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Swimming conditioning, a specialized type of athletic conditioning, develops a swimmer's skills as well as his or her ability to take full advantage of the health benefits of the sport. A good workout for swimming conditioning consists of three key elements. Firstly, time must be allocated to warming up and cooling down. Next, a variety of strokes should be practiced in order to train all muscle groups. Finally, maintaining correct form ought to be prioritized over gaining speed.
Weight conditioning might trump swimming for rapid muscle growth, but swimming wins in terms of cardiovascular conditioning and improving endurance. As with all endurance exercises, proper warm-up and cool-down periods are of great importance. These prepare the body for changes in activity level and can help prevent obstacles such as cramping. Good warm-up and cool-down sessions might consist of underwater stretching and a lap or two of relaxed-paced strokes.
A common mistake of novice bodybuilders is to train the muscle groups they most want to see grow while ignoring other areas. This is a mistake because all muscle groups are needed to support each other. Large pectoral muscles, if not balanced by an equally strong back, will strain the whole body. Swimmers can commit the same blunder by focusing their swimming conditioning routines on one preferred stroke.
One of the great benefits to swimming is that it trains all muscle groups, but particular strokes are better for targeting certain muscles. For optimum strength training conditioning and to improve the entire body's ability to execute any given stroke, a variety of strokes should be practiced in swimming conditioning. Common strokes include the front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and sidestroke. The butterfly stroke probably is the most challenging, so it is better for it to be undertaken only after one has mastered the others.
Amateur swimmers will sometimes try to track their progress based solely on how quickly they move in the water. Swimming conditioning should first focus on perfecting the proper execution of each stroke. Poor form can allow a person's stronger muscles to take the burden from his or her weaker ones, even when those weaker muscles are the most appropriate for a particular stroke. By preventing the development of these muscles, the swimmer's progress in both speed and overall strength is ultimately hindered. Improper technique can also lead to injury.
Swimming conditioning does not occur only in the water. Just as many other kinds of athletes cross-train with swimming as part of their sports conditioning, swimming strength and endurance can also be enhanced through other activities. It is always good for one to use muscles in different ways, because development comes by shocking them into growth. Running, climbing, cycling and strength training exercises — such as dips, push-ups and pull-ups — can be useful additions to a swimming conditioning routine and can add to a swimmer's performance.
While I agree that stretching before and after a workout is an important part of overall conditioning, I don't agree that it should be done underwater.
In order to take the best advantage of the stretching the muscles should be warm (recently used) in order to help prevent over-stretching and injury. Most lap pool water is around 75-80 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the cold water will rapidly cool down your muscles.
Also, stretches should be held for at least ten seconds, and when a swimmer is holding their breath, it is very hard for most people to relax into the stretch and hold it.
In my opinion, it's a much better idea to simply get out of the pool and stretch on the pool deck.
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