Dreaming of a trim and toned stomach? Hitting the pool is a sure fire way of ensuring your abdominal muscles get a great workout. The bonus? A strong core will also help you achieve a better body position in the water, increasing the efficiency of your performance to enable you to get more from your swim fitness.
Great news – on top of providing an impressive all-over body workout, the classic swim strokes (such as freestyle and backstroke) all help target your core as you swim. The best news? You can turbo-charge the ab-building benefits of your everyday swim by mindfully engaging your core. To do this, imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine; this will tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your torso straight, which in turn will help to strengthen your back.
Tip: Regardless of which swim stroke you choose, be it backstroke or breaststroke, aim to keep your body as straight as possible (you can use this technique on all strokes to keep your abdomen tight), engaging your core as you swim.
2. Water jogging
Water is denser than air, so simply walking, running or jogging in the pool can offer great swim fitness benefits – no equipment required. For an effective ab workout, walk, jog or run the width of the shallow end, lifting your legs as high as you can at every stride to engage and tighten your ab muscles.
To avoid damaging your back, keep it straight and maintain good posture throughout.
3. Core strengthening exercises
While all types of swimming workouts engage your abdominal muscles, these specific ab exercises will help intensify your swim fitness and results.
Head to the shallow end of the pool and place your back against the wall, holding yourself up with your arms spread wide along the pool edge. Start moving your legs as if you were pedaling a bicycle – the higher you bring your legs up, the harder you’ll work. Aim for 30 seconds to begin with (longer, if you’re able), then rest and repeat.
Continue in the ‘bicycle abs’ position – back against the wall, holding yourself up with your arms spread wide on the edge of the pool. From here, start to perform crunches in the water; straighten your legs out in front of you while still holding the edge of the pool and then bring your knees up to your chest. Straighten your legs again and repeat.
Performing high knees in the water will activate your abs and glutes while firing up your heart rate and swim fitness. Run on the spot in the water, lifting your knees to hip height each time. Engage your core and focus on using your abs and glutes to lift your legs. Go slow and controlled if you want to focus on your abs, or increase the pace if you want to add a cardio challenge.