Integrating Swimming into a Total Fitness Program

Integrating Swimming into a Total Fitness Program

You will develop fitness best and maintain interest in continuing your exercise program by varying the structure of your workouts. Incorporate kick boards, pull-buoys, hand paddles, and fins into some of your training sessions. Cross training is a good option for developing well-rounded fitness. Swimming results in moderate gains in strength and large gains in endurance.

Because swimming is not a weight-bearing activity and is not done in an upright position, it elicits a lower heart rate per minute. Therefore, swimmers need to adjust their target heart rate zone. To calculate your target heart rate for swimming, use this formula:

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Maximum swimming heart rate (MSHR) = 205 age

Target heart rate zone = 65-90% of MSHR

For example, a 19-year-old swimmer would calculate his or her target heart rate zone for swimming as follows:

MSHR: 205 19 = 186 bpm

65% intensity: 0.65 X 186 = 121 bpm

90% intensity: 0.90 X 186 = 167 bpm

Swimming does not preserve bone density as you age, so swimmers are advised to include weight training in their exercise program. Perform at least one set of 10 repetitions


• Warm-up: Swim 100-200 meters (2-4 laps of a standard pool) at an easy pace.

• Intervals: Swim 10-20 sets of 100-meter swims at 90% effort, with 30 seconds of rest between sets. After every 5 sets, swim 25 meters using your legs alone.

• Cool-down: Swim 100-200 meters at a slow pace.

• Weight training: Do at least 1 set of 10 repetitions of 8-10 exercises that work the body’s major muscle groups.

Flexibility: Do standard stretching exercises for the shoulders, chest, back, hips, and thighs.

• Distance: Swim 1000-2000 meters continuously at a comfortable pace.

• Repeat Monday activities.

• Repeat Tuesday activities.

• Repeat Monday activities.

• Rest.

• Rest.

For 8-10 exercises that use the major muscle groups in the body. To improve swimming performance, include exercises that work key muscles. For example, if you primarily swim the freestyle stroke, include exercises to increase strength in your shoulders, arms, upper back, and hips. Training the muscles you use during swimming can also help prevent injuries. In your flexibility training, pay special attention to the muscles you use during swimming, particularly the shoulders, hips, and back. Table 3 shows a basic sample swimming program that incorporates all these types of exercises.

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