More stamina, more muscle – and less fat deposits: Swimming is the ideal sport to define your own body without stress. 

It’s like an addiction: when the dentist Katrin Schneider does not come to her daily hour of swimming, the mood drops – and others have to pay it off: the dog, the kids or the patients. Better, you have an appointment in their practice, if they already pulled their tracks in the morning in Hamburg Kaifu-Bad. But she is not only mentally balanced – the morning hours of the pool are also noticeable in her figure: flat stomach, well-trained arms, strong back, slender legs and firm butt are the reward for the daily workout.

“When swimming, I can relax even better than jogging – and it trains all the muscles,” says the blonde 38-year-old about her wet passion. Dirk Lange (49), former national coach of the German swimming federation (DSV), can only confirm that: “There is actually no other sport, which trains all muscles so extensively and nevertheless gently.” A study of the institute for prevention and Nachsorge ( IPN) in Cologne has recently shown that the energy and fat burning in swimming is just as high as when cycling.

In one hour breaststroke, about 530 kilocalories (kcal) are consumed – just as many as when cycling. Anyone who cracks for an hour burns up to 900 kilocalories, of which almost 35 percent comes from fat deposits.

Extra temperature effect

The calorie consumption is also so high in swimming, because a lot of energy must be spent to regulate the body temperature. Only at a water temperature of 26 degrees, the heat exchange of body and water is reasonably in balance.

However, if the water temperature is higher or lower, the organism consumes additional energy to prevent it from overcooling or overheating: Now it burns fats without extra effort. In addition to burning fat, strengthening the muscle groups involved also has a positive influence on the body proportions of the swimmers.

The practical aspects in detail:

  • In particular, swimming strengthens the muscles of the shoulders, arms and lats, thus supporting the classic V-shape of the upper body.
  • The endurance improves, the whole body becomes more powerful and resilient. Longer units are possible, the temperature differences in the water strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of getting caught in the cold (sauna effect)
  • Swimming also promotes the secretion of the hormones endorphin and serotonin, which help to reduce stress faster and make you feel more balanced and happy.

Improve water feeling

One of the most important factors to be able to train your swimming technique and to be able to swim longer distances is the improvement of the water feeling. Swimming Coach Lange: “In swimming, it’s always about optimizing propulsion by reducing water resistance and improving your rhythm.

Often you can only do that by standardizing and repeating the movements, for example the Kraullan maul. “In order to pull yourself forward in the water and push yourself away from the water, you have to learn how to perceive the resistance to water, a feeling for it develop.

“The feeling of water is different with performance swimmers in every pool,” says Dirk Lange. “That’s why some athletes have one pool more than another.” Even amateur swimmers can improve their water feeling through various exercises:

  • Vary your hand posture: one with a fist, the next with the flat hand on the arm pull.
  • Use fins: to feel the braking effect of a bad water situation at higher speeds
  • When swimming, consciously swim with different head positions: raised head, stretched posture, strongly lowered head. When scrubbing, only apply pressure to your forearm and forearm, and fully perform the arm movement underwater. The exercise is called sculling - and it reminds you of dog paddling.

Motivate free waters

In the summer months you can lay your swimming training at the sea or at a swimming lake. Swimming in the open water often motivates in addition – especially hobby athletes who also start in triathlon competitions.

However, the visibility is often limited by waves and turbid water and has an influence on the technology. In the pelvis you try to aim for a low head position, and you breathe in with a very short movement to the side – in open water swimming you breathe mostly like a water polo player forward.

The advantage is that a suction effect is created as when cycling in the lee. Disadvantage: The – unintentional – blows and kicks of other floats bring one out of the rhythm.

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