Hey, what's up mate.
I really enjoy swimming, but am a naturally very skinny guy. I'm just wondering are there any strokes, or workouts you can do in the water which will bulk me up? Even slightly?
I see a lot of swimmings are quite cut, but they're not all that slim, they still have quite a bit of muscle on them. Is that from constant swimming everyday, or does swimming do more than just cardio?
Also, my mates is looking to simply lose weight. Are certain strokes better cardio than others?
Thanks heaps for any input.
Hey RobBob, I have a question on swimming.
Hey, what's up mate.
Yes, it's true that a lot of those swimmers do have a fairly muscular build - and most swimmer do not get that from lifting weights. One of the key things to realize is that swimming is like any other activity. To build muscle, you need to challenge your muscles with something that pushes them to the edge. Going longer distances will build some muscle and will tone your muscles, but it will have a greater endurance/cardio building effect than muscle. Whatever you're doing though, swimming is a great mix of both using muscles through out your entire body and is great cardio.
First of all, for strokes it all depends upon what you like. Technique is crucial, I cannot stress this enough. The big thing about being able to swim efficiently and powerfully is to have technique. After that, you can focus on conditioning much more easily and you may find that you enjoy it more since you'll see a significant difference in how fast/far you can go. The difficulty with good technique is that you really need someone to point out what you need to work on and show you in person. My strokes are backstroke and front crawl (freestyle). The most challenging stroke would be the fly, but it does do a great job of working your body all through your legs, core, and especially your shoulders.
To gain muscle, you'll want to focus on swimming for speed. Try doing 50m (one full length lane, many pools are 25m, 25 yard, or sometimes have their own length) bursts where you're going at about 70-80%, rest 45s, and repeat. Do this anywhere from 6-16 times depending upon how you're feeling. Also, you can try doing a couple full out sprints, but no more than 2-3 of those and save them until near the end of swimming since you'll feel tired from the lactic acid build up afterwards.
If I can emphasize some things that just about everyone seems to have trouble with, first I'd say keep good body position. You want your ass and hips to be pushing up to the surface and your core muscles are what will do this. This will decrease drag and be excellent work for your core. Next, go for long strokes as if you're reaching out to grab something out beyond your body. Be sure to kick, don't let your legs drag along while your arms only pull. And finally, pay attention to your face coming out to breath if you do freestyle. You don't want to rotate any part of your body except your neck directly to the side.
That may be a lot to take in for technique, but I suggest working on one thing at a time. Memorize one thing from what I said and work on it, then go on to the next thing another time. Oh, and if your friend is looking to lose weight then he should try doing some of those 70-80% workouts with you, and he should also be trying to swim long distance. Whatever he is comfortable with, he should start with that and increase his distance from there.
I hope that helps you. If you want to challenge yourself, and also improve your technique, then try freestyle "hypos". This is where you go across the pool while taking as few breaths as possible while staying on the surface doing freestyle. It's more a psychological thing than physical, and it really helps with technique since you don't have the irregularilty in your strokes from breathing. I could do a 0 breath hypo on a 50m pool by the end of our school swim season. To start out, a shorter pool would be a little easier to do. See if you can get down to 0-2 breaths in a 25m lane before trying 50m.
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Thanks heaps, I'm about to join a Gym which has a decent swimming pool avaliable. Something which I'll definately be taking advantage off, even if I go there half the time just to muck around not for a true workout.
Thanks again for all the info, I'll try it out and see how it goes.