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Swimming Fit Friday: Accessory Workouts

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday we are going to discuss building strength through cross training in the gym instead of the pool and why you can’t always do your favorite exercises!

Many of us areSwimming Fit Friday guilty of focusing on our favourite or well-known exercises for long duration of time as our only workout. Examples of commonly known exercises would be squats, deadlifts, and bicep curls. Our bodies are composed of multiple muscle groups, and these muscle groups work together to accomplish an exercise. We mitigate our ability to develop strength when we focus on one muscle group.

Performing the same behavior, but expecting the outcome to change, is the definition of insanity (Albert Einstein may have also been an athlete?). The body requires versatility in order to develop. When I started lifting I too was guilty of this. I was doing squats as a solo activity, hoping I’d eventually surpass my plateau of 90lbs. For months, I was unable to surpass this weight limit, as I was repeating the same workout routine. Then one day it hit me, my problem was a lack of training any accessory muscle groups! In simple words, I wasn’t working on any of the muscles that were supposed to help me squat this weight.

I started to do different exercises to build the rest of my muscle groups.

To list a few:Swimming Fit Friday

  • Walking lunges or Farmers carries
  • Glute and Hamstring raises
  • Hip Thrust
  • Prowler Pushers

I also started to do exercises that focus on smaller muscle groups such as glute medius and minimus. For you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Using a microband to add resistance. Step inside the band with both feet and fasten around each ankle. Stand in a wide sports stance (or squat), knees slightly bent, toes pointed straight ahead and hands on hips or out in front. Step out to the side and continue walking sideways as if you were a crab.

Swimming Fit FridayThough these exercises are less exciting to post to Instagram, they are key in helping you bridge the gap in your muscle development. Giving you the assist you need to develop your strength!

If you’re still struggling to develop strength, check out my other articles on progressive overload, and the F.I.T.T principles. Until next Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Progressing Butterfly

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday is an Advanced Tip! As we progress throughout swimming, we challenge ourselves to learn more complicated strokes, and more competitive and competition oriented strokes. If this is where your interest lies, look more into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program. The Link is provided below:

http://aquafunacademy.ca/asac/

Butterfly is one of the most co-ordination heavy strokes, similar to breaststroke. However butterfly also requires well-conditioned upper body strength, and flexible shoulder mobility. This stroke can be learned in steps, and for today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will focus on the head position associated with the butterfly.

To perform butterfly correctly the swimmer should maintain that they look downward towards the bottom of the pool. Let’s look at some different methods to practice this key aspect of the skill.
Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout.Swimming Tip Tuesday

Equipment:

  • 6 rings (an alternative to rings would be following the dark black line down the middle of the pool).
  • Flippers, to perform butterfly or alternatively Dolphin Kick

Use of Equipment:

  • Rings
  • Flippers

Action: Perform butterfly OR dolphin kick

Emphasis: Focus on following the line or rings down the pool.

Distance: Repeat for 50m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 25m.

Swimming Tip TuesdayReason: The activity of following the rings or the line down the pool will encourage the body to remember this position and store it in muscle memory when practicing butterfly while focusing on other elements.

How can I tell if I’m performing butterfly properly? Get a buddy. Swimming with a buddy helps us to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Get your buddy to watch you from two angles. Have your buddy stand at the opposite end of the lane to see if you deviate and look forwards at them. A second vantage point would be to swim in the lane closest to a wall and have your buddy watch you from the side. What your buddy is looking for is how far forward or downwards you hold your head throughout the stroke.

Tip Summary:

Swimming butterfly correctly requires you to keep your head set solidly in a downward-facing position.

Well that’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

 

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Swimming Fit Friday: Visualization

On this week’s Swimming Fit Friday, we will explore the uses of visualization in relation to exercise. As a bonus we will also explain how this tool promotes success in activities unrelated to athletics.

Imagine if you will, a world in which you have control over your body. Oh wait, for many of us this is a reality! Our motor functions and our thoughts are programed and executed through the pink squishy matter sitting in our heads. The brain has the power to practice and solve problems using only our subconscious mind. Athletes and businessmen alike have taken advantage of this function and turned it into a tool for success.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Jennifer Abel from Canada’s Olympic diving team performing a tuck.

Through visualization we can activate motor functions and practice sequences without actively doing them. When you imagine diving into a pool in great detail the brain will fire low-level signals to the muscle groups involved in diving. From our toes curling over the edge of the pool, our arms swinging to the sides of our head, to our fingers breaking the surface of the water upon entry. But why do this?

The simple answer is fatigue. Physical fatigue will inhibit us from practicing. Mental fatigue takes more time to develop, and as a result of that we can leverage our ability to visualize when we cannot physically practice.

How do you apply visualization properly? If you are struggling to do a skill, rehearsing the wrong way will not benefit you.

