Swim It Off: 10 Swimming Workouts That Burn Major Calories
Swimming, alone, is an excellent way to get in your cardio and tone those muscles, but you can really kick it up a notch by incorporating these moves into your routine.
The pool is for more than swimming
If you are in a pool that is relatively shallow (about four to six feet), try a series of ten explosive squat jumps off the bottom of the pool with your hands over your head. “The water offers resistance on the way up and softens the landing on the way down,” says Misty Hyman, swim instructor and Olympic gold medalist. “You can increase strength in your legs, glutes, and abdominals without the stress of the landing on your joints that would happen on land.” If you do these rockets quickly, you will also increase your heart rate, which can add an extra cardiovascular boost to your swim workout. Want to tone your tush? Try these butt exercises that really work.
Pull buoy presses
To incorporate more core into your swimming workouts, try a pull buoy, a buoyant tool that goes between your legs to help keep the legs afloat so you don’t have to kick. “I recommend squeezing the buoy between the legs to engage the inner thigh muscles,” says Hyman. “Squeeze the glutes and the abs too, as if you are planking while swimming, trying to keep you body in a straight line. It’s OK for the body to rotate as you swim, as if you are rolling from side to side, but keep the body on one axis as it rotates.” Find more ways to make your workout more fun.
Using a kickboard helps you to focus strictly on your leg muscles during your swimming workouts. With your upper body on the kickboard, isolate your legs and focus on developing the kick. “Sometimes while swimming with your arms, it is easy to forget about your legs,” says Hyman. “With a board, you can make sure you are giving your legs a workout.” Want some more leg workouts? Try these easy exercises to make your legs strong.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a popular training style that burns more fat and improves endurance—and you can incorporate it into your water workouts, too. It involves short bursts of timed exercise followed by shorter bursts of rest. “Since it’s difficult to monitor the clock while swimming, transfer the work period to a distance that you swim,” says Kim Franklin, swimmer and coach. “For example you might do an 8 x 50 yard set, wherein you go all out the first 25 yards, and then take it nice and easy the second 25.”
“Jump outs are a fun way to mix things up and add dry-land strength elements to your pool workout,” says Franklin. “The dynamic movement of getting out of the pool will provide added cardiovascular work and the exercise done on deck will strengthen joints and work new muscles.” Try doing sets where you alternate swimming 50 yards with getting out of the pool and doing a dry-land exercise. (Choose from a range of body-weight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, or crunches.) Start with five to eight repetitions and increase the reps as you become more fit. Need a body-weight exercise to incorporate? Try these plank exercises that will transform your abs.
If you enjoy being in the water, but don’t like to swim laps, you can try incorporating a water jogging swim workout. “Water jogging isn’t just rehab for runners,” says Franklin. “It’s a great workout for anyone and provides all the cardio you need without the hard impact on your joints. You can increase the upper body and core difficulty level by wearing water webs on your hands to push and pull the water, or try holding aquatic dumbbells in your hands to create greater resistance with every movement.” Mermaid school is another totally fun water workout option.
Standing upright in the water, do a cross-country ski move down the length of the pool, scissoring your arms and legs similar to the movement of cross-country skiing. “To crank up the exercise, I grab two hand towels from the gym and hold one in each hand so it creates a drag as it moves throughout the water,” says Kim Evans, water fitness specialist. “Adding that resistance really gives the arms—and especially the biceps—a tough workout.”
Kickboard “L” Sit
This swim workout move hits the hip flexors and transverse abdominals. In the shallow end, sit in an “L”-shape with your back straight and your legs 90 degrees in front of you. The kickboard should be under your arms in front of you, like a table-top. You can push it underwater and rest it on the legs. “You have to lean slightly forward from the hips, over the board, but keep your back long,” says Evans. “Then kick your legs. You are trying to kick the feet to the surface, and the kick will move you backwards down the pool. If you are doing it with good form, you will feel it right away.”