When you’re planning your New Year’s exercise routine, swimming probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But, it’s actually preferable to all those hours spent at the gym. It affects more muscle groups at once and it’s far less repetitive, and therefore much more fun. It’s also an exercise from which both experts and amateurs can benefit, depending on the kind of technique and regimen you opt for.
Benefits of water
Water is around 800 times denser than air, which makes every move you make 800 harder than it would be outside the pool. This especially works on core muscles, hips, arms, shoulders, and glutes. An easy swim will help you burn 500 calories an hour, while a more strenuous one can burn as high as 700. The added benefit is that despite all this effort, water related exercises are actually much easier on the joints than you would expect. This means you can swim every day, without worrying about potential injuries.
Combined with a sensible diet, swimming is a pretty straightforward way to lose weight. If you do it on a regular basis, you are bound to see the results. Start by swimming for 60 seconds and then resting for 60 seconds. As this gets easier swim longer and rest less frequently. Your goal should be to advance to 60 minutes of swimming a day or 20 laps without stopping. With 4 to 6 days a week of this kind of exercise - you should start losing significant weight. Also, try sprinting for two laps and then swimming slowly. This will keep your heart rate elevated and help you lose weight faster.
Different swimming techniques help with different muscles groups, but freestyle swimming would be a perfectly fine exercise for an amateur. Butterfly stroke will help you burn the most calories as it is the hardest style to master, so it will burn around 150 calories in ten minutes. The breaststroke is the second-best option. It is the slowest of all the competitive techniques, but it burns almost as many calories as the butterfly, because it requires the swimmer to power through water. This way you use your large leg muscles the most, which requires a lot of energy.
Once you decide on a technique and the desired effect of your training – you should really get into it and start adding more length to your daily swim. Investing in swimming pool is a good idea if you want to take the training really seriously and have a fun addition to your backyard as a bonus. Swimming 10 lengths of a 50 meter pool each day is a good place to start, just remember to make 45 – 50 seconds pauses between each lap. Add 200 meters each week. After a couple of months – try to swim 200 meters in one take and stretch out for a couple of minutes. Alternatively, you can swim 100 meters and do 20 push-ups during the break.
There’s no reason to make drastic changes to your diet, during this training. Normal, well balanced diet is completely ok. Try to increase your protein intake (two grams per kilogram of weight). Poultry, fish and other seafood are a good choice. Soy products, as well as nuts and seeds contain a lot of protein as well. Carbohydrates found in fruit, vegetables and grains will help you maximize your performance.
Swimming is an underappreciated form of exercise. It’s fun and easy to learn and it can have a better effect on body fat loss than other, more conventional workouts. Be persistent and the results will follow.