  1. Find a video of someone executing the skill properly then watch it repeatedly and think about doing the exact same movement.
  2. You want to focus your mind in the positive “you can” and “you will” execute this move perfectly.
  3. Find a quiet room and sit eyes closed for 30 minutes and imagine you are the individual you just watched and visualize yourself performing that movement.

Studies show that visualization in conjunction with practice increases your rate of improvement by 10-15 percent.

How does this apply to the world of business, or other less athletic activities? Visualization can help us build desirable habits. By spending 10 to 30 minutes everyday visualizing a desired behavior we can slowly change how we operate on a day to day basis.

Whether you want to change your behaviors, or tackle a new skill, remember to start slow and use your smart goals and milestones to help evaluate if you’re making progress with your skills. Until next Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl Workout

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we will discuss coordinated breathing during Back Crawl. This article will also include 1 basic workout you can use in your free time to help perfect this beautiful stroke!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmer breathing out as they break the surface during Back Crawl.

One of the fundamental skills of swimming comes from understanding rhythm, because every movement has a rhythm. These rhythms work together to move us along the water in the same way notes on a staff do for a song.

A breath is taken every time an arm completes a full cycle. Try breathing in as one arm passes your ear and exhale as the other arm passes. When beginning Back Crawl, the arms start in opposition to each other. With one above the head, and the other by the hip the swimmer is going to breathe in as the arm that was closest to the hip passes by the ear.

As a beginner, syncing up our breathing with our movement will be difficult, in particular with the inclusion of the arms. The following drill is going to simplify our movement keep us within streamline position and provide the swimmer with an opportunity to sync their breathing.

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl Workout:

  • Progression 1 will focus on body timing.
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Swimmers in streamline position, before rotating onto their backs.

The swimmer will breathe normally and start by performing back glide. Ever six kicks, the swimmer will roll their body so one shoulder has popped out of the water. Alternating the shoulder every six kicks. Perform for a distance 25m-50m

  • Progression 2 will sync our breathing.

Performing Back Glide still alternating the shoulders every six kicks, the swimmer will inhale slowly for six kicks as the first shoulder rises, and exhale slowly for six kicks as the first shoulder falls and the second shoulder rises. Perform for a distance of 200m-300m

A follow up to these progressions is listed below as extra, be aware that it will utilize the arms, and challenge the swimmer to maintain streamline position.

  • Extra progression 3 will add the arms.

Instead of rolling the shoulders the swimmer will move rotate the arms, ever six kicks. Maintaining the same breathing pattern listed in progression 2. Perform for a distance of 200-300m

Keep in mind these progressions are used to help us develop rhythm, to produce a smoother and more controlled stroke.

Well that’s all for this weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday

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This weeks’ Swimming Fit Friday – Goal Setting

This weeks’ Swimming Fit Friday we are going to talk Goal Setting and getting started.

Well into our second month of 2018, congratulations you made it! For those us of who were quick to make up new years resolutions, maybe some of us have fallen off the horse. On the other hand some of us may be late to making major changes. If this is you, there’s no time like the present. A good friend of mine said it’s good to start things on a Monday, keeping that in mind we’ll spark a fire to get active on a Fit Friday, prep over the weekend and hit the ground running on Motivation Monday!

SMART, that’s the acronym those of us working to be successful follow. Take the time to read these questions provided by the SMART acronym when that light bulb goes off.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday:
Alex and Eamon going over SMART goals with their swimmers.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: What do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable: Is this goal something you can measure?
  • Attainable: Can you accomplish this goal?
  • Relevant: Does this goal add value?
  • Time: What is the time frame we are going to do this in, and is it reasonable?

It is through this method we filter our ideas and get specific, and start to make real progress. Take this tool and share your SMART goal with someone you care about, hold yourself accountable to your goals. Through sharing we are now accountable to ourselves and those we shared it with.

 

 

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Swimmer practicing Front Crawl.

Let’s look at an example:

S – Swim Freestyle 100m in under 2:00m

M – Yes, because we can use a timer to verify success

A – Yes, because I know how to perform basic Freestyle

R – I am training for ASAC

T – The ASAC meet is in 4 months

Understanding that this is where we want to be in 4 months time, we can add milestones throughout our journey. This can be checked at the end of each practice, or at the end of each month. Having Milestones in addition to our SMART allow us to re-evaluate our plans to attain this goal.

We’ll that’s all for this weeks Swimming Fit Friday. All the best!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Front Crawl: Avoiding Drag.

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we will discuss how to avoid ‘drag’ when performing Flutter Kick, specifically during Front Crawl.

Before we get right down to it, lets quickly review what drag is. Drag is the force that pulls the body backwards as we swim. It comes into effect when the body exits streamline position. Understanding that one does not swim only in streamline position, the swimmer learns to use the water to move forward.Natation Conseil Mardi

A common beginner mistake when kicking is to kick from the knees down. However the as a swimmer you want to utilize the whole leg. Focusing on the action and generating momentum at the hips. Using the larger muscles in the leg to generate power.

Swimming Tip TuesdayFor those who cannot make it to a pool here is a way to practice generating force from this hip on land. To practice this one can stand on a stool or on the stairs so there is a handrail to assist for balance. Standing sideways with one hand on the rail, swing the one of the legs back and forth focusing on the movement of the hip initially keeping the whole leg straight. Still swinging back and forth, focus on the up swing, remembering that the swimmers body will be face down throughout the stroke. The swimmer will start by pushing down on the thigh and then flicking the ankle up. The emphasis on the whole motion, the leg should look like a small controlled wave. While the most pressure should be on your feet, also move your whole legs in small, steady motion.

Translate this action into the Flutter kick, focusing on feeling a wave run down the leg from the hip to the toes. Another method of practice is to add flippers and focus on the same movement. The elongation of the leg due to the addition of the flippers forces the swimmer exaggerate the wave motion.

That’s all for this week until next Swimming Tip Tuesday.Swiming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Butterfly Workouts

This weeks’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will analyze and critique Butterfly. Butterfly, requires a large amount of upper body strength, unlike Front Crawl, one cannot over compensate with the use of a strong kick, to make it through stroke, for this is a skill for the advanced swimmer.

The base of Butterfly is the dolphin kick, alternating between the use of one big kick, and one smaller kick as the arms pull and recover. The legs move in unison, to mimic the tail of a Dolphin. This helps to propel the body forward, however with various bends in the body as the swimmer kicks, can cause the swimmer to sink lower and lower under the surface of the water.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Recovery

To mitigate sinking as a result of the changes in our kick, we utilize the positioning of the upper body as well as momentum generated from the legs; specifically the arms. The arms sweep down drawing the shape of a keyhole, palms pushing through the water to lunge the body forward, as the arms come up over the head is when we must relax. This is our recovery phase, as we relax the angle of our chest rising through this movement will bring the legs up towards the surface of the water – giving us room to kick again.

Simply put: During the recovery phase, relax and let your chest position force your legs to rise to the top of the water.

Knowing is half the battle, how do we practice this so it becomes natural? Check out the training methods listed below:

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 1:

Equipment: pool buoy.

Use of Equipment: put the pool buoy in between your legs, specifically between the thighs.

Action: Perform arms only Butterfly.

Emphasis: Focus on relaxing the chest after the breathe in your recovery phase.

Distance: Repeat for 100m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 50m.

Reason: The use of the pool buoy will keep the swimmers legs at the surface of the water. Allowing the swimmer to focus on the arm motion and relaxation of the chest.

Swimming Tip Tuesday Workout 2:

Equipment: Flippers.

Use of Equipment: Put flippers on feet.

Action: Perform Butterfly.

Emphasis: Focus on the flippers reaching or breaking the surface water, one the chest has relaxed in the recovery phase.

Distance: Repeat 200m – 300m, 30 seconds of rest in between each 100m.

Reason: The flipper adds to the length of the legs, cause the swimmer to focus on generating enough power with the arms during the pull phase, to bring the chest to the appropriate position. This will use of the flippers will also allow the swimmer to perform longer distances, as the flippers will also add additional propulsion power.

That’s all for this week, until next Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday Front Crawl Speed and Power

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday will dive a little deeper into building our power as we do Front Crawl which will ultimately assist with our overall speed of the stroke. Despite swimming being a full body exercise, an area often neglected by swimmers is developing upper body strength. Fortunately for most swimmers, when sharpening our technique we can also enhance our upper body strength, with that said, let’s dive in.

Swimming Fit FridayWhat we want to remember: that the swimmer should not start pulling their arm back until they give themselves enough room to reach forward under the water. Here’s why, extending the arm as far forward as the swimmer can allows for a longer opportunity to generate power. The longer pull builds musculature within the biceps and triceps.

When performing Front Crawl the step before recovery (when the arm exits the water) is to pull the hand past the hip to propel the body forward. If the distance between reaching forward and pulling back is shorter, the swimmer will generate less power.

Less power generated from the arms will force the swimmer to rely heavily on strength from their legs. This is only optimal if the swimmer is performing a Front Glide. Movement of the arms out of the water brings the body out of a streamline position. When the arms are misused, or used incorrectly this slows the swimmer down. The purpose of utilizing the arms during a stroke like Front Crawl is meant to assist rather than burden the lower body. It creates a more effective opportunity to generate power, and propulsion as well as opportunities for breathing.Swimming Tip Tuesday

As a swimmer becomes more advance the addition of ‘S’ pull will allow the swimmer to generate much more power. As the swimmer is performing Front Crawl, there will be a longer and longer moment of forward movement in between each pull phase, due to the propulsion.

To Summarize, reach for the stars, or this case as far forward as you can before each and every pull!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Don’t Start pulling your arm back until you give yourself room to reach forward under the water.

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Swimming Fit Friday: Progressive Overload

Todays’ Swimming Fit Friday, will discuss progressive overload. This builds off of our last Swimming Fit Friday post, in which we discussed the use of the F.I.T.T Principle. Playing around with its various components and understanding how they work.

Below we have highlighted the key points of the F.I.T.T Principle.

F.I.T.T stands for:Swimming Fit Friday

  • Frequency: the number of repetitions, or times a week.
  • Intensity: The speed or resistance used to perform an exercise
  • Time: The duration one spends performing an exercise
  • Type of Exercise: How does it challenge the muscle group

Lastly:

  • When performing our exercises it is KEY to maintain ones form, bad form is an opportunity for injury! Continual posture checks throughout ones workout help to keep one in good form.

For a full review of the article click this link: http://aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-fit-friday-f-t-t-principles/

What is progressive overload?

Without change one cannot grow. This is especially true in regards to working out. To perform the same routine and expect our body to grow and develop continuously is very misguided.

In order to challenge the body to develop, the use progressive overload is employed by all trainers. Lets look at it in the form of an example:

If one decided to swim 50 lengths once a week, the body will eventually find this easy to do.

What are ways in which we can keep these 50 lengths difficult?

Below we have listed 4 ways in which you can employ the use of progressive overload.Swimming Fit Friday

  • We can swim 50 lengths twice a week.
  • We can swim 50 lengths arms only or legs only
  • We can swim 50 lengths in 20mins
  • We can do a more difficult stroke or less practiced stroke for 50 lengths.

Those are some ways in which we can employ the use of progressive overload. Eventually these adjustments will become easy and we will have to alter them to allow the body to continue to progress in strength speed, and efficiency. Try on your own to employ the use of progressive overload into your routines and enjoy the benefits of exercise, until next time!

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Swimming Fit Friday: F.I.T.T Principles

For today’s Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss personal fitness within the realm of aquatics. Specifically the F.I.T.T principles and how to apply it to your life both in and outside of the pool!

F.I.T.T Stands for:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Time
  • Type of Exercise

When looking at exercise guidelines, it is recommended to exercise 3-4 times a week for, a duration of 60 minutes. Knowing this a common theme is that 3-4 times a week for 60 minutes is not something that fits nicely into everyones’ schedule. If one is blissfully unaware of the F.I.T.T principle one often sees exercise as an ultimatum. As a result many of us go without exercising. Lack of exercise can lead too poor or worse health, lack of motivation and drive, lowered self-esteem, and high levels of stress. Finding a way to get exercise into your schedule really works wonders for the individual and all those they are connected too.

To get more out of our day, we can increase the frequency in which we work out, to twice a day for 15 minutes. It is easier to find small windows of time. Another example would be 15 minutes of a high intensity workout 3 times a week. In which we increased both the frequency and intensity.

Understanding this means we know that one does not want to exercise at a leisurely pace, with your increased exercise frequency, reduced time period, you need to increase the intensity of the workout. This helps us reap similar benefits as if we were to follow the recommended guidelines. Making modifications to our exercise routine with the use of the F.I.T.T principle, helps us to achieve our exercise goals!

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: A person performing water running with assistance of a buoyancy belt.

Intensity can be adjusted in various ways. For example:

  • Running 10, 100m sprints, instead of jogging a mile. Would be an increase in intensity.
  • Water running, instead of running on a treadmill, you’ve increased resistance and therefore increased the intensity.
  • Holding a push up, and performing an isometric hold. Check the link below for a quick 20 seconds demo!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqAjyXjfQpc

  • In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, or dumbbells to work against buoyancy. When performing a push down, as shown by the woman in the photo underneath to the right.
    Swimming Fit Friday

    Swimming Fit Friday: a woman performing push down with the use of a buoyancy resistance tool, called dumbbells.

Swimming Fit Friday

Swimming Fit Friday: Swimmers in a deep water aquafit class, using the noodles to increase the resistance in their arm action. Buoyancy belts are a common tool for deep water aquafit.

Intensity can also be coupled with the concept of exercise type. For example, you can do crunches or you can hold a 5pound medicine ball to increase the load while performing sit-ups. Similar exercise, higher intensity! In an aquatic situation you can perform with only body weight or add the addition of a noodle, to work against buoyancy.

 

Well that’s all for todays’ Swimming Fit Friday, and the F.I.T.T principles! Until Next Time!

P.S Remember when performing our exercises it is KEY to maintain ones form, bad form is an opportunity for injury! Continual posture checks throughout ones workout help to keep one in good form.