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Updated 03 October 2013

Swim yourself slim

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. We spoke to Virgin Active's swim coach Anton Louw to get an easy to follow programme to get you fit and trim in the pool.

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Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise as it provides both a cardio and toning workout that is low-impact. We spoke to Virgin Active's swim coach Anton Louw to get an easy to follow programme.
But firstly here is some motivation as to why you should hit the pool:

  • Swimming is a total body cardiovascular workout.
  • Swimming is low impac and alleviates stress on joints and muscles.
  • It is a great way to cross train.
  • It improves your core strength.
  • Many post-operative patients use swimming as a way to ease back into exercise.
  • Athletes use swimming to maintain a good level of aerobic fitness during their off-season.
  • A vigorous swim programme can benefit weight loss.

Swim away the weight

So how many kilojoules can you burn from swimming? According to Louw, if you engage in "moderate swimming, the average 65 kilogram swimmer can expect to burn between 800 to 840kJ, and an 85 kilogram swimmer between 804 to 882kJ while swimming moderately for 30 minutes. 

For a more vigorous swimming workout a 65 kilogram swimmer can expect to burn between 1260kJ to 1302kJ , and an 85 kilogram swimmer between 1302kJ to 1365kJ while swimming vigorously for 30 minutes. Increasing the duration and intensity of your swim session will result in an increase in kilojoules burned.

3 tips to start swimming

Louw has the following top three tips for starting a swimming programme: 

  • Swim regularly - at least three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Vary your training, volume, intensity and type. You may want to engage the local swim coach at your health club to table a few guidelines to create your own interval training sessions. Remember to keep records of your training.
  • Book a few sessions with a swim coach to guide you through best swimming practices.

Beginner swimming workout

Day 1

  • This is a 1500 metre workout. Perform the warm-up session with a 300 metre swim. You can change the swimming style after every 50 metres. Follow with an actual workout consisting  of the following:
  • 10 x 50 metre freestyle laps, with a 10 second resting period in between.
  • Kick with a board for 10 x 50 metre laps. Rest for around 10 to 15 seconds in between each lap.
  • End with a 200 metre easy swim.
  •  

Day 2

  • This is a 1500 metre workout. Start the warm-up session by doing a 300 metre swim split the following way: 100 metre freestyle, kicking 100 metres with the board and a 100 metre backstroke.
  • Follow with two split sets of 500 metres each divided into the following;
  • 100 metre easy swim; then rest for 10 seconds.
  •  2 x 75 metre laps swam at a slightly higher intensity. Rest for 10 seconds between each lap.
  •  3 x 50 metre laps with an increasingly higher intensity. Rest for 10 seconds between each lap.
  • 4 x 25 metre laps swimming as hard as you can. Rest for 15 seconds in between each lap.
  • Now rest for one minute and repeat the workout.
  • End with a 200 metre easy swim.
  •  

Day 3

  • This is a 2000 metre workout.  Warm-up by completing a 400 to 500 metre free stroke.
  • Start the actual workout split the following way:
  •  5 x 100 metre lap with a resting period of around 20 to 25 seconds between each lap. Swim at a pace slightly faster than your warm-up.
  • Next, perform 5 x 75 metre laps with a 15 to 20 second resting period in between.  Try to maintain the same pace as the previous set.
  • Further, embark on 5 x 50 metre laps with a 10 to 12 second resting period in between. Try to maintain the same pace as previous set.
  • Finally, complete 5 x 25 metre laps with a 5 to 6 second resting period. Again try to maintain the pace you set out with.
  • End the workout with a backstroke of 5 x 50 metre laps.
  •  

Day 4

  • This is a 2000 metre workout. Start the warm-up session with a 300 metre lap, split the following way:  100 metre freestyle, 100 metre kick and 100 metre backstroke.
  • Follow with three split sets of 500 metres each in the following way:
  • Start off with a 100m easy swim resting for 10 seconds
  • Embark on 2 x 75 metre laps swimming at a slightly higher intensity. Rest for 10 seconds in between each lap
  • Continue with 3 x 50 metre laps with increasingly higher intensity. Rest for 10 seconds between each lap.  
  • Follow with 4 x 50 metre laps swimming as hard as you can and resting 15 seconds in between each lap.  
  • Now rest for one minute and repeat the last two sets.
  • End with a 200 metre easy swim.
  •  

Day 5

  • This is a 1500 metre workout. Perform the warm-up session with a 200 metre lap. You can change swimming styles after every 50 metres.
  • Follow your warm-up with the following:
  • 2 x 500 metre laps (or 10 x 50 metre laps) free style with a 30 second rest period between laps and a one minute resting period between sets. This time swim each 50 metres as hard as you can.
  • End with a 200 easy swim

 Reference: Anton Louw, Virgin Active South Africa
Photo: iStock

(Amy Froneman, Health24, March 2012)


Read more:
Your starter kit for swimming
Stroke technique

 
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