There’s a cardinal training sin that most of you are guilty of. Not those cheated half-reps. Nor your ‘miscalculated’ macros. We’re talking about neglecting your local pool.
As the Olympic games repeatedly prove — with Michael Phelps’ gargantuan body and equally sizeable medal haul as support — when it comes to sculpting an enviable physique and increasing fitness levels, swimming is hard to beat. Long-winded, steady-state cardio, this is not: even a short turn in the pool provides a fat-torching, muscle-building, metabolism-firing workout for your entire body. Swap out one of your weekly gym sessions to #Make1KWet and you’ll glean these lengthy benefits…
You won’t get injured
Once you’ve adjusted to your new surroundings, the swimming pool is a haven when it comes to addressing niggling injuries. As the majority of your body is in constant use throughout a swim, you can build up strength without worrying about causing further injury, working often neglected muscles in the process.
You can eradicate muscle imbalances
Watch a professional swimmer working out and you’ll notice that their upper-body and lower-body strength is almost identical. It’s no coincidence. If you want a V-shape to rival that of Phelps, with Ronaldo-esque ‘wings’ and Hoy-worthy quads, then you need to make a splash.
You can torch calories
Think pavement-pounding is the best way to eradicate calories? Time to swap out your trainers and get real. According to the journal Medicine and Sports in Science and Exercise, swimming holds the potential to torch more calories on a minute-by-minute basis than running. During a hard 40-minute workout in the pool, for example, you can burn over 1,000 calories.
You’ll build lean, powerful muscle
How are your box-jumps looking? If you want real, explosive power, with the muscle to match, you need to spend more time in the pool. Not only will your six-pack start to show, the density of the water — which is, roughly, 800x more than that of air*— will give your muscles a not-so-insignificant challenge, providing a consistent resistance pattern that will tone up your muscles quicker than you can say ‘high intensity interval workout’.
You can bust office-based stress
Is the boss breathing down your neck? Are you down on your numbers? If you’re looking to reset your mind and leave your 9-5 paper-pushing persona at work (where it belongs), then swimming, as ever, can help. Research has found that hitting the pool was comparable to yoga in terms of reducing anxiety and stress over a 12-week period.