Swim Your Way to Less Body Fat

Are you looking to get in better shape? There are so many options when it comes to working out which should you choose? Is it going to be Pilates, Weight Training, Biking, and Yoga? I could write an entire article just listing the different types of exercise you can do. How about focusing on just being well rounded with your training? Personally, I want to be able to do it all. Well, it’s that time of the year when the sweaters are put into the closet and bathing suits go on! Why not adapt your training to the time of year we are in?     The ability to build a toned, lean body while training your cardiovascular system? I’m sold! Let’s dive in headfirst and break down a few different swimming techniques. We’ll get into how to attain a total body workout without even having to jump on a treadmill or pick up a single weight.

I would like to emphasize three swimming strokes: breast stroke, freestyle and the butterfly. (I am excluding backstroke as to avoid death threats due to readers cracking their heads on the wall in the pool or contact with another swimmer). 🙂 One quick thing: You are training almost every muscle with each swimming style. The reason some are more difficult than others are due to the level of emphasis placed on each muscle. For example, all the strokes involve the legs, but freestyle might involve more frequent kicking, which is partially the reason why it’s the fastest.

Freestyle

This one’s my favorite because the swimmer is moving the fastest. The muscles trained are lats, delts, pecs, anterior seratus, hips, hamstrings, quads, triceps, glutes, bicep, traps, and the upper and lower abs as well as calves. I would prefer a combination of interval training as well as some steady state swimming thrown in. Work off a 2-1 ratio, which means for every two days of interval training, throw in one easy steady state swim. For example, on days one and two, do two lap sprints at about 80-85% intensity. Then rest one to two minutes depending on your fitness level. Repeat between 5-10 times.   On day three, try to complete straight laps at a lower intensity. This would mean a steady state pace where you complete, say, 20 laps in the pool. Of course all of our fitness levels are different, so the numbers will adjust according to the individual.

Breaststroke

The breaststroke is the most popular recreation style and also the slowest. It is done with the chest always facing front; there is no hip rotation.   This stroke is one of the best ways to exercise the leg muscles with heavy emphasize on the inner and outer thighs, calves and triceps. Remember you are still working every area of the body; legs are just emphasized. We are going to focus only on interval training with the breaststroke. Let’s begin with 2-4 lap intervals, which can be mixed up day to day. For example, on day one perform five 2-lap intervals with only one-minute rest in between each set. Day two, try for four laps with two minutes rest. Try for five total intervals. Remember the intervals should be done with increasing intensity, but never jeopardize technique.

Butterfly or fly

The newest of all the styles being performed in competition, this is by far the most difficult of all the strokes. The body is performing a wave like motion where both arms and body are propelling out of the water. Unlike the other strokes it is very difficult to overcome poor technique with the fly.

Heavy emphasis is placed on the shoulders, legs, back, abdominals, biceps, and triceps, as well as an extreme emphasis on the cardiovascular system. Considering the complexity of this stroke, I recommend shorter intervals here. Anything longer than one lap in the beginning will compromise technique. Begin with a one lap on, one minute off interval. Perform five sets of these.

This should give you some great variety on training the entire body. You can do each stroke on a different day or mix and match them. Have fun with it. For example, on day one you can train freestyle, day two-breast stroke, and day three butterfly. Or you can cut the sets down and do three intervals of butterfly immediately into three intervals of breaststroke concluding with three of freestyle. Try and always train what you’re not good at first. This is what we do not do enough of in fitness. People only want to do what they’re good at. Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Swim ya later!


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