Swimming is one of the most awesome low impact ways to torch fat, work the entire body and get fit. It’s an especially good way for women to improve our upper body strength. It’s brilliant for sculpting sexy shoulders and a beautiful back to be flaunted in this seasons’ new fashions like the off the shoulder trend.
Now that the weather is warming up, I’m keen to get back into the pool for some swimming workouts. Michelle and I have done our fair share of swimming training for triathlons. Swimming really is for everyone and is a great sport for people who are injury-prone. Michelle especially enjoyed swimming during her pregnancy. She managed to swim until two days before she gave birth. We both believe that four-year-old “Little”, at least in part, loves water because Mom was swimming so much when she was in her belly. She wriggled and kicked up a storm during our training sessions!
We love the positive physical results we experience from regular swimming sessions. We thought we’d share some of the routines we’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks to regain our swimming, and overall fitness.
Basically, all you need to get started is a swimsuit, swimming cap and goggles. Most gyms have some basic swimming training kit for you to use like kickboards and pullbuoys, which you’ll want for drills and to inject some variety into your workout. If they don’t, you can find all the gear you need at Sportsman’s Warehouse, Takealot.com or Finis.co.za. Here’s the basic kit (other than a swimsuit), that you’ll need for a more complete swimming workout.
Top left to right: Swim mesh bag to store all your swimming gear. The mesh is useful to allow wet gear to dry. Short blade training fins. Kickboard.
Bottom left to right: Pullbuoy. Swim training hand paddles. Swimming cap and goggles.
Training fins are great because they help to make your kick more effective and propel you forward with less effort. You’ll be able to do more lengths and work on your stroke before you’re exhausted. The hand paddles increase the resistance of the water which means your upper body has to work harder when you use them.
Now that you’re kitted out, it’s time to get in the water.
The key to an effective (and non-mind numbing) swimming workout is splitting it into shorter segments, using different strokes and drills, and changing the intensities of sets. Not only does it make it more interesting for you, but it’s also a more complete workout.
At first, you’ll be short of breath, but this will improve rapidly over the first two to three weeks. Feel free to take rests in between sets because your heart rate stays elevated for at least 30 seconds after a few laps.
The workouts below, are for a 20m length pool but work just as well for a 25m pool. Adjust as necessary if you’re in an Olympic sized (50m) pool.
To get you started
If you haven’t done much swimming training in a while (or ever), this easy, simple workout will help get you started and condition you for the workout programs below. Do this at least 2-3 times a week for 2 weeks, gradually increasing your distance from 500 metres to 1,000 metres, then move on to the beginner workout.
Now that you’ve done some conditioning and are a little more swimming fit, it’s time to start doing some higher intensity interval training to build cardio fitness and stamina in the pool.
A quick, calories torching interval workout
This workout is meant to be done at a moderate to high intensity to torch those calories. Even the kicking and the puling should be done at a higher intensity. One can add hand paddles (pictured above) to increase resistance and give your upper body an even more intense workout. Check with a doctor before using paddles if you have a shoulder injury though. You should be able to do this in about 30 minutes so it makes a great lunch time “express workout”.
These workouts are a guide which will hopefully encourage you to get into the pool. Feel free to mix it up and do what you’re comfortable with. But remember, to really enjoy the maximum benefits from your time in the pool, you should increase the intensity from time to time. You should also consider your technique.
WATCH YOUR FORM
The most important thing in swimming is to make sure you use correct technique. Michelle and I spent some time with a swimming coach at the gym to help correct any bad habits and poor form that had crept into our swimming strokes over the years. It’s well worth a couple of sessions especially if you plan on entering an open water race or triathlon. If that’s not for you, there are loads of resources on the internet. Here’s a video on “perfect freestyle technique” which will be helpful to get you started.