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Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:10 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
So basically my story is Ive been hit by the injury bug hard. Had tendonitis in my knees (especially the left one) for a good 4 years, had tendonitis in both my wrists for 2 years, and have had an umbilical hernia for about a year. I went from exercising everyday and being 6'3 190 pounds, all the way to 255 pounds. I got back down to 200 pounds on my own, and around January I started going to physical therapy and have seen a lot of improvement. I eventually had to stop because they were a little overzealous and I rehurt my knee, but my wrists are a lot better and my hernia isnt constantly hurting me anymore (doctors say I can still work out with it).

The last week and a half Ive woken up at 4am, done stretches and a few calisthenics for an hour, then gone to the gym at 5Am, lifted a few weights I didnt have at home, and sprinted out about 4 lengths of free style, 2 lengths of back stroke, 4 lengths of breast stroke, and 2 lengths of butterfly that Im still trying to master, in the pool. Ive seen a lot of improvement since I started the swimming, almost immediately. My back, shoulders, biceps, and chest muscles are all starting to reappear as if out of nowhere, and my stomach is looking more defined. Im feeling strong and my wrists and knee arent bothering me so much. Hernia is still annoying me but once I dropped some weight I gained a month ago (get back to 190 from 200) I should be okay there too. Also I think waking up at 4am is insuring I dont stay up all night and lose out on sleep, Im just feeling great overall. Im looking to increase the number of laps I do soon.

Is anyone else swimming to stay in shape, or get back into it? I realized early on it doesnt burn as many calories as other exercises so I have to be careful of what I eat, but it works out my muscles like nothing else, and is very low impact which allows me to exercise through my injuries.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 5:38 am UTC
by Evengeduld
gfile-destroyer wrote: I realized early on it doesnt burn as many calories as other exercises


It burns more calories then you think when you swim free style for about an hour since it is a full body workout, you need to be able to swim for an hour straight first (with the normal few minutes rest in between)

I used to swim to keep myself into shape but then I discovered the wonders of running and sprinting again, mixed with a tad of mountainbiking. Being able to talk to someone while you workout is important for me. It makes me feel I can work out way longer then when I am on my own and talking while swimming would not be as easy, with all the water and stuff.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:54 am UTC
by casoid
Evengeduld's right, swimming is a full-body thing. Going by the advice of a colleague who was on the UK Armed Forces team, go for sprints, working up through sets as though you were doing interval work. As a side effect you will get a lung capacity bigger than most whales.

Also, rowing, even static indoor rowing, is an excellent low-impact method of getting fit. Don't know if it would affect your knees, but I've had no problems and I have had a recurring issue with my right knee ever since I broke it playing rugby.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:52 pm UTC
by Evengeduld
casoid wrote:Also, rowing, even static indoor rowing, is an excellent low-impact method of getting fit.


That is also a good idea but with his tendonitis in the wrists it would be a risk to hurt them again from pulling the paddle's. just a reminder because getting hurt sucks :)

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:18 pm UTC
by casoid
You keep your wrists straight whilst rowing, but having to grip the handle tightly for ~40 mins might not be good, seeing as how the actuating tendons run through your wrist. I don't know if that might make matters worse. Good point.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:25 pm UTC
by Evengeduld
Better safe then sorry ;)

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:08 pm UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Swam 7 lengths of freestyle, 4 of breast stroke, 3 of butterfly, and 4 of backstroke all as sprints. I'm feeling great. Sometimes I feel a little strain in my wrists when doing breast stroke but not today. Hernia was bothering me a bit before I started, but much less now. The only thing is I woke up late today. Looked in a mirror in the dressing room and I look completely different than I did 2 weeks ago, it's pretty incredible.

Well besides my tendonitis I just don't have any rowing equipment, nor any training in how to do it.

