Bored of your usual interval workout? Keep things fresh, literally, by hopping in the pool. Known to help reduce belly fat, intervals can be practiced beyond the bike or treadmill. Although this swim workout has a little bit of everything, the middle portion includes a few short bursts where you play with stroke and speed. This workout is great for days in between lengthy endurance runs. And don't skip the always-important long warmdown to finish the workout.
There are tons of ways to burn more calories when running, but if swimming is your go-to form of cardio, here are ways to burn more calories in the pool.
- Choose full-body strokes: Both butterfly and the crawl stroke burn 297 calories per 30 minutes (based on a 130-pound woman). They burn slightly more than the breaststroke (270), and more still than the backstroke (216).
- Include speed intervals: Picking up the pace will burn more calories, so include speed intervals, say every third or fifth lap, where you're pushing harder than during the other laps.
- Isolate muscle groups: Grab a kickboard or a pool noodle and do fast-paced kicking laps, or head to deeper water to tread. Not only will making your lower body do all the work not only will tone your core, butt, and legs, but also, it's a heart-pumping way to amp the calorie burn. To target the upper body, use one of these ankle bands that holds your feet together, so instead of kicking, you have to use your arms to propel your body forward.
See more swimming tips after the break!
Now that you have 10 reasons to start swimming, it's time to jump in that pool! With Summer approaching, swimming is an optimal cardio workout as well as a great way to cross train for runners and cyclists. If you're just getting into the "swim" of things, begin with this beginner's swim, then take your shot at the workout below. To keep things fresh, it offers a little bit of everything — including all four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke).
Speed up the process to that Summer tan and bikini body by jumping into the pool. Yes, the treadmill is fun, and so are those dumbbells, but they only offer a portion of what a swim workout does. From toning your core to speeding up your metabolism, there are several reasons why you should consider swimming your new go-to. Grab a suit and find out the 10 reasons why you should start swimming!
- It's a total-body workout: Swimming tackles everything from sculpting your back to toning your arms — all without having to pick up a weight. Rather than needing a plan to work specific muscles, all four strokes work to strengthen your entire body.
- It's joint-friendly: If you're recovering from an injury and are eager to build strength, then look into starting a swimming routine to stay fit. If running is your passion, then swimming is a great way to work out on recovery days, allowing knees a rest from the pavement.
- It's muscle-lengthening: If you're worried about bulking up (which you shouldn't be), then consider swimming. Swimming combines resistance training with cardio, building lean muscle and boosting your metabolism. It also puts your body through a range of movements, helping your muscles stay long and flexible.
- It's helpful with exercise-induced asthma: Many swimmers first jump into the pool to relieve exercise-induced asthma. This is because swimming allows you to work out in moist air, reducing asthma symptoms. Because swimming requires some breath control, it also improves your overall lung and breathing capacity.
Although you may not feel yourself sweat while swimming, cooling down is key after a swim. Because swimming is a total-body workout, the body requires an increased demand for oxygen and the muscles work harder; a cooldown is essential to help the body recover. The next time you go for a swim, keep these tips in mind — your body will thank you!
- Slow it down: After an intense burst of cardio, it's important to slow down, allowing your body to relax and heart rate to return to normal. Although it doesn't have to be long, a few laps at a leisurely pace will suffice. Don't be afraid to switch up your strokes, alternating between freestyle and the ever-beneficial backstroke. This will help to stretch your entire body.
- Kick it out: To help give leg muscles an extra stretch, grab a kickboard and swim a few leisurely laps. This will lower your heart rate and give your arms a chance to rest.
- Master the drill: Since you're no longer worrying about beating the clock, a cooldown is the perfect opportunity to improve your technique. Drills are used to help you become more familiar with your stroke and make adjustments. There are a number of common swimming drills that you can try, but feel free to play around and create your own drills during cooldown.
- Stretch: As with any cooldown, stretching is essential! The cooldown period is prime for increasing flexibility since your muscles are warmed up. Use the wall (or the starting block) to stretch your calves, back, and shoulders. You can also grab a foam roller after your swim to relieve any post-workout tension.
If you think you can't have a swimsuit that's both active and stylish, think again! While your racer back is practical and your bikini is cute, we found options that merge the two for your fit lifestyle. From two-pieces with maximum support to one-pieces with adjustable straps, you can rest assured there won't be a slip. Click through to check out our favorite pieces to take your workouts to the water this Spring!
