Do your strength training first and then go swimming. Or is it the other way around? Does it matter in which order you do them, or is it irrelevant in terms of your training success?

Is there a magic ratio of weight training to swimming that should be done? Does swimming before a dryland session destroy your strength gains?

Which order is the best recipe for results?

It all depends on your training goal. Before we dive into that, here are the pros and cons for either order:

Swimming First:

Swimming before a lift is great because it gives you the opportunity to burn more calories over the course of the weight training session by elevating your heart rate initially. This increases your internal temperature and elevates the metabolic demands placed on your body.

Related: MySwimPro – The #1 Dryland App for Swimmers


This ensures your heart rate will remain elevated, and thus increasing overall caloric burn for the entire workout. The downside is that you’ll be more tired after swimming, and won’t have as much energy to spend on resistance training, which is better for making lasting physique changes.

Related: 10 Health Benefits of Swimming

Weight Training First:

Since the aerobic system is much more efficient in terms of generating ATP, weight training first is great because it allows you to get to the fat burning portion of the workout faster than if you had gone swimming first.

Focusing the majority of your energy on making improvements in the weight room will result in better strength gains. After all the glycogen is depleted in the gym, swimming will result in a much higher percentage of fat burn.

Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Swim

The downside to this technique is that it can be difficult to work hard at resistance training, and then push yourself through a swimming session immediately after. Not to mention you might struggle to lift your arms out of the water and your legs will feel like jelly when you push off the wall.

So which is better? It depends on your goal!

Try these dryland exercises for swimmers:

To Build Muscle and Maximize Strength:

If your goal is to build muscle and increase your maximum strength, then you should definitely do your strength session before swimming. You shouldn’t attempt a strength building workout when your muscles are already fatigued. You can’t work out at the intensity necessary to provide an ideal training stimulus.


Since sometimes you will be lifting heavy weights, overly fatigued muscles will increase your risk of injury. If you tire your muscles out ahead of time, your coordination will suffer and your stabilizing muscles will be weakened.

Related: A Beginners Guide To Strength Training

Watch our video on how to swim faster:

To Improve Swimming Endurance:

If your goal is to improve your swimming endurance, then go for your swim before strength training. To produce an effective training stimulus, your muscles should be rested before long or intense swimming workouts.

Related: 4 Reasons Swimmers Should Lift Weights


Tired muscles prior to swimming negatively impact your technique and efficiency in the water. This can then lead to strain and overuse injuries in your joints and muscles.

Check out our tips for how to swim perfect freestyle:

To Lose Weight:

It is often recommended to do your strength training before your swim to empty your carbohydrate stores. The idea is to force your body to get its energy primarily from fat rather than carbs during your swim. However, the problem with this strategy is that you can’t finish a long swim workout at high intensity on empty carbohydrate stores.

While it is true that a much higher percentage of fat is burned for energy, the calorie burn, on the other hand, is relatively low because of the low intensity of the workout.

If you are looking to lose weight, a negative energy balance is key: If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. In the end, what matters is how many calories you burn in total through your workout. Spread your workouts out over several days. That way you can train at high intensity and burn a lot of calories, while giving your body the time it needs to recover properly before the next workout.

Related: 5 Ways To Burn More Calories When You Swim

Bottom line: In general, you should not do two workouts back-to-back in the same day. You will achieve better results in both your strength and swim training if you give your body sufficient time to recover. If you want to combine your strength and endurance training, then you should follow the order best suited for your specific training goal.

For more tips like this, follow MySwimPro on YouTube!

Looking for swimming and dryland workouts? Download the MySwimPro app on and start your free, 30-day trial of our ELITE COACH subscription to start your personalized training plan.

30 day trial

16 thoughts on “Should I Lift Weights Before or After I Swim?

  1. I’m struggling to find right balance. I swim 3x week hard core. I’ve been resistance training on off days but they fall on day before my swims and I’m pooped! I’m considering trying to do my dry land same day as swim?? What should I be doing in gym? My goal is to improve my swim and build muscle.

    1. Hi Terri, as this blog post mentions, you can do dryland on swim days, but it’s important to figure out if it’s best for you to do dryland before or after swimming. It may also make sense to dial back your yardage on days that you swim and do dryland to avoid injury and overtraining.

      As for what you should be doing in the gym, this blog has some great tips. Generally, you should try to incorporate a squat, hinge, reach and pull movement, along with some core work:

  2. Is it ok to swim in the morning then lift weights then swim again in the afternoon? Planning to do it 3x a week and and the other days as swimming only

  3. Thank you all for your good advice. I thought if I worked out with weights first then went swimming I would lose. My muscle building!I am 67. Any comments?

  4. A dip in the cool waters of the swimming pool is on the must-do list of most of us. We know you would rather swim in the pool than do any other workout. But do you know you can enhance your workout efforts several notches higher if you workout against the resistance of water? Yeah, that’s right, try the effective swimming pool workouts to lose body fat and watch the pounds just melt away. And working out in the water is so much fun and yes, less exhausting too!

    1. My swimming workouts are usually coached and hard core. It’s the way you swim which makes it feel easy. Walking at a low to moderate pace is easier than running. Same thing goes for swimming. It’s not billiards. Just a little bit of athletic input, but I do agree with you that swimming is more fun. Happy swimming 🏊‍♀️ !

  5. What reps and sets would be normal for a competitive breaststroke swimmer doing dry-land training which includes back squats, chin-ups, bench-press and Russian twists?

  6. I’m surprised no one has addressed the muscle tightness factor of weight training before swimming. Personally, I NEVER weight train before swimming. I always do it after or on a separate day. The reason is exclusively limited to the feeling of looseness and flexibility one needs for effective stroke technique. Swimming is about using your body effectively in the water to be long, loose, flexible, and get glide as you recover and pull against the water. Being tight in your muscles is going to shorten your glide and lead to poor stroke technique. I just do not see how one can get a quality swim workout if you have lifted weights first. You are going to be too tight, and your stroke technique will not be as good, your glide less, and it will lead to more strokes per pool length traveled.

  7. It’s probably obvious, but it can vary by the type of each workout too.

    I like to lift after I swim even though I’m a sprinter, as I’m trying to develop better technique right now.

    It’s tough to hit power lifting hard after a sprint session in the pool, so I usually like to pair those days with aerobic-based lifting (and vice-versa).

    Having some nice results with that philosophy/combo recently so thought I would share.

Leave a Reply