When you say free style for an hour straight do you mean sprints, or lower intensity work? I played water polo for a semester in highschool and we were taught to just sprint everything in practices, so thats what Ive been doing. I could do more freestyle laps but Im trying to do all of the different strokes to work out different muscles. Im not sure how interval training works, but what I normally do is just make sure to sprint 2 lengths of whatever stroke Im doing, rest if I need to, and then just keep going until I get in the number of lengths I want for each stroke (I aim to do slightly more each day when my body lets me).

But concerning my hernia I feel a lot better the less weight I have on me. I'm trying to figure out a good diet to take all the excess fat off of my stomach and go from my current 196.5 to something more like 180-190. Right now I dont have that much muscle on me, so maybe even a bit lower weight wise.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:37 pm UTC
by casoid
Sprints are the way forward for building stamina and rapidly increasing fitness. It'll make you want to die, and you'll develop a deep sensation of dread every time you go to do them, but the results will be felt in short order.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:07 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
I think the kicks on the fly are bothering my knee. Ill hold off on that for awhile, and just do more of the other strokes. Today was an off day, did 4 freestyle, 2 of everything else.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:59 pm UTC
by Evengeduld
gfile-destroyer wrote:When you say free style for an hour straight do you mean sprints, or lower intensity work? I played water polo for a semester in highschool and we were taught to just sprint everything in practices, so thats what Ive been doing. I could do more freestyle laps but Im trying to do all of the different strokes to work out different muscles. Im not sure how interval training works, but what I normally do is just make sure to sprint 2 lengths of whatever stroke Im doing, rest if I need to, and then just keep going until I get in the number of lengths I want for each stroke (I aim to do slightly more each day when my body lets me).


If you are able to sprint for an hour you have an awesome physical condition :) but I mean just a lower pace and just keep going for about an hour.

And your impression of interval training is pretty good actually. I used to do 200m at a lower pace then sprint 50m and the go back to 200M to start with (provided you can at least swim 450m without rest.)
Later on I went to 100M 'slow' - 50M sprint -100m slow - 100m sprint - 100m slow - 50M all out sprint rest and then repeat 2 more times. You'll have an awesome night sleep then :)

gfile-destroyer wrote:I think the kicks on the fly are bothering my knee. Ill hold off on that for awhile, and just do more of the other strokes. Today was an off day, did 4 freestyle, 2 of everything else.


Try and learn the kick without using your arms if you manage to do those without getting hurt you can start full fly's without to much stress to your knees :)

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:35 pm UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Did 12 lengths of free style, 6 of breast stroke, and 6 of back stroke, all sprints of course. Final length of breast stroke my hernia started bothering me, but I think it was because of not breathing out enough rather than the actual stroke. My knee feels pretty good. I've gotten my flip turns down pretty well too. I think I will switch up the breast stroke and fly to see which ,if either, of those are bothering me. Tomorrow is my off day. My wrists are feeling fantastic :D. Should add Ive started eating a can of kidney beans a day for more protein.

Also I've not yet figured out how to do the fly correctly (arms are off and short kick are off, but long kick is good), and my kick on the breast stroke is off, so it could be my form thats bothering me.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:09 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
After stretching and weights did 10 lengths of freestyle, 6 of breast stroke, 6 of back stroke, and 2 of fly, all sprints of course. First time where I felt I had plenty of energy left after doing so many. I didnt want to rehurt myself though so I stopped and am looking forward to building some muscle tomorrow on my rest day. I think I've finally improved from where I was 2 weeks ago. Im really starting to look muscled too, probably has something to do with my increased stamina.

I started from nothing, and am really starting to look and feel strong. Ill have finished my first month of swimming in a week or so, Ive worked hard but I was not expecting this much improvement. And Im really starting to enjoy swimming now, I used to hate it.

