When you're starting out, lap swimming can feel like a lot of hard work for very little reward! You need to swim consistently for maximum results. Once you've committed to the sometimes daunting choice of Slow or Medium lane - it can still be a huge challenge making it from one end of the pool to the other! We say start in the slow lane and try to avoid peak pool hours until you're confident.
Swimming is a great way to stay in shape, and can be a much a lower impact exercise for knee and hip joints when compared to running or walking.
The good news is swimming cardio is one of the most effective ways to lose weight - including your belly fat. But this goal requires you to keep swimming for 15-20 minutes at a time while maintaining your heart rate levels in the fat burning zone.
The 'fat burning zone' is a theory that you should maintain your heart rate at just 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate during exercise to burn more fat. (To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.)
If you're looking to lose weight and keep fit, though, the general rule of the game is to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Make an effort to do some form of cardiovascular training three to five times a week for 20 minutes or more per session.
With that in mind, anyone looking to swim for fitness should be able to swim at least 20 minutes at a time, several times a week. Including breaks at each end of the pool, you're looking at around 30 minutes in the water per session. You need to build some discipline, and you don't want to be bored in the pool.
Basic Beginners Swim Workout
Here is a great sample pool workout for beginner swimmers that we found at active.com.
2 laps (100 meters)
1 lap easy
1 lap fast
(repeat five times, with no rest if possible: 500 meters)
2 laps KICK
1 lap backstroke
1 lap freestyle
1 lap breaststroke
1 lap freestyle
Total: 1,000 meters
The above workout is an outline for someone wanting to achieve basic conditioning while maintaining muscle tone and flexibility. If it is too much of a challenge, you may need a few swimming lessons to correct your technique before tackling the sets above.
You'll build up to an hour in the pool in no time!