Waiting between weight lifting and aerobics?
July 28, 2005 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Strength training and aerobics: how much rest do I need after strength training and before aerobic exercise (swimming)?

My goal is ultimately to work off a bit of a gut I've developed as of late. I'd like to add swiming into my current regiment of 30 min bike commuting (daily or so) and strength training once a week. I am using the 'super slow-motion' weight training, "lift to muscle failure". How much rest do I need between strength training and swimming? What's the general rule of thumb for mixing weights and aerobics?
posted by daver to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Allow at least 1 day of rest when you exercise a muscle group, 2 days if you are doing extremely strenuous routines. So if you want to lift more frequently, just come up with a 2- or 3-day cycle that works different muscle groups each time.

I've never been a swimmer, but my experience with running is that, after a little while you can basically do it every day with no ill effects. Swimming is more of a full body workout, especially upper body. It might require a day off too, I'm not too sure.

Personally, I listen to my body. If I'm sore the day after a workout, whether it's basketball, running, or weights, I leave the sore muscles alone for the day. After all, it's the rest period where muscle growth actually occurs.
posted by knave at 12:41 AM on July 29, 2005

There are basically two different camps on this.

The first states that you should do cardio after a weights workout, in order to burn off acid that may have formed on your muscle during the lifting routine.

The other is that you should split cardio and weights into seperate days.

I'm more of the former myself, doing cardio all the time. But I'm not a bulky huge muscle-type. But I doubt that is what you want if you're swimming.

I would say do some light cardio first after the weights workout, maybe 5-10 minutes of treadmill, bike, or eliptical, and then hit the pool. But don't do the pool as much on days you do weights than days you don't do weights. You don't want to overtax your body.
posted by benjh at 5:12 AM on July 29, 2005

I've been doing a super-slo-mo workout for a couple of years, and in general I take off the day after my lift, then resume my cardio (running/elliptical/bike). I've read that as fairly common in the slo-mo "literature" I've read -- same rationale as knave points out.

If you do want to do something active the day after your lift, definitely do something far less strenuous than your usual cardio. In my case, it's deep knee bends while horizontal on the couch and the remote in my hand. I deserve that day off after a slo-mo lift day. Those workouts suck!
posted by johndavi at 5:12 AM on July 29, 2005

You don't need any time off moving from lifting to swimming if you take it pretty easy in the pool since your muscles are tired. What you may need to take into account is that the muscles you thrashed in the weight room will take longer to fully recover between weight lifting sessions, but that isn't really an issue if you're just lifting once a week.
posted by OmieWise at 6:18 AM on July 29, 2005

yeah, i do something similar to what you are describing. I would just echo OmieWise in saying that if you do lifting and then swim, its fine, but it will limit your enery and focus while swimming. If you're just starting swimming, i would recommend dedicating your entire workout to that, as it is really exhausting, esp. at first.
posted by alkupe at 6:42 AM on July 29, 2005

There's no need to take any time off after lifting. Sometimes it can't be avoided, life being what it is. I lift upper-body right before I swim, twice a week, with no ill effects. On the other days I bike and run and take one day off a week. In winter I also lift legs because I stop biking. You'll be fine doing whatever works -- better to get this stuff into your schedule than not do it at all. Here's what you need to think about:

1. Lift first, then aerobic activity. This is not about lactic acid, because a long aerobic workout can cause a buildup of lactic acid just as easily as lifting. Instead, it's about form. Lifting weights is only worth it if you use exacting, efficient form. It's much harder to maintain a decent form if your large muscle groups are tired from aerobic exercise. And bad form results in a waste of energy, reduced effect of the workout, and strain/injury. Pay attention to form! Every day in the gym I see people just ruining themselves and wasting their time with ridiculously bad lifting.

2. Your swim performance immediately afterward will not be as good as it would when swimming fresh. However, if you're just beginning to swim as a workout, you should be spending the bulk of your time on technique, not speed, and you can work on technique even with tired arms. I recommend Total Immersion Swimming -- amazing, quick results from careful stroke analysis.

3. You do want to wait at least a day, preferably two, between lifting sessions. But you can mix lifting and aerobics with no major detriment to either. Lift smart. Use lighter weights for more reps == that's how you create definition without bulk, anyway. Don't do the same routine each time; come up with a training plan which will keep your muscles challenged but constantly adapting.
posted by Miko at 11:43 AM on July 29, 2005

Er, that'd be Total Immersion Swimming.
posted by Miko at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2005

Oops -- only now did I notice you're doing work-to-failure. That doesn't blend well with aerobics - and it's designed to result in maximum bulk, which you may not want. If you have a propensity for weight gain, adding extra bulk may come back to bite you if you slack off again later in life. Lighter weights, more reps will work much better.
posted by Miko at 11:46 AM on July 29, 2005

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