Where Does Swimming Fit?

Where do you guys see swimming in your programs?

Great, no impact, intense (if done right) cardio.

I think it’s great. Used to do it as a cool down. I really got into it and started swimming about a mile. Helped me lose weight and it’s low to no impact. The only downside is it can take along time to burn the same cals as running. All the cal counters will tell you swimming is harder AT A GIVEN PACE THAT NO BODY BUT A COMPETITOR CAN KEEP UP WITH.

[quote]tweaker wrote:
Where do you guys see swimming in your programs?[/quote]

Swimming fits into my program on a Sunday during the football season. I find light swimming, water running and stretching an excellent recovery method.

I’ll also throw some water sessions in during the off season if I am getting sorer than usual by the end of the training week.

You definetly use it as a low impact source of aerobic or anaerobic training.

For me and my team, it is used only for recovery techniques.

I would put swimming on off days, or seperate weight and swimming into am training and pm training.

Right after jumping in…and just before getting out of the pool.

Interesting thing is that studies have shown that while swimming is great exercise, one should not do it for fat loss.

[i]The truth about swimming and weight loss…

Swimming is often touted as the best form of exercise for weight loss. And when you think about it, it seems to make sense.

After all, swimming uses almost all of your major muscle groups. It places a vigorous demand on your heart and lungs. Swimming is also popular with people who are extremely overweight, pregnant, or suffering from some kind of injury.

When you swim breastroke or backstroke, you’re burning about the same number of calories as a fast walk or a slow jog. However, for some reason, swimming appears to be less effective than other forms of exercise at promoting weight loss.
Swimming weight loss

Research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine shows that in the absence of a controlled diet, swimming has little or no effect on weight loss [1].

Professor Grant Gwinup compared three exercise programs for three months. Each program began with up to 10 minutes of daily exercise. The length of each workout was increased by five minutes every week.

? Test subjects following the walking program lost 17 pounds of weight during the three-month study.

? Those following the cycling program lost 19 pounds of weight.

? However, subjects following the swimming program actually gained 5 pounds.

Assuming that all three groups burned a similar number of calories, the swimmers must have compensated by eating more. “Presumably,” speculates Professor Gwinup, “swimming in cold water stimulates the appetite to increase caloric consumption.”

Professor Louise Burke, Head of Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport, also points out that competitive swimmers typically have body fat levels that are higher than those of runners or cyclists who expend a similar amount of energy when they train.

“Many female swimmers have fought well-publicized battles with their body fat levels,” says Burke. “They are generally prescribed ‘land training’ (running or cycling) in addition to their many laps of the pool in the belief that it is a necessary treatment to produce lower skinfold levels.”
Appetite

There are suggestions that swimming doesn’t cause the same drop in appetite that accompanies heavy running and cycling training. Many people feel extremely hungry after training in the pool, and may simply replace all the calories they’ve burned with a large post-exercise meal.

“Many people observe that they feel like ‘eating a horse’ after they have finished a swim training session, and may overcompensate for the energy they have just burned,” says Professor Burke.

“Some research suggests that this is due to the cool temperatures in which swimmers train. By contrast, runners and cyclists usually experience an increase in body temperature during training, which may serve to suppress appetite - at least in the short term.”

In one recent study, researchers examined the effect of water temperature on calorie intake after exercise [3].

A group of 11 men exercised for 45 minutes in “neutral” and “cold” water temperatures. After the workout, they were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted.

The men burned a similar number of calories in the cold and neutral water conditions, averaging 505 and 517 calories, respectively. However, calorie intake after exercise in the cold water averaged 877 calories, which was 44% more than for the neutral temperature. The problem here is that the water temperature during the “cold” condition was extremely cold (20 degrees celsius), and isn’t really indicative of the water temperature of most pools (which is usually nearer 30 degrees celsius).

Professor Burke also points out that swimmers are less active outside their training sessions. They are so tired from the hours spent training that they sleep, sit or otherwise avoid any real physical activity outside their sessions.

In one study, researchers compared collegiate swimmers and collegiate distance runners [2]. As you can see in the table below, the runners had lower body fat levels than swimmers. However, detailed three-day food records and one-day activity records offered no convincing explanation as to why.

       Swimmers   Runners

Men 12% 7%
Women 20% 15%

According to Professor Burke, it’s almost impossible to measure usual energy intake from diaries.

“Apart from the errors in translating descriptions of food into calorie counts,” she says, “it is unlikely that people eat ‘normally’ while they are recording. It is well-known that those who are conscious of their body fat underreport their food intake.”

“In reporting, athletes try to appear as ‘good’ as possible and thereby cover-up the clues to any energy balance problems. The behavior of individuals may also be masked by the ‘averaging’ of results.”

Burke also speculates that elite swimmers are predisposed to higher body fat levels because it is a help, or at least less of a disadvantage, to their swimming - rounded shoulders and smooth curves may simply be more biomechanically sound than bony angles.
Muscle

One of the reasons a properly designed weight-training program is so effective at burning fat is that just one workout can give your metabolic rate a real boost. In some cases, this rise can last for well over a day [4].

