Swimming has high aerobic value, can quickly burn calories, and can be a great cross training program for skiing fitness. Swimming is not going to bulk up muscle mass, but we don’t intend it to. When done correctly, for duration and distance, swimming builds coordination. It involves an amazing number of muscle groups, all of which are involved with skiing. As with most sports, learning and perfecting a good swimming style when young, makes swimming for aerobic effectiveness a lifelong and enjoyable exercise.
Young Skiing SharksThe coordination, aerobic benefits, and core, arm and leg muscle development that young people can get from competitive swimming is invaluable to overall fitness and for more agile skiing. Competitive swimming also covers all the benefits of group sporting activities for kids i.e. competition, camaraderie, and socialization.
Supervised, progressive swim racing refines the basic swim strokes. It inherently gives the child a good swimming workout. These techniques and mechanics of effective and enduring swimming will, like riding a bike, stay with a person throughout life. As the young grow out of competitive swimming, all they need is for coaches and parents to preach the benefits of staying attached to the water. Staying connected will provide lifelong skiing and fitness improvement.
Better Swimmers = Better SkiersIt’s hard to think of an exercise that demands simultaneous full and constant use of the arms, legs and core muscle groups. Doing fast jumping jacks might compare, but would certainly tire out all but those in great aerobic shape. However, with a smooth, tuned freestyle swim stroke and controlled breathing, the average person can work all the above muscle groups and do it in the gravity defying medium of water.
Not all adult swimmers have developed a swimming technique that allows them to keep swimming for the time needed to get an effective workout without becoming out of breath. Not to worry, there are lessons, classes, and programs that can completely make over, or improve, your swimming style. They will help you effectively and efficiently tone swim your ski muscles into shape for long days on the snow.
There are many excellent programs, some sponsored by local health clubs and YMCAs. Total Immersion (TI) Swimming is a popular coaching program that teaches techniques for swimming more effectively and efficiently and thus getting more out of a swimming workout session. TI has centers worldwide.
Water Exercises for Snow FunThe buoyancy of water favors all ages and all levels of fitness. Working out in a pool in chest deep water, non-swimmers can run in place, do knee bending jumps, and float and kick holding on to side of the pool. There are structured aerobic workouts at most health clubs that are designed to elevate the pulse and work the skiing muscles groups in shallow water.
Instructors or coaches can move students into deeper water with supporting floating devices that go around the waist and don’t hamper arm or leg movement. This provides more advanced resistance exercises while safely treading water.
These shallow water exercises can be done in backyard pools (but never alone). Do them until you can feel the resistance working. In water you don’t get the heavy heat producing effect of out-of-water exercise, so, you really need let your muscles tell you when it's time to slow it down. Your leg muscles will get a workout, while your knee and ankle joints will get a break from full weight pounding.
Don't Get BoredSwimming in the average 25 yard lap pool could become boring, but, it need not be. There are plenty of ways to vary your swim workout while you are doing your ski muscles a big favor.
If your favorite stroke is freestyle, start your workout with it, then switch to a set number of back, side, and breast strokes. Repeat and vary the sequences to your liking.
- Use a kickboard to lap with.
- Split your total work out into water and a dryland aerobic exercise such as jogging or biking.
- After your swim spend a short time in a sauna and do some gentle stretches.
- Even the best swimmers can benefit from water jogging or treading water.
- Make swimming a year round activity to keep those winter muscles loose and toned.
- When the water is warm – Think Snow.