Swimming is a fantastic cross training exercise for all endurance athletes, from rowers to runners. It uses nearly every major muscle group, is low-impact and moves your muscles through a dynamic range of motion to increase flexibility and help prevent injury. We all know from experience that the cardio component can be right up there with your favorite sport. So grab your goggles and jump in a pool with these three tips to a more efficient swimming workout.
If you are a seasoned swimmer then get after it with the workout below. Not feeling like Phelps? Well, be brave, jump-in (literally) and start with these tips to build your swimming skills, confidence and eventually, your fitness.
1. Aim for long steady strokes, keeping the body stretched out in a horizontal position. Really reach in opposite directions with the fingertips and toes. To help with this, keep the eyes looking down at the bottom when not breathing to the side. Look towards the wall only towards the end of the length.
2. Keep the kick a nice steady flutter and be sure to originate the power from the hip, not just by bending at the knee. You will find your own rhythm with the kick. The key is to not go for a big splash, but rather a consistent firm thrust.
3. Less is more. Count how many strokes it takes you to get to the other end of the pool. Then aim to drop that stroke count each length until you get to the ideal number of somewhere between 18-22 strokes for each length. To do this focus on the above tips as well as on taking long, strong strokes to allow the body to glide through the water efficiently.
The Swimming Workout
Warm-Up: 400 meters (or yards depending on pool) Freestyle, Easy with focus on technique (again, use the tips above). Depending on ability and fitness level, break this distance into what works for you.
4 x 100m (meters) Freestyle, Medium (challenging, but do-able). Take 60 sec. rest in between each 100m. Repeat until done with all four.
Break 60-90 sec.
4 x 100m Freestyle, Hard (challenging and uncomfortable). Take 45 sec. rest
in between each 100m.
Break 60-90 sec.
4 x 50m Freestyle, Sprint with 30 sec. rest in between each 50m.
Cool Down: Swim 200m Freestyle or Stroke of choice, Easy. Find the flow and focus on good form.