Go for the gold

When Michael Phelps won the ridiculous amount of gold in the Olympics, people started to think that swimming could really benefit them.  I thought the same thing and I was right!  It is such a great full body exercise without the high impact of running.  Now, I have to admit, my cardio is not great by any means, but swimming has helped tremendously.  Unlike running, swimming works your whole body, without the joint pain from running. 

Doing laps in the pool helps build muscle, specifically, moto muscles.  Although your arms and legs do a lot of the work, your core is vital to swimming.  The abs, obliques and lower back get an excellent workout from the side to side motion between strokes.  This is very helpful in motocross because your core is what keeps you in the attack position.  Not only your core, but your shoulders and upper back down to your hips, legs and groin become more developed. 

I'm sure Phelps could bust out a 20 minute moto...Additionally, you also work on both aerobic and anaerobic heart rate areas.  If you would like to work on your endurance, take it slow and bust out a few hundred meters.  Then, take a rest, and then do a few sprints to get your anaerobic workout. Both your “slow twitch” and “fast twitch” muscle fibers can be utilized.  Slow twitch is associated with long distance, cardio emphasized workouts and fast twitch is for explosive power.  Getting back to the impact level of swimming, you can tell that the chances of injury are quite low.  The water provides plenty of resistance, 800 times more than air to be exact, without putting strain on the joints, unlike running.  So, if you have experienced an injury in training, swimming could be a great alternative to cycling or other forms of cardio based workouts. 

It is a good idea to swim a couple times a week.  I know this may sound like a lot, but it is crucial to maintain your form and after a while, it won’t be a workout, but just something you do for fun.  There are a few, simple techniques to get down in order to get the most out of the workout.  First, keep your head down.  You want to have an axis from your head to your toes that you rotate side to side.  When you reach out with your hands, reach as far as possible.  Keep your abs and lower back tight, as this will prevent you from dragging your lower half in the water.  Next, when you do reach, keep your elbow at a right angle (90 degrees) in the water when you stroke.  You almost want to be scooping the water, like a shovel.  You want to pull your body, not throw yourself forward.

A couple more things to remember is that when you have one arm in the water, pointing down and pulling you, the other hand should be up and ready for the water.  Also, kick between strokes and keep your feet flexible.  This ensures that you have some propulsion between the strokes of your arms, as this maintains speed and momentum.  If you are a beginner, breathe after every stroke; that is, when your arm comes up, look to the side and take a breath before your head goes back under.  When your endurance improves, you can breathe every three strokes. 

This is just a guideline for the basics.  I’ll have some workouts for endurance and anaerobic areas.  I am a fan of variety, as I can get stale on a workout pretty quick, so this is something that is definitely different.  Try a few hundred meters to get the feel for it and see how you like it.


Posted on Aug 01 2009, under Training | 1 Comment »


One Response to “Go for the gold”

  1. Sounds like a great all around workout…Ill have to put it into my workout

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