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What are the effects, positive and negative of:

  • Swimming for 30-60 min immed. after weight training
    and/or
  • Walking briskly a few miles the day after weight training

I'm following Starting Strength, but don't want to give up my aerobic program. I'm especially confused about the nature of recovery: I know you need to recover, yet, at the same time, SS says "don't worry about training while sore". If my muscles are tired from the weights when I swim or walk, is that good, bad, or neither?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

When SS says "don't worry about training while sore", they mean "sore from two days ago when you were squatting and oh man it was heavy". They don't mean "go screw with your strength gains by doing something else". That said, if you're OK with sub-optimal strength gains, go ahead and do other stuff. That's your choice. For many people optimal strength gain does not trump all.

No swim

I would definitely consider that much swimming immediately after lifting to probably interfere with a lifting program. You should be tired after those squats. Tired enough to not want to go swimming. Tired enough for the swimming to take a bite out of your recovery from said squats. If you want to swim, do it on the off-days after lifting, and recognize that it will throw a wrench in your linear progression fairly quickly.

Yes walk

I consider walking on the off-days a great idea. It's recommended to keep active at a low level on rest days, and this is perfect. You get your joints lubed up, your blood pumping gently, but it's not timed or draining enough to conflict with recovery.

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I wouldn't swim on the off-days (otherwise known as recovery days), as that will kill progress very quickly. You can add it in once a week, at the end of your "week" (that is, when you have two rest days in a row); see [fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/5916/… question of mine) for some more info on combining SS with other sports. –  VPeric May 15 '12 at 16:10
    
"You should be tired after those squats. Tired enough to not want to go swimming. " Okay. But I'm not. Not yet. Perhaps I need to raise my weight higher. But I followed the SS program, of stopping the first day when my form, speed, or control suffered, and building up from there. I also do the sets slowly, with plenty of rest in between each set. And so, after the weights and a 10 minute rest while I change, I'm ready to go swimming. Not full speed, not sprinting, but still enough to go for a 30 minute swim. Is that bad? Isn't aerobic-after-strength the recommended order? –  S. Robert James May 15 '12 at 18:51
    
It's the right order, but it will dramatically impact your strength gains. Instead of trucking along for months, you'll stall in weeks. If you're OK with that, go ahead. –  Dave Liepmann May 15 '12 at 18:55
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