Swim Workout Equipment
First, let us go over some options of equipment that you may want to include in your workouts. The three main items you will see available at most pools are:
- Pull Buoys
Kickboards are a great option to isolate the leg muscles and specifically build up strength in the legs. The great thing about incorporating the kickboard is that your face and head are out of the water so breathing is easy. Mixing in some kicking can act as a bit of a breather letting you catch your breath while still working the leg muscles.
Flippers or fins will give you greater propulsion with your kick allowing you to move more quickly from one end of the pool to the other. As a beginner, this can be a real advantage as you build up your stamina and strength. Though the recommendation would be to mix your workout up by adding flippers of a portion rather than for the whole thing.
The third item is the pull buoy. The pull buoy is a bit more advanced as it eliminates the use the legs forcing the swimmer to only use the upper body. Give yourself a little time to build your upper body strength before introducing the pull buoy. Swimming becomes much more challenging without the use of the legs!
Swimming Drills for Beginners
Just like with any exercise workout, a warm up is highly recommended. This is a time to loosen up the body and muscles and it helps to prevent injury. Typically, 5-10 minutes to warm up is enough time for the body to prepare itself though everyone is different. You will want to some easy cardio, maybe 5 minutes of walking or a few easy laps (1 lap=1 length of the pool) in the pool. You will also want to stretch really focusing on the back, shoulders, chest, and legs.
Beginner Swim Workout #1 – Interval Style
A simple workout can be done with intervals and can easily be adjusted based on your ability and progression. Here are some examples:
- 1 lap, rest 15-30 seconds x4 times
- 2 laps, rest 15-30 seconds x4 times
- 1 lap with kickboard, rest 15-30 seconds x2 times
- 2 laps with kickboard, rest 15-30 seconds x2 times
Maybe you just do number 1 for your first workout. That is awesome! The great thing about intervals like this is that as you get stronger, you can increase the reps (number of times) and even decrease the rest (maybe just resting for 10 seconds.) Perhaps the second time in the water you want to add some use of the kickboard so you do numbers 1 and 3. As you get stronger, maybe it becomes numbers 1, 3, and 1 again. You can mix up the strokes that you do for the different sets as well. You will be surprised how quickly you build up strength!
Workout #2- Combo
Combination of swimming and water jogging
- Swim one lap
- Water jog one lap*
Water jogging is great exercise as well and keeps your body moving up as you return to the other end of the pool. *If the pool has a deep end and you cannot jog back, hop out and walk. This will allow your heart rate to come down a little but without a full stop of activity. It’s a great way to build up your endurance and as you get stronger, add more reps!
Workout #3- Pyramid Style
As you start to get stronger and find you can swim farther without needing breaks, a pyramid style workout is a great way of mixing things up.
- Swim 1 lap, rest 10-30 seconds
- Swim 2 laps, rest 10-30 seconds
- Swim 3 laps, rest 10-30 seconds
- Swim 4 laps, rest 10-30 seconds
Start by just going one way with the pyramid. Again, as you get stronger, add the downward descent. Or increase laps but add 5 and 6. There are a lot of ways to play around with this workout as well.
The Cool Down/Recovery
A lot of swimmers will do a few laps easy swim as a cool down. If you have a few laps left in you to do this, great. However, you might find the workout itself leaves you exhausted, and a few laps cool down sounds like more energy than you have left in you. Just like the warm up, maybe a 5 minute walk is a better option. The goal of the cool down is to slowly lower your heart rate. Take another few minutes for stretching to help reduce tightness in the muscles. Drink lots of water to hydrate as people often don’t realize how much you sweat while swimming!
Remember, there is no right or wrong if you keep your workout within your limits. Mix it up and keep it fun as that’s the best way to maintain the motivation to keep at it!
Do you need a little help to refine your stroke or perfect your swimming skills? Hire a Sunsational Swim Instructor to meet you at your home or community pool!
Jennifer Stanger’s bio:
Jennifer moved to Charlotte, NC several years ago after growing up in CT and living in various states in the New England and New York area. She was a competitive swimmer from ages 5-18 competing at both local and state levels. She started teaching swim lessons and coaching at the age of 16 and has continued her love of swimming. She now teaches group exercise classes at the local YMCAs, works in the behavioral and mental health field and continues to swim while also taking up the love of distance running. She continues to teach swim lessons to all ages and abilities as it is a way of sharing a positive experience of her own childhood with others.