When your metabolic rate goes up, you burn more calories. And more calories burned means faster weight loss.

One of the things that contribute to this rise in metabolic rate is the muscle damage caused during resistance exercise [5]. And it’s eccentric muscle actions (pronounced ee-sen-trick) that appear to cause most of this damage.

What’s an eccentric muscle action?

Take one hand and let it hang down by your side. Now, bend your arm as if you were curling a weight, bringing your hand towards your shoulder.

The muscle that’s working to raise your arm is the biceps (other smaller muscles are also working to assist it). The movement is known as a concentric muscle action (pronounced con-sen-trick).

If you lower your arm under control (rather than just letting it flop down) your biceps are working again. Only this time, the muscle action is called eccentric.

So, what does all of this have to do with swimming? Most of the work your body does in the water involves concentric muscle actions. There’s virtually no eccentric work there at all. Because of this, I’m guessing that swimming has only a minor impact on your metabolic rate after exercise.

The bottom line

I prefer to put all forms of exercise into one of three categories - good, better or best.

Any form of exercise, be it swimming, walking or weight-training, is good if the alternative is doing nothing. A mixture of some form of resistance exercise and cardiovascular exercise is better, while combining interval exercise and free weights - in my opinion at least - is the best way to get in shape (see How to fight fat and win in the Members-Only Area for an example of this type of program).

Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you eat. Any form of exercise, swimming included, will get the job done.

If you enjoy swimming, then stick with it. It’s more important to be consistent with an exercise program you enjoy than to be inconsistent with one you hate. Just make sure to guard against the urge to eat more after you get out of the pool.

References

  1. Gwinup, G. (1987). Weight loss without dietary restriction: Efficacy of different forms of aerobic exercise. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 15, 275-279
  2. Jang, K.T., Flynn, M.G., Costill, D.L., Kirwan, J.P., Houmard, J.A., Mitchell, J.B., & D’Acquisto, L.J. (1987). Energy balance in competitive swimmers and runners. Journal of Swimming Research, 3, 19-23
  3. White, L.J., Dressendorfer, R.H., Holland, E., McCoy, S.C., & Ferguson, M.A. (2005). Increased caloric intake soon after exercise in cold water. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 15
  4. Schuenke, M.D., Mikat, R.P., & McBride, J.M. (2002). Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 86, 411-417
  5. Dolezal, B.A., Potteiger, J.A., Jacobsen, D.J., & Benedict, S.H. (2000). Muscle damage and resting metabolic rate after acute resistance exercise with an eccentric overload. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 1202-1207 [/i]

In order to lose fat, I think you’d have to really immerse yourself in swimming. Before I read about G-Flux on this site, I experienced it on my own during my only high school swimming season, where we completed 5 after school swimming sessions per week, three weight training sessions per week, and a Saturday dryland/swimming workout.

The total exercise was usually upwards of 20 hours, and while the program wasn’t exactly brilliantly designed, my bodyfat sank and over the course of the year I put on 10 lbs. I’m guessing my bodyfat went from 10 to 6%, and at the end I only weighed a little over 165 lbs, but it was still the heaviest I had ever weighed up to that point.

I can’t speak about the recovery process, because I experienced constant soreness from swimming and lifting, however after years of swimming and that one serious season, my lung capacity and lat strength are relatively great considering my overall fitness.

A lesser amount of swimming would still lead to a change in body composition in my opinion, but it all depends on how difficult the program is combined with how much you eat.

I am not swimming for weight loss. I only weight 165 at 5’9". My goal is to be 175 by June 2007. I think that is realistic. My other goal is to build up endurance.

After reading the latest article here on bulking, I am going to attempt to bulk clean. The good thing about swimming is that it makes it easy to eat more. Now, I eat clean, so that shouldn’t be a big deal.

Total Immersion is a great book on swimming.

My current workout is:

swim for 30-45 minutes (M through F)
workout for 15-20 minutes (MWF)
run 1-3 miles (MWF)

I do the above back to back. I am trying to improve my endurance and concentrate on my fast twitch muscles.

The workout right now is:

pullups
pushups
dips
ab work
rotator cuff work

I am trying to increase the quantity of the first four every time I workout. I am up to 3x3’s for the pull-ups. And that was tough to get to since I had just swam. I superset the ab work with the push-ups.

Now, my one buddy who lifts said that doing all that cardio would make it harder to gain. And I do agree. However, I have increased my calories to compensate since I still want the cardio benefit.

When February comes along, I will start to integrate weights back into the program and add weight to the above exericses. I will probably stick to just adding lunges, box squats, and deadlifts. Then, I will switch to lower reps as well.

I LOVE swimming! A few months ago, I added going to the gym, and found it has improved my strength and endurance in the pool. Now I’m totally addicted to both. I’ve recently started experimenting with splitting up going to the gym and swimming into separate days, although some days I still do both.

Micki

Despite my above post, I think swinning is awesome as well. What routines do you guys do?

