Swimming is a great form of exercise that will have you looking and feeling younger. Swimming also offers something that no other aerobic exercise does; the ability to give your body a hard workout without the harsh impact on your joints and skeletal system. While other forms of cardio such as running or biking can damage your knees or your back, swimming does not. When the human body is submerged in water, it becomes lighter. When immersed in water up to your neck, your body bears only 25 to 35% of its weight, the rest is handled by the pool.
Considering what little impact it has on your body, swimming is the perfect form of cardiovascular exercise. What’s even better is it burns a lot of calories. Swimming laps for one hour burns a very respectable 476 calories per hour. But don’t settle for just that. You can upgrade your water workout with just 5 simple steps.
1. Choose full body strokes: The more of your body you use with each stroke, the more calories you are going to burn. Choose a full body stroke next time you hit the pool for some laps. Both the butterfly and crawl stroke burn around 297 calories per half hour. The breast stroke burns slightly less, at 270 calories, and the backstroke even less at 216.
2. Keep your heart rate up: When swimming, try to keep your heart rate around 80% of your maximum heart rate for as much of the workout as you can. If you don’t know your target heart rate, subtract your age from 220 and multiply it by .8 for an estimate. To make sure that you’re staying in the desired heart rate zone, after every 10-15 laps pause for a moment and use the pool clock to count your pulse for only six seconds. Then add a zero to the number. If you are able to successfully swim at this pace, you can burn up to a whopping 680 calories per hour!
3. Isolate muscle groups: Do exercises to isolate different muscle groups while swimming, in order to really tone those areas. Use a kick board or a pool noodle and do fast-paced laps with just kicking, or even head to the deep end to tread water. By using only your legs to complete the movements you will tighten and tone your core, but and legs. You can also use a pool ankle band that holds your feet together so you can’t kick, and instead must use your body to propel forward, focusing on your arms, chest and back. This method will really help you develop upper body strength. Isolating muscles like this also causes you to exert a lot of energy in order to stay afloat, causing greater calorie burn.
4. Add Resistance: Adding resistance to your routine in the pool is like using dumbbells in the weight room. Use something like swimming paddles next time you swim your laps. The large surface area of the paddles increase resistance, causing you to work harder. They are the perfect way to build shoulder strength as well as lean muscles. The increased energy you will exert using them will also lead to more calorie burn.
5. Swim in intervals: Like you can interval train by sprinting with your running routine, you can also interval train in the pool. Picking up your swimming pace burns more calories, so incorporate speed intervals into your workout. You don’t need to speed through your entire workout in order to get the benefits of swimming at an increased pace. Try swimming one lap regular and two at a faster pace, or two regular and then two fast. Play with it to see what works best for you.
Use these 5 tips to take your pool workout up a notch…or even a few!