By Dale Wallis
There are so many benefits to swimming as a workout, including cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, muscle development and improved flexibility. Many would argue that swimming is the ultimate workout, so grab your kickboard and swim cap, and let’s get started.
Before jumping straight into your beginner swim workout, it’s important to complete a warmup session. Regardless of your fitness level, a warmup can help ensure that you don’t experience cramps or injury, and prepares your body to take on your next phase of exercise by prepping your muscles for the challenge ahead.
These warm-up ideas can get you started:
- Freelance swim: Allow yourself just a handful of minutes of freestyle swim to get your heart rate elevated and blood flowing. Follow up with some dynamic stretching outside of the pool. Repeat two to three times.
- Leg kicks with kickboard: Holding only a kickboard, kick your legs for the distance of a 25-yard swimming pool. Repeat this four times.
- Swim with a pull buoy: Swap your kickboard for a pull buoy between your legs. Swim without kicking for the same distance as your kickboard swims.
- Swimming strokes: Without pushing yourself too hard, use a different swim stroke for each length of the pool. Since each stroke uses different muscle groups, you’re able to get every part of your body warmed up.
Do warmup exercises, in any order and combination, that feels right to you. Since it’s not your main workout, you’ll want to have some rest times, about 30 seconds, between each activity, as well as a solid five minute rest before beginning your main workout.
Examples of Swimming Workouts
Now that your warmup is complete, it’s time to start your main workout. As a beginner, it’s important to keep your goals light and work up to a more rigorous workout plan for advanced swimmers once you have enough experience in the water. Take a look at these examples and jump (literally) right in.
Swimming Workout #1
- Freestyle swim for 50 yards at a steady pace.
- Swim 100 yards, or four 25-yard laps, with 30 breaths or less within each lap.
- Repeat these two steps three times.
Swimming Workout #2
- Swim freestyle for 150 yards, broken up into lengths of 75 yards, with the first length being at a steady pace and the second at a faster pace. Repeat twice.
- Swim 200 yards, broken up into lengths of 50 yards, both using a different swimming stroke and increasing your pace for each length.
Swimming Workout #3
- Swim for as long of a distance as you can, up to 25 yards, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this for the entirety of a 20-minute period.
- Each time you complete this workout, aim to increase the time spent in the pool by a couple of minutes.
Rest as needed within your workout and definitely before starting a new portion. Resting periods can last from just 20 seconds to a full minute, depending on what your body needs.
A cool-down period after your workout gives your body the chance to return to equilibrium. It will still include some aerobic activity, but it should be light enough so your heart rate can get back to its resting rate and overall body temperature can reduce to a normal number. To cool down, perform one 100-yard swim at a slow pace followed by some light stretching.
Your ideal workout plan can include swimming, running, yoga or any other combination that feels right and has you moving.