Two Swim Training Strategies in Your Quest For the “Swimmer Body” (Part 2 of 3)
By Jenni Brozena, MS, CSCS, CES
Owner/President of Aqueous
Part 1 of this series explored the effectiveness of swimming for weight loss. Here, we consider practical strategies to build a regular swimming weight-loss regimen.
We learned last week that swimming for weight loss is an excellent strategy. Let’s look at two approaches to see which can most effectively help you to lose weight by swimming.
But First, a Recap
While weight loss requires fewer calories, we also learned that athletes require special nutritional instruction in which caloric intake is sufficient to promote recovery.
Swimming is such an effective form of exercise for two reasons:
Both large and small muscles groups are used continuously throughout the exercise.
Training styles vary widely so there is ongoing opportunity to avoid plateaus.
The body requires continuous changes in stimulation in order to reach new levels of strength, speed, and efficiency. That’s why some people hit plateaus in weight loss or other fitness progress: they keep doing the same exercise. Cycling through prescribed exercise programs, switching it up to keep it fresh and achieve your aims, is called “periodization.”
Periodization can be broken down into long-term cycles (“macrocycles” lasting 4-6 weeks) and shorter “microcycles” lasting no more than 2 weeks. Structured periodization – each period focusing on a specific goal, such as energy strengthening, speed and agility, and especially important, rest – can support incredibly effective results for weight loss or high-level competitive performance.
In swimming training, periodization traditionally follows the competitive swimming season – one giant “macrocycle,” if you will.
- Preseason and the first few weeks of training are to build a cardio base.
- Faster training and swim meets follow.
- This leads into high-intensity training over the winter holidays
- A slow decent follows until we find the holy grail….
Evidence-based periodization is much more sophisticated than this extended macrocycle, which is why employing a sport scientist and human performance coach are so vital.
HIIT is the acronym for “high-intensity interval training,” which has gained incredible popularity in gyms and other performance arenas across the U.S.
Interval training is characterized by short bursts of exercise followed by brief periods of rest. The “high intensity” is the level of effort to complete the exercises, which typically use fast, explosive movements (as in ballistic or plyometric training) to boost the heart rate and deliver a high rate of perceived exertion.
HIIT is an excellent training style to incorporate into a complete periodized training program. But it is challenging, so it’s not for beginners. A foundational base (i.e. taking your fitness to an intermediate level) should be established to reduce your risk of injury.
…or Reverse it?
Reverse periodization is the new kid on the block, and it’s picking up lots of attention. Simply put, reverse periodization incorporates many intervals of training styles from the very beginning without an extended period in cardio building.
Results have been mixed in the research across many sports. But the concept has become controversial to more traditional coaches; they’ve raised eyebrows at the vast amount of positive performance outcomes with decreased injury and burnout rates.
You want to lose weight? Dive into the pool and make healthy food choices! The exercise will speed up your metabolism and, sooner than you think, you’ll find yourself understanding the “swimmer’s diet.”
You want to take just one more stroke closer to having the chiseled swimmer physique? Start designing your workouts in a periodized manner to keep your body peaking and resting.