Tips to Improve Swimming Conditioning


One of the best things about swimming is that it gives you an intense, rigorous workout and it’s fun to do.  Swimming workouts are perhaps the most effective, safe, full-body workouts you can do. It’s great for your heart, increases your flexibility, builds long, lean muscles and strengthens your core. Whether you’re looking for a swimming workout for beginners or you’re a seasoned open water adventurer, we have some dryland workout tips and exercises for swimmers of all types.

Create Swimming Workouts that Make Sense

The best swimming workouts are much more than just swimming laps.  For the best results start with a swimming workout plan and stick to it.  

Warm Up: Warm ups for swimming being outside the pool. Do several arm rotations to the side, in front, and above your head. Do a variety of dynamic stretches, like squats, lunges, knee-to-chest grabs, and a few good old jumping jacks and push-ups always help. If you practice yoga, a sun salutation is a great stretching technique.  Finish your warm up in the pool with 2 or more laps at a slow pace.

Drills: Drills get your heart rate up and your body moving faster. This is the time to focus on your technique before you get tired. Do 2 – 4 laps with a kickboard and 2 – 4 freestyle laps doing a fingertip drag as you recover from each pull. Double the laps if you’re an accomplished swimmer.

Sets: Now it’s time to really get it going. Your swimming workouts should include three key components of swimming training – speed, technique, and endurance. Focus on one thing for each workout.

Cool Down: After your sets you should cool down with 2 – 4 laps (or more) at an easy pace. Once out of the water, additional stretching helps your body recover. Pay special attention to your shoulders, back and hips.

Is Weight Training for Swimmers Necessary?

Weight training should be a part of every workout regimen, including swimming. But weight lifting for swimmers doesn’t mean have to hit the gym three days a week or buy a bunch of weights for your home workouts. You can get the same type of weight lifting exercises with isometrics, which provide the same type of resistance by using your own body and gravity.

Weight training also doesn’t mean you get big and beefy. It depends on the amount of weight you lift and types of exercises you do. Weight lifting breaks down muscles, so lifting heavier weights can limit your speed and endurance, at least at the beginning of a weight training regimen. We recommend lifting lighter weights with more reps to build strength and endurance without bulking up.

Weight training for swimmers is more about strength training than anything else. Building your strength will make you a faster swimmer, and it also helps you avoid injuries. Swimmers are susceptible to shoulder injuries, such as inflammation, rotator cuff injuries, and should impingement syndrome. Swimmers are also prone to neck and low back pain. So, reduce the risk of injury and swim faster by including a strength training element to your swimming workout plan.

The Best Exercises for Swimmers

Exercises for swimmers don’t have to be done at the pool or the gym. Again, with isometrics you can exercise at home using your own body as the gym. Here are several exercises that will build your strength and endurance, increase your flexibility, and improve the quality of your swimming workouts in the pool.

Shoulder External Rotation

Isometric Shoulder Exercises

  • Bend your left elbow by your side to 90 degrees.
  • Reach your right arm over and place your right palm on the outside of your left forearm.
  • Press your palm against your forearm, squeezing both shoulders and upper back.
  • Repeat with your right arm.

Jump Squat

Isometric Leg Exercises

Add power to your lets with this plyometric variation on the traditional squat.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly bend your knees, keeping them above your toes.
  • Stop when you’re halfway down and hold it for 10 seconds. This is an isometric hold.
  • Go as low as you can with your arms out parallel to the floor.
  • Now, instead of raising slowly back up to standing position, leap into the air with your hands reaching up high. If you’re indoors, make sure you don’t hit the ceiling. Land on the balls of your feet for a soft landing.

Trunk Rotation

Isometric Ab Exercises

Powerful swim strokes require a strong core. Combine this exercise with a standard crunch.

  • Place your left palm on your right shoulder.
  • Keep your right arm relaxed by your side.
  • Keep your back straight and both hips square. Rotate your torso to the left as you push your left palm into your right shoulder.
  • Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Do this complete exercise 10 times.

Isometric “Military” Press

Isometric Shoulder Exercises

  • Stand up straight and bend your left elbow by your side, fist up.
  • Place your right palm on top of your left fist. Your right arm should be parallel to the ground with your elbow bent about 90 degrees.
  • Press your right palm into your left fist and hold this for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Do this complete exercise 10 times.

Improve Swimming Conditioning with Activ5

The best swimming workouts are often done outside the pool. It’s about preparing your body to perform at maximum potential when you’re in the water. It doesn’t matter if you’re a competitive swimmer or just looking for a good cardio swimming workout, an isometric strength training program will get you to where you want to be faster, safer, and more efficiently than any other workout regimen. And to improve your isometric workouts, consider Activ5 which has over 100 gym-based isometric exercises that improve your strength, endurance, flexibility, and power. Activ5 makes workouts fun, tracks your progress on a sophisticated smartphone app, and functions as a game controller.

Remember to consult with your physician before beginning any exercise routine.

