by Jessica Remitz

The Ultimate Yoga Guide: Which Type of Yoga Is Right for You?

Looking for a way to break out of a gym rut?

Consider strengthening your muscles and challenging yourself to a total body workout in the water by starting a swimming routine. Our expert shares a few exercises for beginners and explain why swimming makes a great workout.

Swimming Benefits

An effective exercise for people of all ages, swimming is a non-impact sport that challenges the body while helping to train the heart, lungs and muscles, says Lesley Mettler-Auld, a running, triathlon and fitness coach in Seattle. By using your arms, legs and core to move through the water, you're increasing muscle tone and bone strength. Swimming is also often prescribed as a tool to help people recover from other sports-related injuries, and swimming helps challenge the mind while working the body. "It's not an activity everyone knows how to do -- like walking -- thus we have to think harder and work more on technique to figure out how to get through the water," says Mettler-Auld.

Adding swimming to your workout schedule can also act as a recovery exercise on days following a hard or long workout, says Mettler-Auld.

Starting a Swimming Routine

Because swimming can take some getting used to, take your time developing a routine, and learn to relax in the water while focusing on your technique and movement. "Even athletes in great shape will claim how hard swimming is at first, so start slowly," says Mettler-Auld. "Try for 15 minutes or so and work from there."

Add in a few minutes at the pool at the beginning or end of your cardiovascular workout to begin with, then start supplementing your cross training activity with a swimming routine. Here are two workouts to try, based on the standard lap size of a pool (from one end of the pool to another) being 25 meters.

Routine No. 1: 1,200 meters

- 200 meter swim (freestyle)

- 50 meter kick (with a kickboard if you have it)

- 100 meter pull (swimming using just your arms to pull you forward)

- Four 50 meter drills, or slow-moving swim to improve on a certain part of your stroke (depending on what you want to improve, Mettler-Auld recommends kick drills or specific stroke-improving drills.)

- 100 meter swim

- 50 meter kick

- Four 50 meter drills

- 200 meter pull

Swimming Routine No. 2: 1,200 meters

- 200 meter swim (freestyle)

- 100 meter pull

- Four 50 meter drills

- 50 meter swim (rest 10 seconds)

- 100 meter swim (rest 20 seconds)

- 150 meter swim (rest 30 seconds)

- 200 meter swim (rest 40 seconds)

- Four 25 meter swims alternating hard/very easy

- 100 meter cool down

Focus on your form and stroke throughout these exercises, says Mettler-Auld.

As you improve your technique, you'll notice an increase in both stamina and speed. As these routines become easier, increase difficulty by adding another set of similar exercises, decreasing the amount of rest time between intervals or lengthening the intervals (i.e. Four 50 meter swims alternating hard/easy), says Mettler-Auld.

Jessica Remitz is a freelance writer and web producer living in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in a variety of health and lifestyle websites including Spafinder, FitPregnancy and Everyday Health.





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"How to Start a Swimming Routine"