love to swim underwater and they both take deep breaths before doing so.

The things you pick up on this forum continue to amaze me.

Jimmy23, I can't think of any more benefits to swimming underwater. Girls that do syncro swimming can stay under for several minutes, so you can get better with practice, but that's not much advantage on land.

You lose consciousness from a choke due to blocked blood flow to your brain, not due to airway blockage so swimming under water won't help you stay conscious longer (if that's what you were thinking).

People might also think that it will improve your anaerobic capacity, but you are better off training with intervals to do that. Very rapid breathing is specific to MMA, while not breathing at all is not sport specific at all.


I'd be interested to know what benefit you thought of for hypoxic sets. I did "over-unders" during dive training and lifeguard training too because these are underwater activities, but what good are they for MMA or even general health? Are they so good that they are worth risking passing out underwater?

Passing out underwater is especially a risk if you take several deep breaths before you submerge. You end up oxygen starved before the "low oxygen" message reaches your brain. That way you don't even realize you need to come up for air until you are out-cold! Dangerous!

Scrapper, how high is the risk of passing out during hypoxic swimming? I'm 42 and have been doing this as long as I can remember and I've never felt I was ever close to passing out even when doing very long underwater swims (I got up to being able to hold my breath for over 3 minutes). To do that though, you've got to be able to go way past the point of mild discomfort.

I guess I'm just shocked that something I've been doing for over 30 years turns out to be potentially deadly.


The risk is quite real if you are not experienced at it. When I was a lifeguard, we had a rule against long underwater swims. The real danger is if you hyperventilate before you go under. Those few deep breaths blow off a bunch of carbon dioxide from your system. Since carbon dioxide is acidic it is high carbon dioxide that is real stimulus for your brain to make you breathe, not low oxygen. That way you are consuming lots of oxygen but still have a proportionally low carbon dioxide level. In this situation you run out of oxygen before you realize you're in trouble.

If you've been doing it that long you've got a pretty good conditioning effect going and have the experience to know your limits. Do it in a supervised swim and don't hyperventilate before you go under and you should be okay, though the possible benefits still escape me.

Some administrator please archive this thread. Scrapper
has again blessed us with his expertise and I would
sure hate to lose it, I'd like to be able to go back
and re-read it again several times.


I swim here and there. Here are some workouts.
a 1/2 hour swim, crawl. No stops at all at the wall. If you can flip turn...flip. All rythmical breathing. Breath one side then the other. Don't take a breath on the first stroke after the wall either.
Try 100 yrd. swims. Breathe every stroke on the first 100. Then every two the second hundred, then three until 12 if you can or more :) Then go back down in numbers. 1 min rests or so in between sets.
Try a 200 warm up, then 2 good paced 500yrd swims then cool down again with two hundred. Then 5-10 50yrd sprints. Then cool down 100 yrds whatever.
Try 5x200 yrd swims. all crawl. 10 push outs (body in water, lift yourself out up to waist then lower. repeat) add a progressive 5 until complete.
Think of swimming like running. Long for endourance ect.

Awesome stuff SCRAPPER.

I have done similar stuff, but the addition of the sweatsuit, the towels, etc makes this damn hardcore.

Did all Scrapper's contributions to this thread get deleted? - Koga!

All of SCRAPPER's contributions (prior to a certain time) in ALL of the saved threads are gone! It's like the burning of the library of Alexandria! Unfortunately, it seems nothing can be done about it...