Before you start your swimming session, you need to know your body is ready for the challenges ahead. You should plan a warm up, and stretch every time you exercise.
By properly preparing your body for swimming, you are increasing your flexibility – which increases your efficiency in the water – and reducing any subsequent muscle soreness.
Stretching is integral to getting the most out of your exercise programme - as swimming is an all-body workout, try to stretch all of the major muscle groups before you swim.
The best way to do this is to stretch each body part in order - holding stretches for 10 to 15 seconds - and run through this routine three times.
Stretching cold muscles may relieve tension but will have very little effect on flexibility so gently swim for five minutes before undertaking your stretches.
If you’re stretching in the water, your body will cool down rapidly so maintain your temperature by walking, jogging on the spot or swinging your arms or legs for 20 seconds between each stretch.
You should also stretch after training – try doing this in a warm shower, holding each stretch for 30 - 40 seconds to help clear waste products from the muscles, improve post-exercise flexibility and stimulate the muscle receptors that promote relaxation.
Click the button on the right to access our Swimfit Stretching Guide widget, your interactive guide to warming up.
Once you’ve completed your stretching routine, you should continue to warm-up your body before attempting to thrash out your fastest freestyle lap!
Your swimming session should resemble a gradual build-up in intensity.
British Gas Swimfit session cards will have a warm-up plan included which you should stick to, but if not, consider these basic principles:
- Warmth – it’s all in the name really. If the water or air temperature is cold, it’s going to take longer to warm-up.... so take that into account.
- Mobility – swimming is fantastic exercise for your joints in a weightless environment. Nevertheless, bursting into ten lengths of butterfly isn’t going to do your shoulders any favours. Concentrate on relaxing your joints and glidingthrough the water as you warm-up.
- Pulse rate – by warming-up, you are avoiding any oxygen deficit or pre-training tiredness but don’t take it too easy! You need to be gradually raising your pulseto ensure the warm-up effects are maintained.