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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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Published on April 12, 2019

7 Best Weight Loss Supplements That Are Healthy and Effective

7 Best Weight Loss Supplements That Are Healthy and Effective

The proceeding article has been written from my own personal experience with weight loss, along with research I’ve personally conducted, and from conversations I’ve held with individuals in the health and wellness space. The below suggestions for supplements are being given under the pretence that you will in fact investigate these substances further to conclude if they make sense for you personally or not.

I’m a huge proponent of research and information, and also suggest you consider a DNA analysis test such as ones available through companies like Ansestory and 23andme. You can download your raw DNA data, and then upload it to FoundMyFitness Genetics – Genome Analysis Tool by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, or Promethease.

The purpose of uploading your raw DNA data is in order to gather information pertaining to supplementation, dietary habits, and albeit lifestyle decisions that will be optimal/in accordance with your genealogy. You can then apply this information in your day to day life in order to become the best version of you!

Before we dive into the list of supplements, ask the following question first:

Do You Need Supplements?

The short answer is not really, however as mentioned above, you may want to consider certain supplements by the mere fact that they are suggestible for your gene type.

An example of this for me personally is a genetic predisposition to Vitamin D deficiency, which came up in my comprehensive DNA report. With this information in mind, I make an active effort to supplement Vitamin D, and get my butt into some sunlight as often as possible!

So in certain cases supplements may not be totally required, but highly advisable.

When I began losing weight several years back, many thoughts ran through my mind, from bogus weight loss supplements, to even considering the quick and easy liposuction of 40-50lbs.

However when I took a moment to listen to my own instinct and intuition, the truth about these ideologies is that they do not solve the root of the problem – lifestyle choices.

My general opinion on supplementation for weight loss is that one need not focus on substances or external things in order to achieve weight loss.

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When I was losing weight, after having gained it through silly lifestyle choices (to keep things short), my focus was not on supplements but on the consistent effort towards maximal weight loss and fat loss.

In order to maximize weight/fat loss — I’ve discussed many times over the importance of incorporating Intermittent Fasting (Time-Restricted Eating), in conjunction with high activity levels throughout the week.

Simply put, you need to consider how you structure your eating, as well as the amount of exercise, effort, and overall exertion – leading to daily caloric expenditure.

Get yourself in a healthy caloric deficit, not by starving yourself, but by exercising, eating healthy and within a Time-Restricted “eating window”.

7 Supplements To Consider for Weight Loss

1. Caffeine or Green Tea/Extract (Matcha)

This is one of the quickest and most easily accessible supplements for weight loss.

Caffeine can boost the metabolic rate and increase fat burning. However, people become tolerant to the effects, and as such its impact will slowly diminish.

Matcha is derived from the same plant as Green Tea – Camellia sinensis. Matcha tea is low in calories, and high in antioxidants such as Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). Scientists at the University of Colorado found that the EGCG content in matcha is 137 times more than Chinese green tea. These antioxidants can help flush out toxins, boost immunity, and reduce the body’s inflammation, which helps prevent weight gain and accelerates weight loss.

Matcha can boost metabolism and aid in fat burning while also balancing blood glucose levels.

2. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

Your body naturally produces alpha-lipoic acid, but it’s also found in a variety of foods and as a dietary supplement typically in pill form.

ALA is an organic compound found in all human cells, made inside the mitochondria – where it helps enzymes turn nutrients into energy. Some research suggests that it may play a roll in weight loss, diabetes and more. There have also been antioxidant properties associated with ALA such as the ability to lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, reduce skin ageing, and improve nerve function.

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You can obtain ALA without supplementation from animal products such as red meat and organ meats, along with plant foods like broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Animal studies have indicated that ALA can reduce the activity of the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), located in your brain’s hypothalamus. Meanwhile, human studies conducted showed that alpha-lipoic acid has only a slight impact on weight loss. An analysis of 12 studies discovered that people who took an alpha-lipoic acid supplement lost an average of 1.52 pounds (0.69 kg) more than those taking a placebo over an average of 14 weeks.

