Did you know that there are 30 million fitness swimmers in the United States? Or that an hour of vigorous swimming can burn as many as 660 calories – roughly as much as jogging at 6 miles per hour? Experts say that as little as three hours per week swimming – one hour a day, three times per week – will bring dramatic improvements in conditioning, muscular strength and flexibility if you sustain it for several months. Most fitness swimmers also find this practice incredibly relaxing and even meditative, so it’s great for starting off your day on the right foot! What do you need to know if you want to start a swimming for fitness program?
1. It’s Important to Start with a Warm-Up
Even though swimming is fabulous and low-impact, it’s always a good idea to start your workouts with a warm-up. Swimming coaches and class instructors recommend to start with around 10 minutes of bobbing and stretching exercises in the pool.
2. An Instructor can Make a Huge Difference
Most of us who swim for fitness aren’t trying to earn Olympic medals or master a certain swimming technique, so an instructor may seem like overkill. It’s not! An instructor can help you learn breathing techniques and improve your stroke so you’re working out most efficiently. If you’re wasting your effort, your workouts won’t be as effective, so consider starting with an instructor until you’re reasonably skilled and ready to strike out on your own. Lots of pools offer group classes which can be a nice way to save cash if you want to start swimming, but don’t want to pay for one-on-one classes.
3. Start Slowly
Just because swimming is low-impact doesn’t mean you can start out swimming an hour a day! Expert instructors and coaches recommend that beginners start with a 10-minute workout. Build up to a 30-minute workout, three to five times per week. If you’re really a novice, you might want to try practice drills with a kickboard, or even walking or jogging the length of the pool before you ever start swimming. Once you improve your technique and build up your endurance, you can get to that hour mark and realize maximum efficiency from your swimming workouts!
4. Challenge Yourself
Once you’ve got a good basic grasp of technique, it’s important to challenge yourself. If you don’t push hard at all during the workout, it’s basically the equivalent of a slow walk. That’s great if you’re very heavy or injured and aren’t able to go any faster – but if you’re an able-bodied person, challenge yourself to get the most from your workout!
5. Interval Training is the Most Efficient Way to Burn Fat Swimming
Speaking of challenging yourself, interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat swimming. In interval training, you push really hard for a period of time, and then slow down to a less intense level of workout. You might start with as little as a 30 or 60 second intense interval, and several minutes of slower swimming. Over time, you can increase the length of the intervals and really burn the calories.
Ready to get started? Come visit us tomorrow when we take a look at some of the best (and most flattering!) swimsuits when swimming for fitness!