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What You Need to Know About Swimming for Exercise

What You Need to Know About Swimming for Exercise

Swimmers know that this time of year, during the post-Olympic glow, is when the local lap lanes become a whole lot more crowded.

With a brand new swimsuit, goggles in hand, and stomach bursting with pride and motivation after watching the top swimmers in the world race over the course of a week, an intrepid wave of new and returning swimmers head to their local lap swims to take on the sport of swimming.

For some, watching the Olympics has gotten them excited to get back into the water, while for others, it’s their first foray into organized swimming.

You have a few different options for what to do:

  • Hit up the local lap swim. Almost every neighborhood pool has scheduled lap swims scattered over the course of the day. Late afternoon is typically one of the harder times to get pool time, as club teams, lessons, and other aquatic programs like synchro take advantage of the after-school hours to schedule programming. Swimming at your own pace is fun and safe in terms of the challenge. You can progress at your own pace, although the big limitation is that with no one to instruct you, there are some technical improvements to be missed out on.
  • Join a local club team. USA Swimming has nearly 3,000 club teams spread across the United States, so if you are a kid and you are looking to get competitive with the sport, you can start here by searching for a team in your area.
  • Sign up with a Masters team. There are heaps of benefits of swimming masters — they take everyone from newbies to former Olympians, meaning that whether you are dipping in for the first time or getting back into your age group hero days, there is a lane for you. You can learn more about whether there is a club near you here.

Building a Swim Workout

Assuming that you want to get a few sessions in on your own or you want to supplement the swimming workouts you are already getting, here is how to build your own swim workout.

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There are 4 parts to your typical swimming workout.

  1. The warm-up. If you have worked out in any capacity at any point in your life, you know the purpose behind this. Start with a low intensity to loosen up the arms and legs. How much you want to do varies with the workout at hand, but devote 20% of your total workout time. Throw in a bunch of kick work — it will really help increase your core temperature.
  2. Drill/Pre-set. Here is where we set the stage for the main set that is to come. Feeling loosey goosey, we escalate the intensity and attention to technique. Alternating efforts of moderate-intensity swimming with drill work is one of my favorite ways to go about this. For the drill work, pick those that reflect what you need to improve on the most in your stroke.
  3. The Main-set. The bread and butter! This is where the bulk of the hard work is done. What you end up doing here is unique to you and your goals in the water. For straight aerobic work, you could swim a series of 100’s with about 10 seconds rest in between, or unleash some high-end speed with a set of sprint 25’s and 50’s with a little bit more rest.
  4. The warm-down. Now that you have worked your butt off, it is time to kickstart the recovery process with a structured cool down. Depending on the intensity of your workout, the warm-down should last about 10-15% of your total workout (so 5-10 minutes for an hour workout). Remember to keep your technique intact and swim out the lactate and neuromuscular fatigue so that you can come back and take another healthy swing at tomorrow’s workout.

Breaking Down the Lingo of Competitive Swimming

If you’ve ever looked at the whiteboard at a swim practice, you might be forgiven for thinking you were staring at a Fourier equation. Heavy on abbreviations, short hand, and code that is recognizable only to that particular group of swimmers, it can be a lot to take in.

Here is a sample set and the explanation of how they are laid out:

8×50 freestyle swimming @1:00

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  • 8 = number of repetitions
  • 50 = distance covered per rep
  • @1:00 = the interval per rep

Here are some of the common terms you will see scrawled up on the whiteboard in addition to the sets:

Bilateral breathing: This means that swimmers breathe to both sides during freestyle. To breathe bilaterally, you would take a breath after every 3 strokes, for instance.

EZ: Shorthand for “easy.”

Negative split: Come back faster on the second half of the rep. If you swim :31 seconds for the first 50 of a 100, the goal would be to swim :30 seconds or faster on the second 50.

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Even Pace/Split: The goal here is to swim the first half and the second half of the repetition at the same speed.

Stroke: A majority of swim sets are performed in freestyle (or front crawl). When “stroke” is listed in the set, this means to do any of the other three strokes (butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke).

Distance Per Stroke (DPS): The goal here is to maximize length with each stroke without over-gliding.

Kick (sometimes just “K”): This is when you use a kickboard (or in a streamline on your back for backstrokers) and perform kick with a board.

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Pull (or “P”): Know that pull buoy that coach had you grab from the equipment bin? Throw it between your legs (between your thighs — not your ankles) and let your arms and shoulders do all the work.

Getting Faster

Swimming is a highly technical sport. The importance of technique is hard to overstate. When we watch swimmers like Ledecky and Phelps, it’s not just their conditioning that allows them to overtake the rest of the world — it’s their ability to swim faster with less exertion than the competition.

Keep this in mind as you are improving and getting a better feel for the water. If you are serious about wanting to get faster in the pool, you need to pay equal attention to swimming better and faster.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals

8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals

Are you frustrated by the fact that you haven’t been able to lose weight? Have you ever wondered if you don’t actually know how many calories you eat in a day? How much exercise do you ACTUALLY get, and why doesn’t anything seem to be working? A weight loss tracker can help you answer all of these questions and more.

How can we start to see results and have the momentum to keep moving forward? The answer is simple:

Have a game-plan and know exactly what is going on inside your body.