Tired of looking at the bottom of the pool in your swim workouts? Try backstroke! Adding backstroke to your workouts has several benefits that will help you in and out of the pool. Aside from being a great total-body exercise and calorie-burner, backstroke can be the perfect antidote to rounded shoulders or even back pain. If you're not convinced, consider these five reasons to flip from freestyle to backstroke the next time you head to the pool.
- Improves your posture: Backstroke is a great exercise to reverse the effects of time spent on the computer. Unlike most of our daily activities — or even other swimming strokes — backstroke helps open up chest muscles. Backstroke also strengthens the upper back and lats, pulling your shoulders back, which helps create better posture.
- Tightens your core: The key to backstroke is balance. Although all swim strokes strengthen the abs, the rhythm of backstroke engages your entire core through a slight hip rotation. In addition, the undulating movement from the kicks off of each wall, activates both your lower back and core.
- Can be used as cross-training for runners: If you're a runner, swimming is a low-impact way to cross train between runs. Backstroke kicks engage the muscles in your legs and glutes for a complete lower-body workout; further challenged by the resistance of the water.
- Complements freestyle: As with every exercise routine, balance is key. Freestyle is often favored by many swimmers and is the first stroke taught to beginners. Mix up your workouts and improve your freestyle by incorporating a few laps of backstroke into your regime. Freestyle and backstroke are perfect complements to each other, working opposite muscle groups. Consider alternating strokes between laps or using backstroke to cool down with.
- Will improve your weight-room workout: When you're not rocking it out in the weight room, use backstroke as a way to straighten your arms and shoulders. Once your fingers enter the water to begin your catch, your biceps must bend against the resistance of the water to finish each stroke. Although your biceps and lats are in the greatest demand during the catch, your triceps and lats will benefit as well.
Despite its name, circle swimming is not as literal (or dizzying) as it sounds. Rather, it's the simple swimming pattern adopted by you and your fellow swimmers to make the most of a pool workout when sharing a lane!
To practice correct circle-swimming etiquette, keep an eye out for the direction your lane mates are swimming — either clockwise or counterclockwise — before you enter the pool. Make sure to swim in the same direction (and along the side of the lane) to prevent confusion and collision. If you're the first in the water, you set the scene — we all have our favorite sides! Worried about passing? Since a pattern is already established, just go around the person in front of you or pass at the wall!
If swimming has recently become new to your workout routine and you're still a little unfamiliar with many of the terms —like referring to freestyle as the "front crawl" — we'll help you uncover the mystery of the water, so you can feel like a pro in no time! Like our 10 beginner's running tips, here are 10 common terms every beginner swimmer should know:
Circle Swimming: Since many of us don't train alone and pool space is often limited, swimmers must follow a pattern while sharing a lane to prevent colliding and maximize workouts. When you circle swim, you usually swim counter clockwise in the lane, swimming up one side of the black line and down the other. This is not an official rule, so it is common courtesy to swim in the direction of your lane mate if they are there before you.
Catch: This is the front part of your stroke that involves your arms and hands. Think of it as catching the water to propel yourself forward, using your kick to help.
Drafting: Like runners, you can draft in the pool. Although your competitors won't be happy when they figure out your plan, drafting can often help you swim faster. Essentially, it is riding the wave of the person next to you. Keep in mind, once you pass a competitor, they can do they exact same thing to you!
It might be the first stroke you learn as a child, but the crawl is complicated. While mastering freestyle might take hours upon hours in the pool, playing around with simple swimming drills, rather than aimlessly swimming lap after lap, can help you improve your stroke. Ross Haverlah, the swim coach at Equinox in San Francisco, suggests adding the closed-fist exercise to your warmup. "Without your hands pulling through the water, you become aware of how much your forearm participates in the pull of your stroke." Swimming with a fist might feel difficult at first, but the challenge will pay off in the long run.
After warming up with 100 yards of swimming at an easy pace, swim the length of the pool with your hands in tight fists; it will feel utterly graceless and a bit like you're punching the water. Make sure to keep your hand in a closed fist to truly reduce the effectiveness of the hand sculling the water; focus on the power of the forearm pulling through the water. Return to swimming with an open hand for one length of the pool. Repeat this sequence three more times.
Incorporating more of your arm as you catch the water adds power to your stroke and helps you swim more efficiently. This means you can cover a larger distance in less time, a win-win.
Incorporate this drill into your next pool workout and see if helps you feel the water more.