Swimming is a fantastic way to burn fat and calories. It’s easy on the joints, and a great change of pace from pounding the pavement or putting in hours at the gym. Whether you’re looking to melt away the pounds in time to look great for summer, or trying to find an excuse to buy men’s competitive swimwear (or women’s!) to show off a new hot body, these water-based workouts will get you on your way to fitness.
So while the words ‘aqua-aerobics’ may bring Florida retirees in swim caps to mind, water based aerobics have evolved far beyond this limited view. Aqua-aerobics are incorporated into physical therapy routines around the world, and are a great choice when you’re recovering from an injury or looking for an intense work out that won’t burn out your joints. Most local gyms with pools offer classes, or you can tackle a challenging activity like running on your own. Aqua-aerobics are also a great option if you are not an avid swimmer.
Add weights to increase intensity
Consider adding weights to your laps to increase the calories burned and the toning benefits of the exercise session. Options include ankle and wrist weights, weighted vests, and hand weights/barbells that you hold as you swim. Even a modest addition in weight can increase the fat you burn during a workout. It is important when swimming with added weight to ensure that you protect weight bearing joints, and that you are always putting safety first.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
High intensity interval training refers to dividing your workout into segments. You begin with a warm up routine, and then follow something like the following breakdown. On your perceived level of effort, begin to swim at a 3 for approximately 2 minutes. Then for 30 seconds, kick your effort up to a 7. Then repeat, for the rest of your swim until your cool down. HIIT has been shown to have multiple benefits, from burning increased calories during a workout, to increasing metabolic burn for up to 12 hours after the session.
Varied Stroke Sets
Swimming laps can get boring if you don’t vary your stroke sets. It’s also important to look at which parts of body you are working. The following sequence can used to maximize variety. Begin with a warm-up, then transition to freestyle. Engage in a full body swim for a specific number of laps. Then focus on a pull session, where you kick less and allow your upper body to do most of the work. Switch then to a lower body session, where you are propelled by your legs. These transitions and changes can happen as frequently as you’d like and can be adapted to any length workout.
Pool Yoga and Pilates
If you enjoy doing yoga and Pilates but would like to find a way to minimize your potential for injury or just enjoy a change of scenery, there are a number of options from aerial yoga to pool based yoga. Water yoga eases pressure on your joints while allowing you to hold poses for a longer period of time and go deeper into it without fatigue. Classes are available at local gyms and pools, or in conjunction with some local yoga studios. If you’re interested in exploring pool based yoga, you can also choose a series of poses from your standard work out and self-guide.
Whatever your fitness goals this summer, there are a number of exercises that you can do to shake up your pool based work outs and increase calorie burn. So go dig out your bathing suit and get into the water to improve your weight, flexibility, and overall health!