Monthly Archives: June 2012

Keys to a Great Swim Workout

It’s summer!  If you didn’t know already, the last few days have certainly proven it.  Exercising outdoors during the other three seasons is easy when compared to the heat and humidity of June, July and August.  That’s the problem with these nice, beach weather filled months: you’re hot before you even start.  The heat is bad enough, but toss in some famous East Coast humidity, and anything on the outer side of a door can be unbearable.  Good thing you learned all about the joys of swimming last week, and hopefully, you gave it a try.  Swimming is a wonderful way to prevent heat stroke, and after this, you’ll know how to get a fantastic workout from the pool.

  • Try different strokes.  You know the old cliché, different strokes for different folks, and it’s true.  Find the one that suits you best, where you are most comfortable, and do the bulk of your swimming there.  Try a few laps in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Sidestroke to get your comfort level up then start building up the laps.
  • Swim steady.  Keep a steady pace, hopefully there isn’t a race going on in the next lane, so you just stick to your own pace and power through the water.
  • Breathe.  Once you’ve chosen your stroke, practice breathing.  Get comfortable with your face in the water, and establish a rhythm for your breathing.  Exhale under the water, so when you turn up to breathe, your lungs are ready to go.  This prevents quick, shallow breathing that can occur when trying to both exhale and inhale on one turn of the head.  You can even try breathing on both sides to help keep your stroke even.
  • Mix it up.  That stroke you’ve decided you love?  Leave it on dry land for a day.  Working one or two other strokes challenges your muscles as well as your breathing pattern.
  • Freestyle is the most familiar, popular and easy to master stroke of the group.  Use it to warm-up to loosen up your body, and for getting in lots of laps, it’s the only choice.
  • Backstroke is great for recovery as well as stretching out the shoulders and chest.  As a bonus, breathing is exceedingly simple.  Put a little backstroke in your warm-up too, but also use it to cool down.
  • Breaststroke is tough, but is wonderful at keeping your legs flexible.  It stretches out all the big leg muscles as well as the groin and will help prevent cramping.
  • Sidestroke is relaxing, and like backstroke, makes breathing fairly simple.  Make sure you do this stroke on your left and right to keep strength, mobility, and motor skills equally strong on both sides of your body.

There are some great ideas for keeping busy in the pool, so go get wet!

Tips to Avoid Over Training

It’s summertime.  Everyone wants to be in shape for the season, but be careful.  Working too hard for results can cause problems.  Over training happens when the body is exercised at a frequency and intensity that exceed its recovery time.  The results from over training can include exhaustion, a loss of progress in both strength and cardiovascular fitness, and injury.  How can you tell if you’re over training?  If you’re hurt, take time off to recover fully.  Heading back into the gym the first day you feel 100% will lead to re-injury, longer required recovery time, and more frustration.  Feeling sluggish and fatigued rather than energized after a workout is your body telling you whatever you’ve been doing is too much.  Likewise, exercising improves sleep patterns, and if you’re having trouble sleeping, too much gym time could be the cause.

Solutions to over training are simple:

1)  Eat for energy.  Make sure diet isn’t the culprit and you’re getting enough carbohydrates to power your workout regimen.

2)  Mix it up.  Throw something new into your routine, cross-train while alternating hard and easy days.  Usually spend half an hour on the treadmill?  Jump in the pool or climb on a spin bike instead.

3)  Take rest days seriously.  Rest is just as important as exercise, and not giving your body enough time to recover from strenuous exercise will inevitably cause fatigue, moodiness, and injury.  Take at least one day a week away from the gym or running and be serious about it.  Use the rest day(s) to replenish the things your body has burned through, like carbohydrates, proteins and fluids.

4)  Listen to your body.  Still feeling sluggish four days after a hard workout?  Are your knees or shoulders hurting more than they should?  Is soreness sticking around after two days?  Is your performance slipping?  These are all signals your body gives to let you know it needs a break.  Take the time to recover your body is asking for, and you’ll not only feel better, but workout better too.