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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 July 23, 2020

10 Best Fitness Trackers to Improve Your Health

10 Best Fitness Trackers to Improve Your Health

A wise person once said, “health is wealth” and strangely, the year 2020 has been a constant reminder of this.

Working on our fitness and personal health has now become a part of our daily routine. With the constant pour of medical knowledge and its open accessibility, people now prefer to manage their health on their own. Due to this, we have seen a rise in apps and newly designed devices to provide high-quality service in the field of health management. 

One of the most innovative and successful additions in this field has been in the form of fitness trackers. This stylish device that goes on the wrist will fool you into mistaking it for any ordinary watch. However, these trackers with their modern features have proven to be lifesavers.

If you are looking to fulfill your 2020 resolution of “staying healthy and happy”, then I have a list of the best fitness trackers that you just can’t miss.

I have gone through several fitness trackers reviews including reviews from Techradar, Pcmag, and Wired, and compiled this comprehensive guide on the best fitness trackers that will help you to improve your health.

1. Fitbit Versa Lite

    Whenever you think of one of the best fitness trackers, the first brand that comes to mind is Fitbit. They started originally about the size of a band, but as the brand has expanded, they now provide fitness tracker watches as well as fitness trackers with heart rate monitor features.

    The beauty of these fitness trackers is they can track everything by this point – from your sleep cycle down to your heart rate. The battery also has a battery life of 4 days before needing to be charged.

    The only drawback is that the tracking isn’t as accurate as it could be in terms of the miles or steps taken. If you don’t mind that discrepancy then it’s no big issue.

    Get this fitness tracker!

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    2. Fitbit Charge 3

      For those who still love Fitbit but want a budget-friendly option, you have the classic Fitbit. The Charge 3 model offers the same capabilities as the Versa Lite, making it one of the best fitness trackers available out there.

      The only drawback is that since you are working with a smaller screen, the font is going to be smaller and challenging to read.

      Get this fitness tracker!

      3. Garmin Vívoactive 3

        Looking for another fitness tracker to help you exercise? Try out Garmin’s brand. Garmin offers a wide option of designs of their fitness trackers watches too.

        Another perk from this fitness tracker is that it offers GPS capabilities and even access to music. You can also use it to make payments with certain bank cards.

        That being said, this is a more suitable budget option. Comparing this fitness tracker to some of the other best fitness trackers out there, you’ll find this one to be lacking in every area – blurry screen, unstable firmware, and unresponsive at times, especially during workout sessions.

        Get this fitness tracker!

        4. Huawei Band 3 Pro

          For fitness trackers for women, one brand to consider is Huawei’s. Their Band 3 Pro has been out in the market for a few years and takes on a similar design to Fitbit’s Charge 3, except the screen is bigger.

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          Like other fitness trackers, this offers 50M water resistance, making it ideal to be in pools. It also doubles as a camera, offering a shutter on the device.

          That said, the fitness tracker can be a little off with its tracking. Furthermore, it offers a limited option of workouts, making it not as ideal of a personal trainer as others.

          Get this fitness tracker!

          5. Fitbit Versa 2

            I already brought up the Vera Lite option, but this is the original. Similar to the Lite variant, this offers the same features and design. It is a bit stronger in that it can last upwards of 6 days on a charge. It also offers other connection features like connecting to Spotify and Alexa. Overall, if you’re looking for how to lose weight and improve health, this is a solid option.

            There are a few minor gripes about the Versa 2 as well. From having to remove the watch from the case every time to charge it to a few inaccurate tracking, it’s something most can work over if you’re not too picky.

            Get this fitness tracker!

            6. Apple Watch Series

              Naturally, since we’re talking about watches, it makes sense that Apple would appear in this too. There are various apps you can get on any Apple Watch to help you with your health goals. Thus, it could be one of your fitness trackers 2020 options.

              Apple’s watches provide a host of benefits, including easy syncing with other Apple products, GPS capabilities, and is one of the many waterproof fitness trackers, provided you’re only going for a swim.

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              The only thing is you can’t rely on it so much for its battery life or the overall design. The battery life isn’t good compared to other fitness trackers. Also, the strap for the watch isn’t the strongest.

              Get this fitness tracker!

              7. Samsung Galaxy Fit Black

                Samsung is another big brand people are familiar with. Samsung is in the market and offers more budget-friendly fitness trackers for people. The overall design of the Fit Black is a mesh of Fitbit’s Charge 3 and Huawei’s Band 3 Pro – a thin band and screen though it covers a long surface.

                In terms of other unique perks, since Samsung is also in the market for smartphones, this device can connect to smartphones, allowing you to take incoming calls and receive notifications as well. Outside of that, you have the usual fitness tracker perk of being able to monitor water/caffeine intake, heart rate, calories burned, and sleep patterns.

                One of the downsides of this device is that the features listed above are the extent of what it can do. Also, a longer screen means that it might not fit well on many people’s wrists. 

                Get this fitness tracker!

                8. Polar A370

                  Another candidate for one of the best fitness trackers is Polar A370. If you’re looking for something with a simple design and simple features, this is a good pick.

                  This is your barebones fitness tracker in that it’s good at monitoring heart rate and sleep. It’s also compatible with other third-party apps to give you more information as well.

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                  On the flip side, barebones aren’t always what people are looking for. It can give you a good insight into particular issues, but it’s not going to be a solid lifetime fitness tracker.

                  Get this fitness tracker!

                  9. Fitbit Inspire HR

                    For a strong 24-hour fitness tracker, another worthy candidate is Fitbit’s Inspire HR brands. Like many of the Fitbit’s products, it tracks a wide variety of things like calories, heart rate, and sleep. It also tracks other fitness activities with ease like swimming, biking, fast walking, and running.

                    Naturally, there are some downsides as well, though they are minor. From things like a short charge cable to inaccurate tracking of steps, these things come with the territory of fitness trackers.

                    Get this fitness tracker!

                    10. FITFORT

                      The final fitness tracker we went over is the Fitfort. It’s a cheaper alternative to the other fitness trackers listed here, but it also comes with some unique perks. The biggest of which is that it can measure blood pressure along with other aspects of your personal health, too.

                      But like other cheap options, you do run the risk of the product breaking down after a while. For some customers, it went downhill in about five months. You may have better luck, but if you’re looking for something that lasts longer, you might want to look at other brands.

                      Get this fitness tracker!

                      Final Thoughts

                      Setting aside minor issues, there are many solid options for good fitness trackers to help you out with weight loss and improving your health. If you’re still torn on what to choose, go for a device that is compatible with your other devices, especially your phone.

                      More Fitness Tips

                      Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

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