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!

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