Don’t we all love splashing around in the pool?
Diving in on a hot summers day.
But you know, swimming doesn’t have to be a thing of summer holidays. You don’t have to wait until you’ve disembarked the plane.
Because swimming might be a fun activity, but it’s also a great way to work your entire body.
In fact, swim workouts are more effective than land based workouts, just a 30 minute swim is the equivalent of an hour’s land-based workout.
It’s because of the water.
Water is more dense than air, so the workout is tougher.
But what are the other benefits of swimming, and how to you do a swim workout, HIIT or otherwise?
Let’s find out…
But first, I’m going to talk about the benefits, because I want to make sure you know all about them before you carry on, or go off and search for another type of workout.
When you get in the pool you are completely surrounded by water, and water is very supportive. It cushions your joints. That means whatever aches and pains you’re suffering, you will be able to go for a swim.
It’s a low impact workout. It could be considered a zero impact workout.
In fact it’s one of the most accessible types of workout. And by that I mean, once you’ve learnt how to swim you’re good to go. Whether your pregnant, recovering from an injury, have joint issues like arthritis, swimming is good for them all.
Swimming maybe low impact but it is not low on the effort scale.
That water that cushions and supports you also challenges you. Water is 12 times more dense than air. So any workout in water is going to be more challenging than a land based workout. Even walking will be more of a challenge.
It has been said that just 15-20 minutes in water is better than an hour’s land based workout.
It is a great form of exercise. A full-body workout that not only uses all of your major muscle groups, it will increase your cardiovascular fitness as well.
We all need a bit of help with our core muscles, right?
After pregnancy, maybe even before pregnancy, our core muscles become stretched. A little weak. So afterwards they need a little help.
And swimming can provide that help.
It’s all because of the position you’re in when you’re swimming.
You have to keep your body flat, with your legs behind you. That requires a strong core. The more you swim and keep your legs in that position, the stronger your core becomes.
And the great thing is, it doesn’t matter what stroke you decide to do, breaststroke, front crawl, butterfly, they all require the same position. So your core muscles will be strengthened not matter which one you choose.
In most other workouts you have to work your core muscles independently. But with swimming workouts your core is always being strengthened.
Most exercise, especially if you enjoy it, is good for your mental
health, but swimming is particularly good.
Again it comes back to the water.
It surrounds you. It supports you. It soothes you.
Water has been shown over and over again to be stress relieving and depression busting. So if you’re having a bad day, go for a swim, it just might help.
Well, there’s one very obvious thing you need for swimming...a pool. Although that isn’t strictly true…
There has been an upsurge in wild swimming of late. Swimming in the sea, a river, a lake. So maybe I should revise that to, you need a body of water.
There are a few things to consider if you’re planning on going for a wild swim. This is a very good read.
Whilst the workouts below are specifically pool workouts, they could be adapted for wild swimming.
So, what else might you need.
Well, other than a body of water and a swimming costume you don’t need anything. Although a few bits of equipment may make your swim more challenging. A bit different, and more fun.
Hand paddles are like paddles you put on your hands.
They help to develop your upper body strength because they make it harder to pull your arm through the water.
A pull buoy is a figure of eight shaped float. It’s designed to fit between your legs so that you can swim with good alignment without using your legs.
They’re great for perfecting your upper body technique. Slowing down your stroke. Or making your upper body work a bit harder.
Flippers add resistance to your kicking
motion, which makes your lower body work a bit harder.
They’re great for improving the technique and power of your kick. Or for making your swim a lower body workout.
High intensity interval training can be adapted to any form of
exercise. Swimming is no different.
You give maximum effort for a short period of time, which is immediately followed by a period of low intensity work so that you can recover.
That is the fundamentals of high-intensity interval training.
Because of the maximum effort required in this type of training, if you’re a beginner swimmer I really wouldn’t suggest you do a HIIT swim workout. You need to be pretty confident in your technique when you’re going all out.
I’m by no means saying that your technique has to be text book perfect. Mine is far from it. But it has to feel comfortable. You have to feel confident in the water.
So, leave the HIIT sessions until you’d consider yourself an intermediate swimmer. If you’re a beginner, focus on your swim technique.
Go for longer distances, a longer workout where you can practice your strokes and concentrate on getting proper form.
Once you’re comfortable, try a HIIT workout.
And now we get on to what you’re going to do…
With all of the HIIT swimming workouts below you can choose the stroke you use.
As you know I’m a big fan of doing what you enjoy, and the last thing I want to do it force you to do a stroke that you don’t enjoy doing.
If you enjoy them all, great. You can alternate.
But these workouts work with any stroke so don’t worry about it too much.
I’m not going to offer advice on how to do particular strokes, because I’m not a swim coach.
I love swimming, and have been doing it for many years. But I’ve picked up quite a few ‘bad’ habits when it comes to my technique. They work for me, but they’re probably not good for anyone else. So, if you’re looking to perfect your technique I’d suggest having a look at this site.
The other thing I want to mention is about your warm up.
You should do a warm up for every workout you do, and a swim workout is no different.
So, what do you do for a warm up?
Well that’s easy...an easy swim. A couple of laps at a slow pace. Getting gradually quicker. Until you’re up to a brisk pace.
Again, your choice of stroke.
Mix them if you want. Or just stick to one. Your decision.
For this one it will help if you can touch the bottom of the pool.
It’s not essential, but it will help.
Swim one length as fast as you can. Walk back to the start. Repeat 10 – 20 times depending on your fitness level, the size of the pool and the time you have available.
Your rest period is the walk back to the start. But as soon as you get back you should be ready to go again.
If you can’t touch the bottom of the pool, whether it’s for the whole length or just part of it, you could switch the walk back to a swim back.
Just take the pace down a bit.
Try a different stroke, like a back stroke, which should also allow you to take full deep breaths.
This is a really simple way of adding a bit of HIIT to your swim training.
Yes, even in the water you can’t get away from an EMOM.
You will need equipment for this one, at least a pull buoy. If you have hand paddles and flippers feel free to add them as well.
So just to remind you, EMOM means every minute on the minute. At the top of every minute you complete the required movement. You rest for whatever is left of the minute. The harder you work the more rest you have.
Complete 3 – 4 rounds of this for a 15-20 minute workout.
A reminder, ARMAP means as many rounds as possible. Do as many
rounds as you can in 15 minutes. You want to go as fast as you can,
but make sure you maintain good form, and rest where you need to.
If you can’t touch the bottom of the pool, pull yourself out and do the high knees beside the pool.
I love AMRAP’s because they’re a good fitness test.
Record how many rounds you could do in 15 minutes and try this again in about a month. You should smash your previous record.
There’s no getting around it, swimming is a great workout and HIIT swimming workouts are the best way to supplement your swim
It is a whole body workout that will sky rocket your metabolic rate and calorie burn. Helping you hit your fitness goals in no time.
And it’s a fun type of exercise.
So why not give it a try?
As always, let me know how you get on. And if you enjoyed any of these HIIT swimming workouts remember to sign up for my newsletter and get fun workouts directly to your inbox.