Personally I use ALA on and off when I’m looking to cut weight.

3. Glutamine

Generally speaking, Glutamine is beneficial because it improves the maintenance of muscle mass, which in turn helps burn more fat.

By introducing Glutamine to your diet it will also yield anti-inflammatory benefits and help reduce cravings for high-glycemic carbohydrates.

Foods that are high in glutamine include meat, seafood, milk, nuts, eggs, cabbage and beans.[1]

4. Krill Oil

High in omega-3 fatty acids, which yields various health benefits, including improved heart and brain health, a reduced risk of depression and even healthier skin.

Researchers have suggested that fish oil omega-3s may help people lose weight more easily.

Studies have concluded that while both fish-sourced and krill-sourced omega-3 fats are effective in reducing fat levels, krill is more effective. The mechanisms of how this is so had not been made clear in the study, but suggested long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) can reduce activity in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system consists of a group of neuromodulatory lipids and receptors that influence appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.

Researchers found that, when parameters associated with obesity were considered, krill oil reduced heart fat levels in rats by 42 percent, compared to 2 percent for fish oils.

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I personally shifted from Alaskan Wild Salmon fish oils to Krill Oil due to the fact that it’s more potent and overall more effective, though the cost of the supplement is slightly more.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Many would note that apple cider vinegar is a low calorie drink; however, my focus on noting this supplement is relating to suppressing fat accumulation which was found in animal studies.

A team of researchers also investigated the effects on obese Japanese in a double-blind trial. Daily intake of apple cider vinegar may be practical in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.

Additionally, some studies suggest that apple cider vinegar helps stabilise blood sugar levels, and primarily after consuming a high carbohydrate meal.

There’s many other benefits of apple cider vinegar to note, however they don’t directly correlate with weight loss, so for now I’ll leave them unmentioned, but encourage you look further into this powerful supplement.

6. L-Carnitine

This supplement is a bit speculative, and I haven’t had too much personal experience with it, thus it’s towards the bottom of the list.

L-Carnitine plays a crucial role in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into your cells’ mitochondria – which acts as engines within your cells, burning fats to create usable energy. This helps move more fatty acids into your cells to be burned for energy, so it’s suggested this would increase the ability to burn fat and thus lose weight. However, results of both human and animal studies are mixed in this case.

This is one of those supplements that may work for one person, but not another, and it’s highly discussed and debated in the bodybuilding and fat loss community.

I suggest you look further into L-Carnitine, and perhaps experiment on a trial to see if you notice any improvements in weight loss and fat reduction.

7. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) [Bonus]

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in meat and dairy products. This supplement is gaining popularity and has become widely regarded as a contender for the weight-loss miracle pill.

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Though I personally do not think such a magic pill exists, it’s certainly fun to throw around the term ‘miracle’ and generates a lot of buzz in doing so.

During a trial, one group of overweight women lost 9% body fat in one year’s time without any adjustments in lifestyle or eating habits.

Now, don’t take this as a suggestion to not improve lifestyle, as I introduced this article with the pretence that it’s the most important aspect of losing weight.

In a few small animal studies, CLA has been shown to prevent heart disease and several types of cancer, while appearing to enhance the immune system. Human studies are not as conclusive as they used body fat scales (such as DEXA – Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) to measure improvements, which are inherently not that accurate.

This is another one of those supplements I suggest researching further, and trialling in conjunction with lifestyle adjustments to see if it works for you.

The Bottom Line

Once again I can’t stress enough that merely supplementing for weight loss will not yield exponential results – you must exercise, move your body, and I highly advise introducing Intermittent Fasting/Time-Restricted Eating if you haven’t already done so.

Please research more into these supplements to determine if they make sense for you. And I don’t suggest using all at once as you won’t be able to accurately gauge which are most effective – cycle through them by taking one, two, upwards of 3 supplements at any given time. If you want to experiment, then switch after a couple months of use.

I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss journey and if would like to learn more about the above supplements, take a look at my video here:

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

Reference

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