Swimming is one of the best cardio vascular exercises you can do. You will increase your lung capacity and the ability of your heart to pump blood around your body, even if you swim once a week. If you are able to swim for about 20 minutes without stopping, whilst maintaining a constant speed and rhythm, swimming becomes an aerobic exercise. This will mean that your help your body improve its general fitness. Not only that, but an aerobic work out will stimulate your metabolism and help you to burn off excessive fat.
Just one hour’s exercise in the pool will use up about 500 calories, for the average adult. In addition, it can help with normalising blood pressure and pulse rates. Improved breathing, even among asthma sufferers, is a well documented benefit of choosing swimming as a preferred form of exercise.
The problem with swimming is that as you get fitter from the exercise so your ability to improve will become ever harder. Even without the watchful eye of a swim coach, your swimming technique will improve. Swimmers’ ability to keep going can make great strides in just half a dozen sessions. If you only have limited time for a work out, improving means you can feel you are not maximising the time available. But don’t give up, because the solution is to switch from your preferred stroke.
Basic Breaststroke is the most popular stroke for swimmers who are primarily using a pool session to improve their fitness levels. Done at a basic level, it is the easiest of the conventional strokes to master and one of its benefits is that it can be swum with a slow stroke rate. As swimmers naturally improve with the stroke so they tend to lie flatter in the water. This makes each stroke more efficient, which has the unintended consequence that those who prefer breaststroke get less exercise per stroke.
The obvious answer is to push harder and correct your technique to take on a more advanced level of Breaststroke that is used competitively, this means improving your technique and strength to become more lean and streamlined. Alternatively, swimmers can increase their target number of lengths. If this is not practical, it is time to move on to another stroke.
A good progression from breaststroke is freestyle, or front crawl. Introduce one length in four as crawl from a regular pool session of breaststroke. Swimmers who do this will immediately feel the extra work rate on their heart and lungs. With freestyle, the arms rotate and the legs kick up and down, putting additional strain on the muscles.
This means the benefit of exercising in the pool continue, rather than plateau. When crawling, the head is place face down in the water. Whilst adjusting to the new stroke, turn your head to the side every two to four arm rotations to take a new breath. When exhaling, breathe in a measured way right up until the point where you will draw your next breath.
This means exhale in the water as you’re about to come up for a new breath. Over several sessions, all swimmers will improve. Take breaths less frequently when using freestyle, to keep improving lung capacity. Use less and less breaststroke until you have entirely progressed to crawling.
Once swimmers have mastered freestyle, they have hit another plateau of improving their fitness. At this point introduce another new stroke. Butterfly is good, but it is technically difficult, so a preferred option is backstroke. Though backstroke is less intense on your heart and lungs than freestyle it will work different muscles in the upper body.
Backstroke will work your outer abdominal muscles as you keep your body as flat in the water as possible. The ideal backstroke has the swimmer using an alternating kick, with a slightly bent knee, to keep going in the right direction. The rotational movement of the arms provides most of the forward propulsion. Once mastered, swimmers can always return to the breaststroke and repeat the cycle of improvement.
Author: This post was supplied on behalf of Simply Swim, online swimwear and equipment store, based in the UK. Check out their blog for up to date advice and news in the swimming world.