There is no secret that swimming is a great way to work out and get in shape in a space that won’t cause you to work up a sweat and won’t put any stress on your bones and joints. Swimming is ideal for cardio and even better — everything you do in the pool feels like fun — not a workout — and what could be better than that?
Good swim techniques are built on the swimmer having a strong core and strong core muscles. Strong core muscles are also what will help you — as you age — to not stumble or fall, be able to get out of a chair and help keep your balance. Work on your core and improve strength while you swim and you don’t even have to invest in any special equipment or do any convoluted swim routines.
Core stability is all about an individual having a strong core – stomach and back muscles – that lead to having core stability. This core stability is also a topic of conversation among aging adults and their healthcare providers.
How can you build your core?
- Squeezing your buttock muscles
- Swimming in long strokes (breast stroke, the crawl)
A good swim technique is both fluid and relaxed. Regardless of how smooth and fluid your movements are, you are working your core throughout your swimming of laps or even playing in the pool.
Strengthening Your Core Through Swimming
Try these in-pool exercises to strengthen your core and swim with fluidity and grace. Try to visualize your body as having a piece of string stretched from your pelvis to your rib cage; visualize it as being taut as you swim.
- Engage your lower core muscles when you swim. Stretch tall and long while you swim. Bring your rib cage away from your pelvis and elongate your entire body. When you stretch tall through your core you will strengthen your torso. Keep envisioning the string in your body as you swim.
- Visualize that you’re holding a large coin between your butt cheeks! We know, it sounds odd, but this visualization helps keep you focused and keeps the muscles engaged. When you’re swimming, you want to focus on keeping the imaginary coin trapped. Don’t clench overly tight or you might cramp up. When you squeeze your butt and engage your glute muscles you will find more power in your kick and may even see your kick getting stronger. The more you do this type of exercise, the more your mind will connect with it and it will feel like second nature.
- If you work in an office or find yourself sitting more hours of the day than you do standing, you need to focus on your posture throughout the day. Sitting up straight will require you to engage your core muscles to keep you sitting straight and tall. Don’t slouch. Focus on keeping your shoulders held back and down. Good posture is great for your health outside of the pool and will help you swim with more stability when you’re in the water.
- To swim smoothly and add to your core stability you will want to work on your upper posture and strengthen your shoulders. To do this you will want to focus on the muscles between your shoulder blades. Pull your shoulder blades together and back, bring them in toward your spine. This is an important swim exercise as it focuses on your upper core strength.
Who cares about posture when you’re in the pool?
If you haven’t given your posture much thought you should and here’s why.
- You expend less energy when you’re swimming laps if you swim straight and have more arm strength which will keep you from “rolling” when you switch arms during strokes.
- A better body roll will develop when you have better core strength. Body roll gives you a more powerful swim stroke.
- When you have a strong upper body and strong inner core strength your arm strokes are more in tune with your body movement. This means you are using your whole body to propel yourself through the pool instead of just your arms and legs.
Why focus on core workouts
You can work on your core at the gym or focus more fully on your core when you’re in the pool swimming laps. Every time you’re in the pool you don’t have to focus on core strength and swimming laps, you will want to have fun, as well. But if you’re looking to swim laps, burn calories, get in shape and have a great cardio workout, core strength will help you do just that.