Swimming not only soothes the soul but also helps in fat loss. However, finding a swimming pool, and learning how to swim may pose a challenge to many people. Learning how to exert effectively to burn the most calories is a regimen that many people get wrong. There is a myriad of swimming styles to choose from that vary the amount of calories burned. So here is how we can find out which swimming style is best for fat loss.
Benefits of Swimming
If you are having joint problems, swimming does wonders and can even be seen as a "low-intensity" workout, but being mindful of your limits is important. Every stroke burns at the very least an average amount of calories and is certainly still worth doing if the more intensive strokes are difficult to execute consistently.
For example, doing ten laps of a less strenuous stroke will still burn more calories than ten laps with a harder stroke and the wrong technique. Swimming within your means is a must and being able to identify your strong stroke would be just what you need to get started.
Why Swimming is different from running and cycling?
Running, swimming and cycling are the holy trinities of traditional cardio; all three are renowned for skyrocketing one's endurance when trained for a certain amount of time. While running and cycling are easily accessible and take very little time to prepare, swimming may present new challenges to some. It's not difficult to see why this can be a daunting task. Not only can you not gauge your workout by how much you sweat, but you also have to choose the right style of swimming among diverse styles.
Why is it essential to choose the best swimming stroke?
While cycling does require one to learn how to ride a bike, the skill floor is almost gone once this has been learned. There are ways of adjusting your cycling position to get the most out of your workout, but not nearly to the same degree as swimming. In the case of swimming, mastering the technique is critical before even trying to assess the best stroke for you. Unlike swimming, it's difficult to run "wrong" or cycle wrong once you've properly learned how to do so.
There are four main strokes that everyone will have to learn at some point if they choose to take swimming seriously enough to make it a staple in their everyday life. Swimming is unique in terms of the requirement of actually needing to learn how to perform the strokes, which may take more time than one, might expect.
Focusing on pacing each breath, the motion of the body, and the amount of force exerted can make or break the quality of your strokes, which will eventually lead to unproductive swimming sessions that you may not have known about. To solve this, learning how to float, aligning the body to be parallel to the water floor, and balancing the amount of energy exerted from your upper and lower body are good ways to learn.
Advantages of Breaststroke
If we are talking about purely boosting cardiovascular functions, Breaststroke is the optimal exercise. While still burning an average calorie count of 200 per half hour, the main highlight is its ability to stimulate blood circulation better than the other strokes.
While the motion is rather different compared to the other arm-over-shoulder, it is because of this that this style has swimmers focus most of their attention on the core and staying afloat, while being the lowest impact out of the four. While the technique of coordinating your hands and legs to synchronize is slightly trickier than Freestyle, for example, this is the best pick for those who are not comfortable holding their breath.
There are multiple ways of executing this technique, the first being known as the DPS style. IT's a classic technique that uses traditional methods to optimise energy output in relation to distance. It does so by encouraging large, powerful movements from the swimmer that will have him or her glide across the water with every stroke, rather than expelling energy needlessly with a smaller range of motion.
The Rapid Turnover style exchanges the distance covered within each stroke for the speed at which one retracts his or her arms after extending them during the stroke itself. It is highly technical but has been making waves in the professional swimming scene lately.
Backstroke for fat loss
Moving on to the more conventional styles on the list, backstroke burns approximately 250 calories per half hour and is the third-best style for burning fat - but is by no means bad. Lying on your back while moving poses quite the challenge for newcomers, but after getting the hang of things, you can expect to start seeing more defined legs, arms and shoulders. It does wonders for the hips and can even lengthen the spine if done regularly enough.
Ultimately it strikes a good balance between burning a respectable amount of calories, improving posture, and defining many major muscle groups. However, if you are looking for speed and efficiency, there are better strokes to choose from.
Freestyle for Muscle Building
Arguably the most basic and most common of the styles, freestyle is normally the standard one many gravitate towards when they learn how to swim. As an added bonus, it is also the style that burns 300 calories every half an hour, the second-best of the four!
Freestyle also has the best reputation for toning muscles such as the back, shoulders, core, and glutes. It is the easiest style to get into and serves as a good starting point before branching out to other strokes. If you are afraid of seeing the definition of your body or wish to test yourself on a technical basis, there are others that would suit you more.
Butterfly for improving Cardiac health
By far the hardest stroke among the four, but also the most effective as it can burn a whopping 450 calories in half an hour. The stroke requires a lot of emphasis on precision when your legs are tucked together and moving in a "wave" like rhythm with the upper part of your body. Both arms need to be extended together and your head must be in sync with each repetition to get proper breathing. It's quite a lot to manage, but can be the best with enough time and practice. Best to start slow with this style while getting your cardio fix with freestyle or breaststroke first.
Ezra Gideon, UNB and Dhaka Courier Correspondent in Singapore.
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