It is common knowledge that swimming is one of the best activities for mental and physical well being. Improvements in flexibility, posture and great cardiovascular exercise are only a few of the benefits that regular swimming provides. For professional and amateurs alike steps to improve swimming performance are high on the priority list. What many do not realize is that there are plenty of exercises one can do outside the pool that will directly improve swimming performance.
Weight Training To Make You A Better Swimmer!
Warm Up: Before beginning any sort of physical exercise a 5 – 10 minute warm up session is highly recommended. A light jog, followed by stretches help the body get in prime position for a healthy workout.
Cable Exercises: For swimmers it is beneficial to utilize resistance training concepts to condition their bodies for the water. Quick high repetition exercises such as pull downs, push downs and cable rows should be incorporated into a circuit for the upper body work out.
Core Body Exercises: To improve swimming stamina and speed the focus on core body exercises is important. The stronger the core the better the balance, flexibility and posture which means improved form. Bicycle crunches, dead-lifts, squats and lunges all work on strengthening the core and can be varied to make the work out versatile and fun.
Leg Work: Every person who goes to a gym has heard this adage: never miss leg day! Swimmers should live by this statement as a powerful lower body is bound to improve swimming performance. Leg presses, extensions and curls should be incorporated with cable kicks into a circuit which will lead to a complete leg work out.
It’s All About Breathing Right!
Ask any professional swimming coach and the first tip to improve swimming performance they will give is to learn about breathing techniques! Correct breathing creates more energy for the body, better circulation and improved metabolism. Different styles will necessitate diverse breathing patterns and rhythms depending on their individual requirements but one fact that will remain is that the main ‘work phase’ is done during the exhalation phase of the breathing process. Diaphragmatic Breathing Techniques (DBT) focus on controlling the inhalation and exhalation processes to use and control the diaphragm movement correctly.
There are two basic steps to follow to utilize DBT to improve swimming, first is that on inhalation large amounts of air should be taken quickly and on exhalation a prolonged and even discharge of air should be maintained till the lungs are completely empty. To improve and practice breathing; meditation and yoga incorporate all the right things that are required and not only do they provide the physical benefits but also mental well being.
Make Exercise Enjoyable!
The main issue a lot of swimmers face is the motivation to exercise and this can also be a problem for swimmers who do not enjoy exercising outside the pool. A simple trick to counter this is to try and find activities that are more enjoyable. A great alternative to weight training is to do other sports such as playing soccer or even gymnastics. These keep you in good physical condition and also strengthen your body which can improve overall fitness andimprove swimming performance.
Improvements in swimming performance can come from various different avenues, but a well regimented and organized routine incorporating different exercises and focusing on all the basics is suggested tactic that should be applied. The main thing to be kept in mind is to try and find the activities that suit you best and you enjoy the most. As always, consult with your physician before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle.