Swimming is a good fitness choice for just about everyone, especially those who have physical limitations or who find other forms of exercise painful. Water's buoyancy accommodates the unfit as well as the fit. Water cushions stiff joints or fragile bones that might be injured by the impact of land exercises. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50% of its weight; immersed to the chest, it's 25%-35%; and to the neck, 10%.
Not only is swimming easy on the body, its a great way to get fit. Swimming recruits all the major muscle groups, including the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. And because water affords 12 times the resistance as air in every direction, it really helps to build strength.
Different swimming strokes will target different muscle groups. Building strength in the upper back and shoulders can help with the poor posture which we adopt over time, especially with office work.
The front crawl stroke is great for those who enjoy faster paced swimming because it generates the most force.
This stroke recruits the chest muscles, the lats, and other back muscles.
Because this exercise requires rapid movement of the arms, going from above the head to down by the sides of the body, you'll tap into your fast-twitch muscle fiber potential, leading to improvements in speed and power.
This stroke is less intensive than the front crawl or breaststroke. If you're doing a recovery swim between intense workouts at the gym, this should be your go-to stroke.
Not surprisingly, this stroke will hammer your back. Your lats pull your arms beneath the water and then back to the surface again.
Your hamstrings come into play slightly more due to the back-down position. This muscle group propels you via the flutter kick, which helps drive the body forward.
The breaststroke requires the most skill and coordination. Your lower and upper body must move in sync. However, this stroke isn't typically performed with great speed, so it's better for overall strength generation and cardiovascular endurance.
This stroke will target the shoulder muscles to a significant degree (they move the arms overhead, from behind you to in front of you, and into the water again). From there, the chest takes over, along with the lats, pulling your arms through the water under your body.
Finally, the stroke that will really kick your fat burn into high gear is the butterfly stroke. This stroke is excellent for boosting your metabolism; targeting your chest, shoulders, and back; and helping to build better power and strength.
This stroke requires the arms to move forward simultaneously, then into the water and back again. Your core will scream as it keeps your body stabilized moving through the water.
This is a great stroke to perform as interval training sessions in the water. The intensity will make it easily possible.
So now that you know the different swimming strokes, you also have to determine swimming frequency. As with any form of exercise, create balance in your program between swimming workouts, weight training workouts, active rest and recovery.
Choose your swimming frequency based around the rest of your training regimen and your recovery abilities. If you know it takes you some time to recover between each of your sessions, you'll need to maintain a few days off throughout each workout week.
If you are unable to make it to the pool or even if you are, try these quick scapula retraction exercises to work on upper core stability and it will also help strengthen your swimming strokes. By doing this exercise before you swim and even before you go to bed at night, you’ll help rectify the bad posture which you may have adopted at work. Over time this will get better and better and may even help to cure common ailments such as a tight neck, shoulder and back muscles.
Run through each of the Y-T-W-L positions shown in the picture in turn, hold each position for about 10 seconds. Stand up tall as you do it but keep your back straight - don't arch it. Hold your stomach in, your shoulders back and chest proudly forwards. We suggest you repeat the YTWL through about 5 times each time.