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Swimming as training for climbing?

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Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby PellucidWombat » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:49 pm

I've been getting serious about planning a more thoughtful workout routine with periodization and coordinated focuses on climbing technique, aerobic fitness, and muscular strength/power/endurance. Lately I've been poring books & articles on training, and NONE of them even mention swimming as an aerobic exercise to do. I never really see it discussed with climbing training at all.

These days I usually use swimming as my "outdoor" aerobic workout on rainy days in place of cycling or running. It's very intensive to swim hard for 1 hr straight, and works every muscle in the body, including motions from pulling transitioning to mantels. Of course the resistance is low, but the repetitions wear you down.

Does anyone have any thoughts on swimming for training? Am I best only using it as a 'backup' exercise? Should I do more in the gym (e.g. stairmaster) instead of swimming? Or should I consider phasing in more swimming during some parts of my training for total body awareness, coordination, and endurance?
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby PellucidWombat » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:52 pm

by the way, I swam competitively in high school and have good form, so I never consider swimming boring (those that do aren't watching their form!) and can always make it engaging and challenging for the muscle movements in addition to the endurance.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby radson » Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:55 pm

When my wife broke her foot, 4, months out from going to Nepal, swimming was her fall-back option. While we werent doing technical climbing, her swimming definitely seemed to maintain her overall endurance for high altitude trudging.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby DukeJH » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:03 pm

2009 was a horrendous injury year for me with a hip injury in february followed by a sprained ankle in July which I severely aggravated in August compunding it with a high ankle sprain. In November I was going to Mexico.

I swam. A lot. I'm not a trained swimmer but focused on my form incessently.

On the hill I felt good but not particularly strong. My aerobic capacity was excellent since my heart rate was down and O2 sat stayed up. The biggest thing I noticed was my legs just weren't ready. The swimming motion didn't prepare my legs for the motion of the hiking/climbing and I didn't feel they had the strength I really could've used.

BTW, I did summit both Ixta and Orizaba pretty much using only swimming as training so it can't be too bad.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby jordansahls » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:16 pm

Swimming can be a good workout, but It doesn't really translate all that well to the hills. It has been found that exercises performed lying down (such as swimming) don't stress your body to the extent of upright exercises. Basically blood returns more easily to your heart when you are lying down, this in turn makes it harder to increase your heart rate.

Sure swimming is a great way to get exercise, but it doesn't functionally represent any of the biomechanical needs of climbing/hiking/mountaineering. Running or using the stair stepper is going to be much more beneficial.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby LithiumMetalman » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:06 am

Swimming is great for swimming!

Climbing is great for climbing!

I think swimming is excellent for building a fitness base to train off to build/increase climbing strength and base, but specifically? No.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby Diver » Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:56 pm

for my Evereset North Col trip, i did hypoxic training in the pool 3 times a week for 4 months prior the expedition. basically i would swim about 2 miles breathing normally one pool length and holding my breath the other pool length.

for the "no breathing" part i was simply swimming under water first, but pool management didn't like it much and said it was a big liability for them due to shallow water blackout danger. so i simply switch to freestyle swimming with my face constantly in the water and that fixed the problem.

that with addition to running (and weight lifting) helped me a lot with high altitude. or at least i want to believe it did :)
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:55 pm

My wife was one of the top swimmers in the USA (bid to the Olympic Trials, swimming scholarship to Stanford, etc). I love her to death, but she is absolutely the worst mountain athlete I have ever met, and I used to be a guide so I have met a lot of wankers. So, take that for whatever it is worth.
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby dougunderwood » Sat Dec 18, 2010 9:14 am

Yes, doing other movement than whatever your primary cardio is gives you more balance, thus your primary exercise routine is better. I'm a better runner if I throw in a couple bike rides a week or be it swimming or whatever. The first time I summited Shasta I was so slow, almost moving backwards. Here comes this kid, vroommmm!! He was practically running. Decided next year that was going to be me. I found the marin headlands. I did about 3to4 hills at least once or twice a week, the last hill being the big one from the light house back to the bridge. I used an air restrictor towards the top putting myself into oxygen debt, over and over. The treadmill with multi super-sets incline squats then back on the treadmill. Plyometric jumps till you can't, then keep jogging. Duck walking, running in circles, backwords around every tree, sign etc. All that oxygen debt got me a resting heart rate in the thirties.Makes you super efficent with the O's.Next time on shasta vroommmm! RUN THEM HILLS come back for the swim to relax then eat. Just don't over do it?
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Re: Swimming as training for climbing?

Postby Diego Sahagún » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:17 pm

Practice swimming or whatever sport Pellucid. I don't think that any sport is bad for climbing...
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