Active Recovery: Is Swimming Really Good?

How can I help my body recover? After intense physical exertion, it is best to pay attention to your diet, sleep / rest and hydration. But for some, passive recovery is not an option. They have a reserve of energy and want to find additional activities to keep their body and mind awake.

In this article, you will learn how to best recover with active recovery while maintaining a good quality of rest. As a national lifeguard and former athlete, I will explain how to integrate swimming as active recovery into your training cycles .

The Importance of Training Recovery

This is well known to all athletes: it is important to respect the recovery time in his training cycles. Good nutrition and adequate hydration are also factors that should not be overlooked.

But why include longer rest periods in your week? Just to help the body recover. Muscles are stressed, toxins build up in your body, and your risk of injury is higher.

But when you’re into sports, staying home one day and watching TV shows on Netflix is ​​tricky. We’re not always 100% educated, so it’s interesting to have an active recovery session.

Active-recovery: what is it?

After a session with high intensity, when the muscles are used intensively, active recovery allows oxygenation and promotes the elimination of toxins (including lactic acid) that accumulate in the muscles. This allows the body not to remain dormant and thus avoids pain .

Active recovery is effort at low intensity for moderate duration. This is mainly practiced at two key points:

  • Immediately after the effort. This is called “Scrub”. Some top athletes, for example, do 15 minutes of slow running / jogging followed by stretching after the competition. In this case, try not to exceed 35% of Vo2max and not to increase your heart rate. To find yourself, you must be able to speak. This is a session that will help you regain your calm after exercise.
  • In the following days . All athletes have weekends days when they are not practicing their favorite sport. This muscle recovery is key to staying effective.

In bodybuilding, active recovery is considered to be training with a load that is 30-50% of what is. usually – if you train for an hour, active recovery takes 20-30 minutes. If you are doing 80kg squats, use 25-40kg for a light session.

Advantages and disadvantages of active recovery


Thanks to increased blood circulation, weekend workouts help muscles quickly flush out toxins. Also, using light loads is a good opportunity to work on your exercise technique.

Another benefit of active recovery is that it provides muscles with the nutrients they need to grow. In other words, high repetition exercises will awaken the muscle ‘appetite’ and the muscles will consume more nutrients from the body.


The main disadvantage or even danger of active recovery is that many people simply cannot control themselves and end up doing a full, rather than twenty-year workout. minutes that will do more harm than good.

Remember that active recovery only works when you feel strong after a workout and less tired than before. training. Do not get tired during this training.

Swimming active recovery is a good idea?

Yes! Swimming is no doubt a sport where you want to integrate 1 or 2 active recovery activities per week.

But for this you need to be able to swim, it’s obvious! Swimming is a particularly technical sport, but it is also very enjoyable when you master the basic techniques. To start having fun in the pool, it is best to be able to swim for at least 2 strokes. Breaststroke is the first one we study, but not always recommended because it is very technical. The back is undoubtedly the easiest to learn to swim and is recommended for many back pathologies. Finally, the scan is the most popular because it is the fastest of 4 strokes.

Here are the main benefits of choosing active recovery swimming:

  • No joints requested . Swimming is the only sport where you are weightless (except for skydiving!). Swimming is said to be a worn out sport. The risk of injury is significantly reduced or even zero.
  • When you have the right aquatic environment, water can relax your muscles and worsen your condition. stress , this no longer needs to be demonstrated.
  • This sport improves breathing and heart rate .
  • Swimming allows you to build muscle.
  • Finally, it is ideal for improving the synchronization of your movements .

⇒ swimming thus, the sport is especially suited to active recovery work.

What sport does he swim with?

With everyone! As you may have read above, this is a sport that is not aggressive. Therefore, it allows the body to rest properly and without the risk of injury.

The advantage is that you will not only swim to relax and watch pretty girls (or pretty). swimmers) in swimsuits.

This physical activity can really help you progress in sports. This allows (among other things):

  • increase stamina . Swimming is often recommended during the recovery phase from competition or training in cycling, running (trail, marathon, athletics) and team sports. Swimming helps you move faster, regulates your breathing and therefore improves your overall endurance.
  • Build muscle. The lining of the abdominal girdle is essential for swimming. Therefore, it is likely that you will be able to tone the abdomen, buttocks, as well as the back muscles, bends and the whole body. For intense sports such as bodybuilding, but for everyone else, the benefits of good muscle no longer need to be demonstrated.

Therefore, all athletes are concerned and will benefit from moderate intensity swimming at least once a week!

Ideally, you should integrate your active recovery session after your high intensity workout. The purpose of an active session is to oxygenate and stimulate the exchange between muscles and blood. You have to do low intensity work, we are talking about fundamental endurance . During these sessions, the heart will work at a rate of 100/120 beats per minute.

Here are some tips I give my students to integrate swimming into their active recovery activities:

  • Warm up from 200 to 300 meters in his favorite swim.
  • Low intensity series from 500 to 800 meters for back promotion and crawling.
  • Technical swimming exercises.
  • Exercises for legs with mini fins.

Regardless of your sporting activity, you should always vary your exercise to avoid getting bored. Pleasure should always be at the center of the practice.

And you, do you practice swimming as an active recovery? Do you have any tips?

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