Hey Team! And welcome to Swimming When You Are Completely Out of Shape
Have you decided to pick up and learn swimming this year? If so, there might be a BIG obstacle in your way that you must handle first!
Are you completely out of shape?
Are you struggling to walk up a flight of stairs?
Have you lived a sedentary lifestyle for a long time?
If these are questions that you are answering yes to, then learning swimming is going to be very difficult for you because of your out of shape cardiovascular system. The breathing that is required for swimming, especially front crawl, is NOT going to be easy if you’re body is struggling to do even basic physical activity.
The website Nutristrategy.com (http://www.nutristrategy.com/caloriesburned.htm) complied a list of hundreds of activities that people can do and the calories that they burn doing so. Swimming at a leisurely pace for one hour, not even fast, will burn upwards of 350 calories. Being able to handle that is easy for a person who maintains a good physical condition.
But if you are a person who is struggling to handle basic physical activity, make no mistake about it, you will struggle with swimming. Especially any sort of stroke where you are on your front. The exhaling and inhaling mechanism that is required of you will be too stressful on your respiratory and cardiovascular system.
So perhaps we need to consider taking a one month time out and trying a basic physical conditioning program to get ourselves into decent enough shape. The gains that you could make with even 15 minutes of physical activity a day would MASSIVELY impact your ability to swim. I would insist that anyone truly serious about learning to swim consider spending a month training their cardio.
So what is the easiest way to go about this?
One of my favourite mentors in the Fitness community is a guy named Elliot Hulse. The advice that he gives on maintaining good physical shape is so much different than everybody else in the community right now. And that is because his advice is centred around the principle of “Becoming the strongest version of YOURSELF”.
This means that he encourages people to try out different exercise protocols and to assess yourself on what is making you a stronger person. You don’t need the $100/ an hour trainer to tell you what is right for yourself necessarily.
Whether that means jogging for a half an hour in the mornings.
Doing a hour on the elliptical a few times a week.
Or deadlifting 200 pounds.
It’s ultimately up to you to find the exercise program that is the right fit for you. Nobody else’s advice is going to work for 100% of the people out there.
So I’m going to recommend the following beginner steps. There are loads of people out there who can recommend a much more thorough program for you, but the following two recommendations should get you in good enough shape so that your physical condition is not what is holding you back in the water.
If you are 100% completely out of shape and can barely make it up a flight of stairs without being out of breath, here is what I want you to try:
- Every day, go outside and do a 15-30 minute walk (time permitting)
If you are dead out of shape, we need to build the cardio up in some fashion. Walking WILL help you. And the problem that I can already see in your mind is that this advice is not very “sexy”. But I need to break it to you; there is no Magic Pill that will take you from out of shape to looking like a pro body builder in 7 days. So give my basic advice a try.
Walking every day, even for just 15 minutes, will have an impact on your cardiovascular endurance.
If you are in decent shape already and you are really struggling with breathing during your swimming, then I’m going to recommend the following to help really take your cardio to the next level.
Train using Tabata Interval Sets:
If you don’t know what these are, then you’re in for one hell of a surprise. These are an exercise tool that consists of doing 8 sets of the same exercise with pre-designated rest intervals in between each set. The catch is, the rest interval is 10 seconds. And the number of reps is not pre-defined either. You are going to do as many reps in 20 seconds as you possibly can and then take your rest. So the structure looks like this:
- Exercise 20 seconds
- Rest 10 seconds
- Repeat 7 more times (8 sets total)
While you are doing Tabatas, you must exert yourself as hard as you can after your 2nd set (you run the risk of injury going all out right at the beginning). This means hustling your ass off for the last six sets, otherwise you aren’t going to be growing your cardio muscle at all.
Due to the high intensity nature of Tabatas, certain exercises suit themselves best so that you aren’t completely unable to do anymore reps after your 3rd set. Try Tabatas with:
- Any other exercise you want to give it a shot with
These have been the number one tool for keeping me in excellent cardiovascular health during my twenties. They really kick your butt and not only that, you can crank out two Tabatas when you get home from work and you’ll be done working out in less than ten minutes!
Let me know if you need more advice from me and I’ll talk with you again soon!