When you think of getting into shape, the pool probably isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind (that honor probably goes to the gym). But just stop and think for a second – have you ever seen professional swimmers? They are all very lean and well-sculpted people. Let’s focus more on the details, see what makes this activity so special, what it has in store for you and how to perform the exercise to maximize the weight loss.
The main perk regarding swimming is that it takes place in the water, which, at first glance, maybe doesn’t sound that impressive, but believe us, it makes all the difference in the world. The water puts you in the weightless position, while at the same time providing you with a reasonable amount of resistance to work out with. While you’re trying to move, you are forced to engage arms, shoulders, glutes, core, and hips, but the environment still remains pleasant enough not to put too much pressure on your spine, hips, knees, and joints.
The Benefits of Swimming
Let’s start with the reason why we are all here – swimming burns a lot of calories. According to U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a vigorous half hour session will burn as much as 255 calories. Cut your daily calorie intake by 500, throw in a couple of swimming sessions throughout the week and you shouldn’t have problems achieving your fitness goals. Second, unlike biking and running, swimming provides a full-body exercise. Third, swimming trains your body to use oxygen more efficiently and as a result improves the health of your heart and your lungs.
Mixing the different strokes is very important, and not only for the reasons of sheer variety. Each of these techniques burns a different number of calories, engages different groups of muscles and represents different challenge – mixing them together is the key to maintaining the optimal heart rate. The three strokes that should be the foundation of your training are:
- Backstroke – Float on your back, look straight at the sky, keep your head in line with your spine and your limbs fluid, and start stroking with a flutter kick.
- Breaststroke – Extend the arms ahead of you, pull them beside you, glide until you start slowing, pull your hands in front again and perform a stroke.
- Butterfly – Probably the most difficult stroke in existence. To pull it off correctly, you will first need to master the dolphin kick.
Although it may look less exhausting than, for example, running, swimming can be a real killer, especially if you are just starting out. That is why the key to a successful swimming routine lies in splitting the session in short intervals. One way to do it is to swim the four lengths of the pool at an easy effort, give yourself a 30 second rest and then switch the tempo. The other, more favorable method is to switch the intensity after each lap and ditch pauses in the favor of more relaxed laps.
Finally, here are a couple of exercises that should help you to spice up your pool session:
- Double leg lift – Lean your back against the edge, lower your legs and then raise them as high as you can. Keep in mind, you’ll want your pool as clean as possible before trying this out, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to equip yourself with some pool cleaners.
- Jumping jacks – Just like the regular jacks but in the water.
- Bicep curls – You’ll need to find some water-resistant weights for this. However, the water will provide additional resistance in both directions and make the activity much more engaging.
- Cross knee to elbows–Stand in the pool, bring one elbow down to meet the opposite knee, switch the sides and repeat until you’re dead tired.