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Kicking Your Swimming to Higher Gear

With access to budget-friendly gym pricesat popular gyms such as Anytime Fitness and the membership privileges that come from paying them, especially access to the swimming pools, there’s no excuse not to kick your swimming to higher gear! Here are ways that you can do so.  

Use Your Back Muscles More 

Most beginner swimmers think that the most active muscles when swimming are in the arms, legs and chest. But this isn’t so and if you want to take your swimming up a notch, you should use your back muscles more! This is especially true when doing freestyle where many people mistakenly use their arm strength in pulling them along.  

While the arms and legs have crucial roles in swimming, the back muscles have their important roles, too. Think about it: If you emerge from the water with aching triceps and shoulders, then there’s a high chance that you’re not using your latissimus dorsi muscles (i.e., lats). 

These are the middle back muscles that become more evident when your push your hands together in front of the lower part of your chest. When you do, your lats are flexed and you can feel their power.  

The lats play a significant role in your pulling ability. You are flexing and using your lats starting from the time you enter the water and then until your hand pushes past your chest. 

Tip: Do pull-ups, the most effective way of strengthening your lats. 

Get Past Your Mental Barrier 

You may be your own worst enemy! You may, for example, be hesitant about going faster or slower, about changing your techniques, or about engaging in high intensity interval training. Whatever the reason, you have to get past your mental barrier if you want to push your physical limits. 

You can start by breaking down your goal into smaller – and, thus, more manageable and achievable – targets. For example, if your long-term goal is to lose 15 kilos of weight over a six-month period, then you can break it down to about a kilo lost per week. You will find it easier to strive for a kilo than 15 kilos, a matter of tricking your mind.  

You must also try changing your routine, perhaps by changing your speed and stroke, perhaps by adopting HIIT methods, or perhaps by shortening or lengthening the duration of your workouts. You should structure your workouts into distinct sets, too, which will mean more effective and enjoyable workouts. 

You likely also have physical barriers keeping you from stepping up your game. You shouldn’t push your body past its limits and into unsafe territory since it can worsen existing injuries, if any. You have to accept your current physical limitations and find ways of coping with them without setting yourself back by too much. 

For example, if you have a weak shoulder due to a past injury, you should work on it alongside proper rehab work. You should ask your swimming instructor about the best ways to make your strokes more fluid while also accepting the fact, for now, that your stride will be less balanced than it should be. 

Ask the swimming instructor if your gym membership already includes swimming instruction aside from access to the pools. If it is, then you should take advantage by asking questions about ways to kick your swimming prowess up a notch! 

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