Can Swimming Help Boost Your Squash?

29th December 2021

While specificity in your training is a key principle of progression, incorporating some cross-training into your programme can provide some welcome variety to help replenish both body and mind. Swimming is one such modality of cross-training that can actually provide a surprising benefit to squash players.

One of the main advantages of swimming is that it has essentially zero impact – unlike other activities such as running, skipping, ghosting etc. This makes it especially useful for athletes returning from injury, or who are trying to protect aching joints.

Swimming also provides the benefit of an excellent stimulus across a wide range of muscles throughout the entire body, from glutes and hips for kicking, shoulders and arms for your strokes, and core for stabilising during the rotational and turning movements. This core work in particular, is a huge plus for swimming as an exercise – having a strong core is key for squash players, in respect to maintaining posture and stabilizing the hips through the on-court sprinting and lunging actions.

Developing better breathing technique is another factor to consider for those considering adding in some swimming to their training programme, which can provide further benefits in the longer term. Competitive swimmers typically demonstrate excellent breath control, and this will be of help in any athletic activity.

One obvious limitation with swimming of course, is the requirement for a certain level of technical proficiency – not everyone is confident or capable in the pool. That said however, you can actually still get a decent workout even if you’re not very good at it – novice swimmers will tend to make less efficient movements which require a lot more effort, in contrast to more advanced swimmers who use more economic strokes and conserve energy by gliding and rotating with greater efficiency – both can provide good workouts if volume/intensity parameters are adjusted accordingly. Safety should of course remain paramount though, so don’t attempt a swimming workout if you have any serious doubts over your capability.


Here are 3 great swim workouts you can try, tailored to match the demands of the game of squash:



Start with 8 lengths steady pace warm-up, then go into x6 2 length sprints on a 2min turnover – so you’ll start the clock ahead of your first 2 length sprint and then leave it running, going into each subsequent 2 length sprint on 2mins, 4mins, 6mins etc. The faster you complete the 2 lengths, the more rest you get.
You can make the session more challenging by taking a 2min rest upon completion of the x6 2 length sprints, and then repeating through for a second set.



Start with 8 lengths steady pace warm-up, then work 1 length at max pace. Take 15secs recovery, then repeat through again until you have completed 10 x 1 length sprints in total. Complete 2 sets through of the x10 sprints, with 2mins rest between.
You can increase the difficulty of the session by adding in an additional third set.



Start with 8 lengths easy pace warm-up, then go into pyramid intervals.

  • x1 length (15secs rest)
  • x2 lengths (30secs rest)
  • x4 lengths (60secs rest)
  • x6 lengths (90secs rest)
  • x6 lengths (90secs rest)
  • x4 lengths (60secs rest)
  • x2 lengths (30secs rest)
  • x1 length

Complete each set at the fastest pace possible. Record your times, and monitor improvements.
To make the session even tougher, you can take a 2mins rest after completing the pyramid and then repeat through a second time.


Gary Nisbet

B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director

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