It grounds me. It keeps me calm. The water is my blue abyss. A barrier between me and the real world. In that muffled underwater oblivion nothing can touch me. I am a sea creature, relying on nothing but myself. My body. My breath.
My mind wanders. The weeks events float through my mind. I ponder. I wonder. I construct. The niggles of the day wander past my eyes. I breathe. They leave. I feel my lungs burn as I suck in air between strokes, but it's good. This is my meditation. My watery cocoon of zen.
I am after all an Aquarian. It seems fitting that I feel so at home in the water. I always have. It caresses me and consumes me. Though sometimes I can swim in too much of a dream state. I am guilty, at times, of wafting through my workout. It's so nice to just float along semi slowly in my comfort zone without really getting my heart rate to work too hard. Though sadly, the pay-off truly comes when you do push that little bit harder; Make it hurt just a little. And seeing as I am on a mission to get my BMI in the realm of healthy, I am all about working out effectively!
So how do you get the most out of your swimming workout? Here are some tips!
High Intensity Interval training:
Seriously, interval training is the shiz! It is the ultimate fat burning workout. Not only does High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) help you to burn more calories in a shorter time, it helps you to burn fat without burning muscle and it also allows you to continue burning fat within the 24 hours after you exercise! And all you have to do is push it. After a warm up set of around 8 - 10 laps, start your interval training. Swim one 'attack' lap as hard as you can and then swim a 'recovery' lap. Depending on your fitness levels you can change the attack/recovery proportion around. Perhaps one attack lap to two recovery laps, or half a lap attack before one and half laps recovery, and so on. Swimming like this for 10-15 minutes burns more calories than swimming for one hour at a relaxed rate!
Flippers or fins are sometimes looked at as a cheating method. But if you use them as a training tool and not a cheating tool then they can totally help you work harder in the water. For example swimming one set of 10 with fins with help work your legs harder, so when you go to take those puppies off you'll suddenly feel your legs come alive. Fins are proven to help tone up your quads and glutes in the water by increasing the resistance in the water. Personally my quads and glutes could definitely need some toning!
Hand paddles are, well paddles for your hands. Just as flippers can help tone your legs and bum, hand paddles can help you to tone your shoulders and back more efficiently. Though, shoulders can be fickle things. It took me over five years to recover from a shoulder injury! So be sure to warm up before using hand paddles and do your research to insure your technique is correct.
I know, flutter boards just seem so naff! But they are actually fantastic for training your legs and working on your kick technique. I am guilty of letting my arms, shoulders and back do a lot of the work for me in the water. I recall my swimming coach telling me if kept that up I'd be "all shoulders". That's not really the look I was/am going for! I like to swim at least six laps with the flutter board before my interval training, to wake my legs and butt up. That way, they are ready to work hard on those attack laps.
So there you have it. Those are my tips for working out in the water. Go hard, or get out of the pool I say!