Swimming; The Toning 'Silver Bullet'
When it comes to choosing an activity outside of the gym to lose weight and to look good, you don't have to look too far to find the next best thing, if not an equal partner in the toning battle; the swimming pool. Swimming, when done properly and efficiently, is one of the best activities that tones the whole body, promotes coordination, is easy on the joints, great for the abs and simple to master. There's so much to swimming and how it tones you.
The best part of swimming is the fact that in order to do it right and to get the correct form you have to force your whole body to work equally. This means that it is very difficult not to work all parts of your body and thus have the ability to burn muscle all around your body. Getting rid of subcutaneous (skin) fat is essentially what toning does and swimming helps you do just that.
Your abs which people want toned the most get a really amazing hit out of swimming. In order to keep your back as straight as possible you need to tense your abs as there is nothing else that your body can use to stabilise your core and back. In the gym you are always connected to the floor or an equivalent surface which means your body can use that to stabilise you in order to keep your form right. In the pool you are afforded no such luxury. Instead you are given one option and that is to suck it in and tense the abs as you power through your swim no matter what your swimming stroke is. Therefore in some cases it is more beneficial for you to swim than to do crunches in the gym where your form might not be as efficient for getting rid of that tummy fat as 20 lengths in the pool.
In the pool you get efficiency in so many ways; swimming not only uses the entirety of the body promoting a full range of motion and an extensive use of muscles from your neck all the way down to your calf but it can also aid your breathing. Unless you are lucky enough to be born with gills you have to hold your breath in the water. This means that swimming requires you to be efficient in taking in oxygen. We take this for granted in the gym full of oxygen but in the pool we have to really breath in. Why is this important? When we get tired in the gym for some people it's because we haven't been efficient in taking in oxygen; this sounds silly but it's true. How many times have you decided that an exercise requires you to hold your breath to get through? In the pool you have to be regimented with your breathing. This is a transferable skill to take back to the gym where you will find exercises seem a bit less difficult when you have a steady breathing in place. Steady breathing also helps you control your heart rate. A controlled heart rate can go on for longer at around 60-80% of your maximum heart rate if you keep your breathing calm and steady. After mastering the art of steady breathing try going on a treadmill and seeing what a difference a steady breath makes.
The pool is also very good for being efficient because it keeps you away from your phone; the arch-enemy of efficiency. How many times have we all checked our phones in the gym only to be slightly sucked-in to whatever has taken our attention only to see we have wasted a good 5 minutes which could make a big difference when trying to lose that bit extra weight or to put on that extra bit of muscle. The pool shuts you off from communication technology for the most part and leaves you with your body and a pool of water and a mission. It's a small thing but it can make a difference when it all stacks up.
Remember that swimming can be an isolated exercise too. Kicking exclusively or just using your arms is an option as well so when it comes to choosing what needs work there is an option. This increases the difficulty of swimming which is very useful especially when there is no other way of making swimming difficult. This is of course a common problem when thinking of other sports to do outside of a gym with adjustable weights and machines. So if you want to target a bit extra toning for your arms or legs you have that option.
Toning is surprisingly not down to how much you sweat but by how much of your body is working at the same time for a long period of time. There is no better exercise than swimming when it comes to using the entire body at the same time when comparing it to the gym. This is especially helpful when exercising to make sure that every part of the body is getting the same stress put on it rather than just the legs on a treadmill. No body part is left behind when you swim. There are 4 different swimming stroke styles and all have their benefits to each part of the body.
Toning requires the body to go through different stresses in terms of speed. This means that toning loves interval training whether it is aerobic, anaerobic or CP training. When you swim you can really develop your skill of interval training in all departments. To find out more about interval training check out our article post explaining how it all works. Swimming is very good with interval training and the scope to play around with it is so simple when factoring in different swimming styles. The swimming pool is yet another playground where you can enjoy a wide range of methods to make exercise suit you.
Swimming is incredible for toning because it ticks all the boxes when it comes to efficiency which is what we all want when it comes to definition around our bodies. It is this reason that swimming can be for most of us that glorious 'silver bullet'. With swimming we can get a couple of steps closer to that ideal fat percentage we all want to get to in order to look great for summer and to feel good forever.