Would be awesome to see where I am in 6 months if I keep this up. Actually I might post a picture each month to see how much I improve.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:34 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Messed up my wrists playing pingpong, had to take a week off then get back into swimming. My muscles are bigger than they had been but Im doing about 1 less of each lap, except butterfly which Im doing 2 of now. Changing my schedule to two days of working out followed by a rest day, 3 days in a row is too much for me, even with the middle day being lighter. I end up needing two days of rest which means I get less days of work in.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:50 pm UTC
by savanik
gfile-destroyer wrote:Messed up my wrists playing pingpong, had to take a week off then get back into swimming. My muscles are bigger than they had been but Im doing about 1 less of each lap, except butterfly which Im doing 2 of now. Changing my schedule to two days of working out followed by a rest day, 3 days in a row is too much for me, even with the middle day being lighter. I end up needing two days of rest which means I get less days of work in.


You are playing some serious ping-pong there if you're hurting your wrists with it... :)

Rest days are important, I'm putting 1 rest day between each of my running sessions just so my ankles have some time to recover. I think if you're training for sprints you need more recovery between sessions than if you're going to train for endurance.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:45 am UTC
by Evengeduld
yeah, Rest is the most important training of them all. Well that is what my trainer keeps saying ;)

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:42 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Should I stretch on my off days or does that count as a strain on my muscles? I feel much better after stretching so Id like to do it on off days.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:29 am UTC
by Evengeduld
Stretching is a good thing to do. :D

BUT :!:

Never stretch your muscles without warming them up. you can get some serious injuries from streching 'cold' muscles.
A warm/hot shower can be enough to warm up your muscles before stretching. Also when you stretch you may NEVER feel pain because then you are going to far. (unless your muscles are sore from the training you did the day before :) )

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:05 pm UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Thanks evengeduld, heading to the shower as I type. Actually my muscles feel really good today despite working out hard the last two days, but I did get a lot of sleep, also yesterday was a really excellent day which could've loosened me up. I usually stetch to a point where it feels somewhat uncomfortable (maybe slightly painful) but also feels really good. Alright, time to stretch.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:29 am UTC
by gfile-destroyer
Recently Ive been starting off my workouts with a 100m sprint freestyle. Hoping to get this up to 500m eventually, but setting my sites on 150m for next week :D .

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:32 am UTC
by gen!e
been swimming for a long time here, and i've found that once you get into to, 15 or so sprint laps isn't going to cut it in terms of endurance and speed. Also, one important thing is feel of the water, which helps with balance and the like.

If you feel butterfly kick is giving you problems, feel free to try a breaststroke kick after every pull, water polo style, instead. you can really work on your stroke rate if you do that as well.

for myself, i need a good 1200 yard warmup, and usually a warm up set involving some short sprint work, before i get into my main set, which is usually around 2-3 thousand yards. that main set is where you put work in and push yourself to the limits of your endurance. However, without someone to swim with, it gets hard to motivate yourself sometimes. also, after the main set is where i like to work on breathing stuff, like 16 25's no breath, on the :40 seconds or so.

i have someone make sets for me, so if i swim by myself, i'm motivated to beat their "challenge" to me. swimming with a partner is always better though cause you have someone to race see how you're improving.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:20 pm UTC
by gfile-destroyer
I strained my right shoulder or something, it's been hurting. Im giving it 2-3 weeks off. Feels better after 9-10 days but still feels hurt.

Re: Swimming to get back in shape

Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:21 am UTC
by big boss
So when you guys say sprint do you mean swim at 90% of the fastest you could possibly go?

I know its been mentioned that swim is a full body workout but if you want to burn fat would running be better? I have been doing ab exercises for a while and feel that I have pretty solid abs but I have this layer of fat on my stomach and Ive switch off between running and swimming to try to get it lose it. Then I tried a combination of both and soon was able to run much further because the swimming greater improved my breathing. So what will help me get rid of the fat, and is running like 5 miles (or swimming a mile, I'm not really sure how hard it is to swim a long distance) the best way or interval running/swimming? Or some other exercise entirely?