Better Results With
You will see faster improvements in your fitness and technique.
Weekly swimming workouts will give you even more joys out of swimming, rather than just doing lap after lap.
Of course, if you're happy just swimming laps, and you're reaching the goals you set yourself, then keep up the good work.
It all depends on your goals, and how you reach them.
If you are struggling to meet your swimming goals, and losing interest, then structured swimming workouts are just what you need.
Fitness and Technique
I think swimming is an activity where fitness and technique go hand-in-hand. Most people will improve both whilst swimming.
There are the exceptions to the rule, people that just have the natural ability (or were dolphins in a previous life!). But everyone can always improve their technique.
Better technique will result in you swimming faster and using less energy to do so, and so you can swim further (i.e. improved fitness).
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Better fitness will result in you being able to easily perform each stroke (i.e. better technique).
Most competition swimmers will know that the best way to keep improving both, is to focus on them separately. So your swimming workouts should contain 20-25% of the time dedicated to technique only.
The rest of the time should be divided between warm up, cool down, and a main core of swimming aimed to improve fitness, as we'll see.
Ideas For Swimming Workouts
There are a couple of different ways you can structure your workout. Based on a 4 day per week routine, you can either:include technique time within each workout. Each session is slightly longer, but you are working on fitness and technique on each of the 4 days.
Example - Warm up 10 Mins, Technique 10 Mins, Core 25 Mins, Cool down 10 Mins (Total 55 Mins, all 4 days).leave technique out of 3 days and then spend the whole of the 4th day on it instead. This way each session is more intense, until the 4th day which can be seen as a "rest" day because there is no fitness work.
Example - Warm up 10 Mins, Core 30 Mins, Cool down 10 Mins (Total 50 Mins, days 1-3), Warm up 5 Mins, Technique 40 Mins, Cool down 5 Mins (Total 50 Mins, day 4).
It depends on what level of swimming you're at, on what you prefer to do and your time restrictions. You could try one structure for a month and then the other for another month, and see what you like best.
On to the actual workout. There are literally hundreds of different combinations of intensity, strokes and distances/times that you could use. I think half the fun, for me anyway, is coming up with different combos to make up a good workout:Intensity..
Easy - usually used in your warm up, cool down and technique.
Normal - used for most of your core workout.
Fast - may be used in your core workout.
Sprint - rarely used, only for very specific speed workouts.Strokes..
Butterfly - many people don't use this stroke as it is the hardest to learn, and without good technique, you may not move very far and use loads of energy! If you can't do it then you might wish to learn with an instructor, or as many do, focus on the other strokes.
Backstroke - a great stroke for variation, and good in the cool down as you can breathe easily.
Breaststroke - depending on your swimming level and technique, this stroke can be either very easy or extremely hard! Using correct technique, this is actually a very hard stroke. But most beginner to average swimmers keep their head out of the water which makes it much easier.
Freestyle - this is the classic front crawl stroke, and when done correctly is the fastest stroke we know (if you discover one faster then let me know!!).
Kick/pull - the above strokes can be done without the use of your legs or arms. Kick is where you only use your legs and usually hold a board in your hands. Pull is only using your arms. These are good when you're working on technique, or during your warm up and cool down.
Distances - most swimming pools are 25m in length, so 25m should be your minimum distance. Thereafter, common distance sets are 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500m. These can be broken down, for example, 4x50m-rest 10s, which means 4 sets of 50m with 10 seconds rest between each set.
Times - you can also vary the amount of rest time you have between sets, and even between workouts. Rest is actually very important for improving fitness and keeping well.
Rest will help you break your workout into phases and keep it interesting. After all the whole point of a workout is that it's not a continuous swim. Anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds is a good range for rest between sets.
If you have a workout routine of 4 days a week, then the other 3 days should be spent resting from swimming workouts. You could do another form of exercise in those days, depending on your overall fitness goals.
Start-up TipsAs with any new workout, always start slow and only do what you know you can do. You can increase the level of your workout each week, depending on how hard the previous week was.If at any time during a workout you feel it is too hard, then stop immediately and rest. In my experience, it's best to stop that day's workout, take a rest day and then start again the following day. It'll work better in the long run.Try and vary each workout so it's different from the last. There are so many combinations you can use, it's actually quite hard to get bored of them. You'll see more progress and enjoy it more.Make sure you have the right equipment before you start. Swimwear and goggles that fit, are the essentials you'll need for regular swimming.Don't forget your warm up and cool down. Along with rests, they are just as important to your fitness as the actual core swimming workouts.
Your swimming workouts are very much what you make them. It's very personal to you, your swimming ability and your motivation to progress.
If you feel like you're not making progress, then ask a friend to go with you, and you can motivate each other. You may also feel more comfortable in the pool, knowing you have a friend there with you.
On to your successful swimming workouts.
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