If you really want to excel at your fitness goal, then you need to have a game-plan for success. You need to know what will keep you motivated, how to simplify things, how to be more efficient at your goals, and even find what you enjoy the most.

You can start by checking out Lifehack’s Busy Yet Fit Course, which will help you get into the groove of working out, even if you have a busy lifestyle.

If you’re blindly trying to chase your goals, then you probably feel about as hopeless as a carpenter with a butter-knife. So, it’s time to stock your toolbelt for success!

I am about to show you the top weight loss tracker apps that will be game-changers for you. From nutrition trackers to step counters, these apps are sure to set you on the fast track to your fitness goals.

Keep reading to find the apps that might just shoot you past your plateau and into the lifestyle you dream of.

1. MyFitnessPal

    When it comes to the best weight loss tracker apps, this one takes the cake (The Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan cake that is).

    MyFitnessPal is the best all around calorie counter that I have found on the market. This app is free and has almost all the calorie counting resources available to you. Not only does it seamlessly estimate the daily calories needed to hit your goal, but it also gives you the methods to track it.

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    Just enter the ingredients of each meal you eat, and it will add up how many calories you eat. It can also scan product barcodes and automatically enter those calories for you.

    Going a step beyond that, this app also tracks your macros (according to your own customized goals) and nutrients. Furthermore, you can input a desired weight to track your weight loss journey.

    While that all seems impressive enough, this app also tracks exercise calories and can sync to Fitbit, MapmyRun, and other apps to measure your exact energy ratio.

    If you want a one-stop map to success, then this is it! This will not only help you develop a game plan, but will also create a flexible plan to get you there.

    Get the app here!

    2. Fitbit

      I know you’ve already heard of this app, and for good reason. Fitbit has been helping thousands step their way to health since it first came out.

      While investing in a Fitbit may not be cheap, I believe it to be well worth the investment.

      Fitbit will track your total amounts of steps each day. For those of you who are competitive, this is the perfect app to keep you moving and motivated throughout the day.

      This app can also sync with other fitness apps, like MyFitnessPal, to measure your exact energy expenditure each day. It’s a keeper for sure, especially if you’re looking for a great weight loss tracker.

      Get the app here!

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      3. MapMyRun

        This is another one for the competitive, beginner, or exercise enthusiast. MapMyRun measures the distance that you run and even tracks your route. Furthermore, you can sync your daily results with MyFitnessPal to keep track of your daily calorie burn.

        If you want to go at it with a friend, you can challenge them in competitions that are sure to keep you both moving!

        Once, my husband ran for 2 miles just before midnight to beat me in a competition that was ending the next day. Talk about motivation!

        MapMyRun is perfect for those who like to challenge themselves, love to be part of a fitness community, or want a place for friends to hold them accountable to their goals.

        Get the app here!

        4. Zombies, Run!

          Are you having trouble pulling away from entertainment to go out and run? Then why not combine the two?

          ZombieRun is a fun app that is sure to get you moving if you are someone who is motivated by a good time. In fact, you might even have such a blast you will forget you are exercising!

          This app takes you through a storyline and makes you the hero. Each level will present a new challenge to help you progress and keep things exciting.

          You certainly won’t need to worry about your pre-workout. Imagining you are the hero in the story will be enough to keep your adrenaline pumping on its own.

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          Just be sure not to move too slow or the “Zombs” (as we runners affectionately call them) might catch you!

          Get the app here!

          5. Prepear

            Are you tired of sitting down for hours and trying to strategize what to eat? This app helps cut this time in a quarter and is a great addition as a weight loss tracker.

            Simply add online recipes into your weekly meal plan (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and it will organize all the ingredients you will need into a shopping list.

            With all your meal planning in one organized area, it will be easy to find which meal you plan to make for the day. This will keep your healthy recipes delicious. You will seriously never have to fret about meal planning again!

            Get the app here!

            6. Strava

              If walking is your health resolution, this weight loss tracker might be for you. Strava is sure to get you into healthy habits that you enjoy. In fact, you might start losing weight before realizing that you’ve even been exercising.

              This app enables you to track your trails and mileage, take pictures, and invite friends to join. It is a keeper for beginners and hikers alike.

              Get the app here!

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              7. Aaptiv

                If you find yourself at the gym and not sure what to do, then this app might be for you. Aptive gives you workouts to do and instructs you how to do them.

                While there’s nothing quite like the accountability of a personal trainer, Aaptiv is a great way to be guided through exercises without having to dish out tons of money.

                The online instructors will guide you through the movements and keep you focused on finishing the workout. This app is sure to make you a gym rat in no time!

                Get the app here!

                8. Freeletics

                  Here’s one for those of you always on the move! Freeletics is an incredible app designed for people who just don’t have the time (or motivation) to drive down to the gym. Freeletics provides online workouts designed specifically from bodyweight with no equipment needed.

                  You will be surprised at what a great workout you can get without any equipment.

                  That’s right, you work-travelers; say goodbye to your excuses because this app is bringing the trainer to you!

                  Get the app here!

                  The Bottom Line

                  These 8 weight loss tracker apps are sure to revolutionize your fitness goals. Guesswork will no longer be a part of your fitness journey. These apps are like carrying professionals around in your pocket all day!

                  Get ready to be motivated, informed, and ready to start achieving your dreams!

                  More Tips for Weight Loss

                  Featured photo credit: Gabin Vallet via unsplash.com

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