[quote]TheWookie wrote:
Despite my above post, I think swinning is awesome as well. What routines do you guys do?[/quote]

My current approach is to swim sidestroke and attempt to reduce the number of strokes it takes me to get across the pool. And I do this non-stop until I have to rest. Then, I rest for 30 seconds, and I repeat.

At the end of my swim, I do about 4 laps of freestyle. Again, I try to reduce the number of strokes I take to get across the pool. I concentrate on stroke form.

tweak

I do hypoxic training when I swim, sometimes I’ll just do about 40 laps of varying strokes for active recovery though.

For hypoxic training I do freestyle no-breath sprints for 4 sets x max distance I can go. I’ll also do sets of swimming 25m underwater with decreasing rest periods starting at 2min and going down to 20seconds. Then I’ll also do 30-50m swims depending on how relaxed I can get my heart rate on any certain day and keep the rest interval at 2 minutes (sometimes 3 minutes if I’m really trying to lower my heart rate).

I’ll also throw a diving brick to the bottom of the pool, (only 10’), grab it and then kick my way back up. Surprisingly, that’s an incredibly good leg workout.

When my lifting buddy comes we also do a pretty intense buddy swim workout. One person treads water with their hands out of the water in the deep end, while the other person sprints down the lane and back as fast as they can freestyle, then the person who was treading does the sprint, and the sprinter starts doing no-arm treading.

Hope you guys find those swim workouts beneficial, I know I sure as hell do.

-DTC

[quote]tweaker wrote:
I am not swimming for weight loss. I only weight 165 at 5’9". My goal is to be 175 by June 2007. I think that is realistic. My other goal is to build up endurance.

After reading the latest article here on bulking, I am going to attempt to bulk clean. The good thing about swimming is that it makes it easy to eat more. Now, I eat clean, so that shouldn’t be a big deal.

Total Immersion is a great book on swimming.

My current workout is:

swim for 30-45 minutes (M through F)
workout for 15-20 minutes (MWF)
run 1-3 miles (MWF)

I do the above back to back. I am trying to improve my endurance and concentrate on my fast twitch muscles.

The workout right now is:

pullups
pushups
dips
ab work
rotator cuff work

I am trying to increase the quantity of the first four every time I workout. I am up to 3x3’s for the pull-ups. And that was tough to get to since I had just swam. I superset the ab work with the push-ups.

Now, my one buddy who lifts said that doing all that cardio would make it harder to gain. And I do agree. However, I have increased my calories to compensate since I still want the cardio benefit.

When February comes along, I will start to integrate weights back into the program and add weight to the above exericses. I will probably stick to just adding lunges, box squats, and deadlifts. Then, I will switch to lower reps as well.

[/quote]

What on Earth are you doing with all that endurance stuff and calisthenics if you are trying to focus on the fast twitch muscles and gain weight. Why are you waiting until February to lift heavy and get big and strong? To gain size with all that endurance stuff and calishtenics you would have to out-eat Ronnie Coleman himself.

[quote]KombatAthlete wrote:

What on Earth are you doing with all that endurance stuff and calisthenics if you are trying to focus on the fast twitch muscles and gain weight. Why are you waiting until February to lift heavy and get big and strong? To gain size with all that endurance stuff and calishtenics you would have to out-eat Ronnie Coleman himself.
[/quote]

I grew up with asthma, so I was never able to develop my cardio until now. There are overweight folks at the gym that can kick my cardio right now.

I am using advair, so I can run now, but since I was never able to do more than 100 meter sprints, I have a lot of work to do in this area. I just want to bring myself up to where I should be before going heavy again.

I was doing two push days and two pull days before. And I took my body weight up from 150 to 170 in six months. I have cut about 5 pounds since going off that program. But I had a hard time cutting with horrible cardio.

I want to do a clean bulk, but I want to be able to run 7 minute miles. I am barely doing 12 minute miles now. I would love to be able to run 7-9 miles with my climbing gear (about 40-50 lbs) to a climb, climb the route, and run back. But I don’t want to be a twig.

I’m thinking my ideal bodyweight will be 175-185. If I get too heavy, I won’t be able to do any complicated climbs. And 185 might be pushing it at 5’9".

If you’re trying to bulk up I don’t see it in your program. I guess if you eat a LOT and do some short distance crawlstroke and butterfly that could be somewhat beneficial. Just make sure you eat a LOT.

DD

[quote]devilBASTARDdog wrote:
If you’re trying to bulk up I don’t see it in your program. I guess if you eat a LOT and do some short distance crawlstroke and butterfly that could be somewhat beneficial. Just make sure you eat a LOT.

DD[/quote]

I am doing a slow bulk. I am getting some very slow results with the pull-ups and dips. I will see better results once I put box squats back into the program.

My legs are being neglected, but the run is killing them since my legs are not used to running any distance. Once I can overcome that problem, box squats will go back into it. I might add lunges first since I seem to be favoring one leg in the run.

I figure I am burning about 200-300 calories doing the swim, and I’m burning on average about 200 calories three day a week on the run.

However, the swim makes me extremely hungry, so I am gaining about .5 to 1 lb a week. This is slow, but this will change once I have built up the cardio.

Cheers,

Brian