Olympic swimmer Kathleen Baker—who took home both gold and silver medals from the Rio games in 2016—spends hours in the pool, six days a week. But though the large majority of her training takes place underwater, the workouts that she does on dry land are just as important to her overall strength.
“You can’t just do one thing and expect to get better. If swimming were all it took to be an Olympic swimmer, there would probably be a lot more Olympians,” says Baker. “You have to do a lot more outside of the pool because it’s really good to build strength, power, and endurance while also using different muscle groups. With swimming, you have to use pretty much everything on you at all times, so when you’re able to isolate one group outside of the water, that’s sometimes better.”
Aside from the physical benefits of mixing things up, Baker notes that her non-swimming workouts are essential to her mental wellbeing. “Being in the pool and training is my job, and I love it, but at the same time that’s where I give my biggest effort and where it matters the most,” she says. “So when I’m able to take a step back and exercise and release endorphins outside of the pool, I think that’s really healthy for me.”
For those fun workouts, Baker turns to Peloton. “It’s so much easier to do things when people are motivating you to do them rather than just doing them by yourself,” she says. “I love getting on the bike because I can push myself on it, and I leave super sweaty and out of breath. It’s humbling—I train for two or three in the pool during some practices, but then do 30 minutes on the bike and I’m toast. It’s so hard!”
In addition to regular spin classes with Cody Rigsby (her favorite trainer), Baker also uses the Peloton app’s guided stretching and core-strengthening sessions. “When I’m prepping for a meet, I usually don’t get to bike anymore because it is tiring and I don’t need to break my body down as much, so that’s more when I switch to like the stretching and when I like to do core,” she says. “I think adding different things like yoga or Pilates or stretching really gives an advantage because everyone could do more of that whether they’re an athlete or not.”
This month, Baker has partnered with Peloton to curate a playlist of “stacked” classes to help users train like an Olympian. “I’m sharing my recommendations and what I like to do outside of the pool,” says Baker. “It’s a mix of cycling, stretching, and core strength.” And though you might be a long way away from competing against Baker in the 100-meter backstroke, you might be competing with her (and the rest of the U.S. National Team) on the leaderboard.
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