5 Safe & Effective Exercise Routines for Seniors


When it comes to safe and effective workouts, perhaps no group can benefit more than seniors. But a wide range of factors, including fitness level, strength, mobility, balance and others can impact what’s safe and effective. An 85 year-old California woman just completed the Boston Marathon this year, but a lot of people half her age have a hard time getting off the sofa.

The point is that for seniors there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” workout regimen. Some seniors are incredibly fit and active, and others not so much, due to health issues and injuries. Regardless of your fitness level, there are several rules of thumb when considering various exercises.

  1. Keep it low-impact: I know we just mentioned a marathon. but running takes a toll on your body… up to 2,000 strides per mile, each inflicting 3 to 4 times your body weight, per stride.
  2. Take care of your back: Exercises like leg presses, upright rows, dead lifts, and even stomach crunches can strain your back and keep you from doing any exercise at all.
  3. Remember you’re stiff: If you’re a senior you know how tight, stiff, and achy your joints and muscles can get. Be sure and stretch first and avoid high intensity workouts, like plyometrics.
  4. Expand your mind: Just because your grandfather lifted rocks to stay fit doesn’t mean it’s good for you. New technologies can change the way you exercise… for the better.

Here are five workouts to consider, so you can exercise safely and effectively, whether you’re an active senior, need assistance in your daily routine, or rehabilitating from an injury or illness.

Swimming

The pool is ideal for exercising because water provides resistance without much impact. Here are a few you can do that require no equipment.

  • Flutter kicks: With both hands on the side of the pool, float your body up and start kicking. Get your heart rate up and keep going for 60 seconds. Slow down if you need a rest.
  • Leg Swings: With one hand on the side of the pool raise one leg forward and hold for a few seconds. Then, swing it back behind and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Arm Circles: In neck deep water, stand with one foot out in front and one foot behind for balance. Lift your arms sideways, elbows straight, and palms down. Move your arms in small circular pattern for several seconds, then spin the other direction for several seconds.
  • Walk / March: Just walking in water is great exercise, but if you step high and move your arms in a marching motion, it’s even better. Go until you are out of breath.

Yoga

Yoga is something you can do in a class or on your own once you know a few positions and combinations of moves. Yoga will improve your strength, balance, and circulation, while increasing flexibility and mobility. You can even do yoga in a chair!

Walking

The benefits of walking focus on your heart health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Try to get your heart rate up, but don’t get out of breath. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes and stay hydrated. A 20-minute walk just three times a week will yield results.

Body-weight Training

Your body is its own natural gym! Just using your body’s weight as resistance can benefit your overall health in many ways. Here are some exercises you can do right now:

  • Squats: Stand up straight with your feet should width apart. Slowly lowery your body, keeping your head facing forward and your back straight (don’t bend over). Raise your arms out in front of you as your body lowers. Go as low as you can comfortably and hold it for 5 seconds. Raise back up into standing position.
  • Toe Stand: Holding the back of a chair for balance, raise your body up on your tippy toes. Hold it for 5 seconds, and lower yourself back down.
  • Leg Raises: Using the chair for balance, raise one leg out 45 degrees behind your body and hold it. Slowly swing it out in front of you at the same 45-degree angle. Hold it for a few seconds. Repeat with your other leg.
  • Push-ups: If you can do a push-up, that’s fantastic. If it’s too much to do a full push up, try doing them on your knees rather than feet. Or you can do wall push-ups (just make sure you’re not too far away from the wall!)
  • Arm raises: Stand up straight and simply raise your arms over your head. Hold your arms up and stretch them nice and good. Try holding them up for 20 seconds. It’s not easy, is it!

Isometrics

In a nutshell, isometrics is about pushing muscle groups against each other or against a fixed object. Isometrics can be done anywhere, anytime. You can do isometric exercises standing up, sitting down, even lying down. What’s great is that you get all the benefits of every exercise mentioned above. In fact, many of the exercises above are, in fact, isometric. Anytime you hold a muscle group in a fixed position, it’s isometrics. Here are a few more you can try:

  • Plank: If you can get into a push-up position, whether it’s on your toes, knees or against the wall, all you do is simply hold that position for 10 seconds. Lower yourself halfway to the ground or wall and hold for another 10 seconds. You can do planks on your elbows too.
  • Stomach crunch: Not your traditional crunch which can be bad for your back, you can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. All you do is contract your abdominal muscles for 10 seconds. Do it 10 times.
  • Bicep “curls”: Hold your right hand out in front of you, palm up, bent at the elbow. Place your other hand on top of it and grip your hands together. Try pushing your right hand up and using your left hand to resist it. Then, try pulling your right hand down using your left hand to resist it. Switch to your left side and repeat. You can do these arm resistance exercises in a variety of positions. It’s all about using your own muscle groups against the others!

There are countless isometric exercises you can do, regardless of how healthy or mobile you are. You can get even more out of an isometric workout using the Activ5 fitness device, which pairs with a smartphone app. It coaches you through over a 100 gym-based exercises, keeps track of your progress, and keeps you motived.

Regardless of what kind of fitness routine you choose, just make sure you choose something. Smart, safe, and effective exercise is key to both physical and mental wellness, especially for seniors.

Please consult your doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Now get up and get moving!