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Swimming Workouts Set #2: Drills With Fins

Swimming is an excellent exercise for cardiovascular health, muscular strength and fitness. But, once you’ve become accustomed to your swimming workout, you may hit a plateau and stop obtaining results from your routine. This is because your body adapts to the stresses you apply to it and your traditional swimming workouts may no longer be doing the trick.

Bilateral Breathing by Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin demonstrates body roll necessary for bilateral breathing.

In order to keep your body changing and progressing, you must either add a new stimulus or increase the level of difficulty. Swim fins can accomplish both simultaneously, allowing you to continue seeing results from your swimming routine.

Wearing swim fins will allow you to swim longer distances without overworking your arms or becoming fatigued early on. Below is an example workout with swim fins for a person of intermediate swimming ability.

Warm Up: 200 meter freestyle.

Swim at your own pace, increasing intensity as you go. Breathe deeply and get the blood flowing to your muscles.

Muscular Power: Six 50 meter sprints.

Increase speed and power with each sprint. Begin at 50% in the first sprint, then increase to 75% in the second and third, 80% in the fourth, 90% in the fifth and an all out 100% in the sixth. Aim for 20-60 second breaks in between each sprint. Note: It may take time to learn your personal difficulty levels. Using a rate of perceived exertion will help, 10% being very, very easy and 100% being very, very hard.

Endurance/Cardio: 300 meter freestyle followed by 200 meter backstroke.

Maintain a steady kick and speed. Only stop in between styles if absolutely necessary. This is about self-regulating and pushing yourself to the finish.

Cool Down: 200 meter freestyle.

Swim at your own pace, decreasing intensity as you go. Take deep, soothing breaths and relax. You just made it thorough your first swim fin workout!

What to Eat Before a Workout
Finding the right pre, post, and mid workout snack can be a challenge. Seek low-calorie, high carb foods to eat during a workout.

When implementing any form of exercise, if you are working on muscular performance and cardio/endurance in the same day, you should always perform the endurance portion last. This will ensure top muscular performance and strength gains in the beginning and will increase calories burned in the end. The absolute best exercise routine would break up the muscular performance and the endurance components between days, allowing you to focus on each aspect separately for best results.

Muscular power, displayed in the above routine, is just one component of muscular fitness. If you aim to work on overall strength, include longer bouts of moderate- to high- intensity swimming versus short bouts of high intensity swimming. For example, 100-meter freestyle sprints at 50-100% speed/intensity.

Remember, everyone’s body responds differently to exercise. Your program should be based on your skill level and desired results. Once you begin seeing yourself adapting to your swim fin routine, mix it up. Change your tempo, style and type of swim workout to ensure continued positive adaptations.


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