the story: i used to ride a lot. avg probably 5 40+ mile rides per week. i loved it. wish i could still do it. alas, i'm in my first year of grad school and just don't have the time. plus it's becomming pretty cold in ann arbor and i'm a wimp. so i've started swimming a lot b/c i can't run and the pool is close to my library. swimming certainly seems like a great aerobic workout (meaning i can make myself short of breath pretty easily). obviously it doesn't work the legs in the same way as biking does, but it certainly seems to work the lungs and the heart.
my question is: when i go back to riding a lot (may 11th; after my big exam; can't hardly wait), assuming i keep at the swimming pretty good til then, will i be in ok bike shape? obviously the legs will need a good shakedown, but do you think the swimming wil help? i won't be off the bike completely between now and then, but i havn't taken a long ride in the last 2 weeks and it doesn't look like that rate'll change much in the near future. i guess my general question is: is there much benefit to cross training in the winter? i know i won't be able to jump right back in and be where i left off, but i'm just curious what to expect. any thoughts or opinions would be much appreciated.
Swimming will definitely help to keep your cardiovascular up, but do keep in mind that you will probably lose some strength from riding just because you haven't been riding, so you haven't been able to train those muscles. But since you're in good shape, it shouldn't be more than a few weeks to get your fitness levels back to what it used to be on your bike as long as you stay consistent with your riding once you get back into the riding.
Cross training is great- as long as you continue to do both sports. You'll be able to recover from one activity while you train the other, which will be tremendous benefit to your body. Just make sure you're maintaining your level of intensity with your cycling and with your swimming. What I mean is, if you're working at 70- 85% heart rate max for your cycling one week, then go to swimming the next week, when you get back to cycling, make sure you're still doing the 70- 85% max heart rate for your cycling. You cannot let up on what you decide to be your training intensity at all.
You're definitely going to be a more well-rounded athlete from all this training you're doing! Good job.
Yea, What Koffee said. Might take a while to get specific again. but like the saying goes, if you want to get better at biking, ride alot. Swimming if done well, can really keep you in good cardio shape but without biking you will lose some speed. and of course, your tushy won't be ready for the 2+ hrs /ride right away anyway. You'll come back quickly though. Good luck with school.
Cross training is an excellent benefit for your body AND mind. To add to what the others have already truley said, it also gives your mind a break. Doing one specific thing day in and day out can burn the mind out. Even though you can be very fit and not overtrained body wise, your mind can be overtrained. Cross training takes the repetiveness out of your cycling training. Weight training seems to be among the common forms of cross training but swimming, skiing, snowboarding, etc. are also great forms of cardio training that will beneift your cycling. Just remeber to give your legs some bike time before going all out to where you once were before you started swimming.
Back when I jogged and biked, I found that the jogging helped my biking and vice versa. If I wanted to keep the max fitness for biking, I'd jog. It's far better than swimming for maintaining bone density too. Road cycling and swimming don't do enough for bone density.
I don't know how long you are swimming for - but I've been swiming for about 8 weeks (I'm up to 1hr sessions) as part of my training for an ironman next year. I have to say that swiming is the best overall workout I have ever done. The legs are worked out, but not as much as cycling. However - it would not take long to get them back if you keep the swimming up.
Well, exercise is very specific. One can be tremendous in one sport and rather ordinary in another. Michael Jordan was a tremendous professional basketball player and not even big league quality in baseball.
Swimming is mainly upper body. As such, it will not prepare you well for resuming bicycling. If you want to be in reasonable shape for bicycling, work out on a windtrainer (which is incredibly boring but if you can stand swimming I guess you can stand that too) or you might think of doing spin classes.
By the way, I am not trying to persuade you not to swim. Swimming is great exercise.