By Chris Hoffman
A backyard pool might be the only piece of exercise equipment you need, but you should understand how to make the most of your workouts for them to be as effective as possible.
As long as you know what you’re doing, your swimming pool could completely transform your mental and physical health. Work on your strokes and breathing patterns and stretch out before you start exercising. Public and private lessons can both point you in the right direction if you need a little help with your routine.
1. Buy Your Own Pool
It’s nice to live in a neighborhood that has a public pool, but there’s no guarantee that there will be room to get your workout in. That’s one of many reasons it’s even better have your own above ground pool. Owning your own swimming pool lets you work out in privacy, and you won’t have to navigate around other swimmers to get your exercise. It’s also much easier to exercise regularly when there’s a pool right in your backyard, so the investment is worth looking into. If you don’t live anywhere near natural water or a public pool, then the decision is a no-brainer.
2. Use Different Strokes
One of the unique advantages of working out in the water is that you can use different types of strokes to make sure you get exactly the workout you were looking for. While swimming allows you to exercise your entire body at once, you can put extra emphasis on certain muscle groups by changing up the way you swim. Alternate laps around the pool using the breaststroke and the backstroke, and work on your leg kicks while you’re at it. Mixing up your strokes will also help prevent overuse injuries that could otherwise set you back.
3. Breathe Properly
One of the biggest advantages of working out in your backyard pool is that it teaches you how to breathe the right way. You have to hold your breath when your head is under water, which means you need to be able to control the way you breathe. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself coughing up water every time you go for a lap, which can throw off your workout and discourage you from exercising. Practice your breathing when you’re outside of the water if you’re having trouble when you’re in the pool and use those techniques to keep the oxygen flowing while you swim.
4. Warm Up First
Working out in a backyard pool reduces your chance of injury, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to injure yourself while you swim. You could pull or tear a muscle or suffer from an overuse injury if you don’t warm up before you get in the water. Do some light stretching to get your body ready for the workout and be careful not to push yourself too hard. Be especially careful if you have a pre-existing injury so you don’t make it worse in your attempt to be healthier.
5. Take a Class
Swimming comes naturally to some people, but others need a little help getting the right techniques down. Regardless of which category you fall into, signing up for a swimming class can make you a better swimmer. If the idea of learning to swim alongside a group of strangers is intimidating to you, consider enrolling in one-on-one sessions with a professional instructor. The focus will then be on you the entire time, and your instructor can point out what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Even the best swimmers can improve, and this is a great way to learn how.
6. Maintain Your Pool
You might see pool maintenance as a chore or you might find it relaxing. In either case, you still have to give your pool the necessary upkeep. Water with unbalanced chemicals might not be safe to swim in, which means it’s not right for exercising either. Auto pool cleaners will take some of the work out of the equation, but it’s your job to check your water to make sure the chemicals are all in balance. A nice and clean pool is also more inviting, so it may encourage you to jump in and get a quick workout.
7. Eat Healthy
Your body needs energy from calories and these calories come from the food and drinks you consume. Exercising on an empty stomach is dangerous and you might find yourself frustrated that you can’t push yourself as hard as you normally would. This is important to keep in mind if you like to work out in the morning because if you typically get enough sleep at night, you’ll wake up after about eight hours of fasting. You’ll have to restore your energy by eating a meal in the morning, even if that meal is just a protein shake or some other form of liquid calories.
8. Set Reasonable Goals
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re in the zone, but you should know when you’re pushing your body too hard. Before you start working out, think about what you hope to achieve and how you can get there healthily. Getting healthier and stronger takes time and trying to force your workout can end up doing more harm than good. Gradually escalate your routine so you can protect yourself from injury and keep your progress on schedule.
There’s a lot you can do to get more out of your workout–in and out of the pool. Remember that it takes a combination of consistency, motivation and discipline to make the most of any kind of workout routine.
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