With the temperature on the rise, now is a better time than ever to introduce swimming to your weekly training routine.
It’s a well-known fact that swimming is one of – if not the – best forms of cardio training around. Not only does it work your heart and lungs, but it’s an effective full-body resistance workout too – and what better way to start (or finish) the day with a refreshing dip in your local pool!
If you’re new to swimming, start off with breaststroke as it’s often the most intuitive way of moving yourself through the water, and being able to keep your head above the surface at all times makes breathing easier. Focus on swimming for at least 30 minutes, taking one length at a time and resting as necessary. After a few sessions you should find you’re able to complete many more lengths in the same time. To make it more challenging either increase the duration of your session (45 mins then 60) or simply try and complete as many lengths as you can by taking shorter rest breaks.
Once you can comfortably swim for 30 minutes with only a few stops, it’s time to up the ante with some different strokes.
Whether you learnt to swim as a child or just picked it up later in life, if you can manage a basic front-crawl technique this is the most effective way to burn calories in the pool – the restrictive breathing will test and enhance your cardio capacity, and getting your arms out of the water provides a much more strenuous upper body workout.
Aim to swim for at least 45 minutes and cover 1.5km or more (60 lengths of a standard 25m pool). Instead of swimming continuously, mix it up by doing some shorter, faster sets of between 4 – 8 lengths for a more intense workout.
If swimming is your ‘go to’ sport, you’ll already know how great it is for keeping in shape, but consider these tips for maximizing your gains in the pool:
Learn a new stroke or work on improving your technique: It’s tempting to pick your favourite stroke to make your session easier, but try and challenge yourself with learning a new one, or improving your technique.
Practise what you’re weakest at: if you’re a distance swimmer who can plough up and down a pool all day, try some sprint sets (50’s, 100’s and 200’s) to give your body a shock. Sprint specialist? Do some strong distance sets (400’s and above) and build endurance.
Have a pre-swim gym workout: to really push your limits try working out in the gym before you swim. By fatiguing your muscle before you even hit the pool, you’ll burn more calories and force your body to fuel your muscles by breaking down carbs and turning them into energy.