Swimming is a great way to get in shape. As a low-impact exercise, swimming provides the heart and lungs with a valuable workout while minimizing stress on the joints. Whether you want to burn calories, improve your fitness or stay in shape while recovering from a leg injury that keeps you out of your running shoes, this beginner swim workout could be right for you.
Equipment for Swim Workouts
As well as your swimsuit, you'll need a kickboard to help you complete this beginning swimmer workout. This is simply a foam board that supports your upper body while you work on your kick technique. You'll also probably want to invest in a swim cap to keep your hair out of the way and a pair of goggles so you can improve your underwater fitness without irritating your eyes.
Try This Beginner Swim Workout
Here is a basic swim workout that most new swimmers can complete in less than an hour. It focuses on freestyle, which is the main stroke that competitive swimmers use. Freestyle is fast and efficient and allows you to glide through the water without placing stress on your knees or back.
1. Warm Up
Warm up by swimming 100 yards (four laps of a standard 25-yard pool) of freestyle at an easy pace. During these laps, focus on adopting a steady breathing rhythm. Most swimmers breathe every two or three strokes, but you should do whatever feels right for you.
2. Kick Drills
Work the powerful muscles in your legs by performing 100 yards (four laps) of kick drills. Hold on to a kickboard with your arms outstretched in front of you, keeping your face in the water except when you need to breathe. Kick your legs in a steady rhythm to propel yourself forward in the water. Try to avoid bending your knees; instead, allow the motion to come from the hip joint, which produces a more powerful kick. Kick drills are very tiring, so give yourself a 20-second break between each lap to recover.
3. Work on Technique
Next, swim six laps of freestyle, focusing on creating a powerful pull with each arm and using the good kicking technique that you just practiced. Challenge yourself to use one less stroke in each successive lap. To do this, you'll need to focus on making each pull as long and powerful as possible by stretching your arm out in front of you just before it enters the water. Take a 20-second break between each lap so you don't get too out of breath.
Now it's time to kick your workout up a notch. Swim four sprint laps, aiming to decrease your lap time by two seconds each lap. Take a 30-second break between each lap -- you'll need it to recover your energy for the next 25 yards.
5. Cool Down
Finally, swim two laps of freestyle at an easy pace to cool down and relax your muscles. Congratulate yourself on swimming a quarter of a mile. If you repeat this workout regularly, you should soon see your lap times during the sprint section start to decrease.
Varying Your Workout
Once you've mastered freestyle, you can try other swimming strokes, such as breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. As you become a more advanced swimmer, include these strokes in your workout to add variety and work all the muscles in your body. If you regularly work out in the pool, you should notice your fitness beginning to improve so you can swim faster and farther with less effort.