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Dryland exercises to whet your swimming appetite

Published: 28th May 2020

Hands up if you’re missing our Active Tameside swimming pools!

Nothing beats gyms, studios, halls or ball courts such as squash or badminton for a proper workout or sports session, but people are finding ways to improvise for many of those activities.

But swimmers are a bit stuck – thrashing around in the bath doesn’t quite cut it somehow, not to mention the mopping up afterwards.

Seriously though, pool closures are a huge problem and disappointment for the thousands of us who use them on a regular basis.

We understand it’s not just about lapping up the lengths and preparing for triathlons; it’s also great for boosting your mood and wellbeing, an essential life skill for kids to learn and a fantastic way for families to keep active together and have fun.

Yes, we totally feel your frustration, whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just enjoy making a weekly splash, and you’ll be the first to know when we’re able to put measures in place to reopen our pools soon, when the time is right.

In the meantime, for those missing the physical benefits of swimming allow us to present Dryland Exercises!

These specially structured workouts offer many of the benefits of their pool counterparts – just not the water, obviously.

Dryland exercises are designed to complement a swimmer’s training to increase power, speed, mobility and flexibility but they’re ideal for anyone missing the exertion of the pool or to generally keep fit and toned.

They stretch and strengthen the muscles used in swimming, focusing on the core, arms and legs.

Here are a few Dryland exercise suggestions to include in your workout.

Just please remember to warm-up first to prevent injury.

• Burpees

The burpee, or squat thrust, is a full body exercise used in strength training and as an aerobic exercise. The basic movement is performed in four steps and known as a “four-count burpee”:
1. Begin in a standing position.
2. Move into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
3. Kick your feet back into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
4. Immediately return your feet into squat position. (count 3)
5. Stand up from the squat position. (count 4)
6. Aim for 10 reps

• Jump Lunges

Jumping lunges are an effective lower body exercise that increases the intensity and difficult

y of the basic lunge by adding a jump. The addition of a plyometric jump not only challenges the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and calves, but it also involves your cardiovascular system. This gives your heart rate a boost and helps you burn more calories.

1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with your core engaged.
2. Take a big step forward with your right leg. Keep your arms by your side.
3. Shift your weight forward with this leg, so your heel touches the floor first. Then lower your body until the forward leg is parallel to the floor. This is the bottom position.
4. Jump up, quickly switching the position of your feet while mid-air so your right leg moves back behind you and your left leg comes forward. To help you move explosively, propel your arms into the air while you jump.
5. Gently land back on the floor in a basic lunge position with the opposite leg forward.
6. Repeat this movement pattern, switching legs on each jump. Beginners should aim for 5 to 10 reps on each leg or 30 seconds total. As this gets easier, work your way up to 60 seconds of continuous jumping lunges.

• Planks

The plank (also called a front hold, hover, or abdominal bridge) is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.
The most common plank is the forearm plank which is held in a push-up-like position, with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes. The plank strengthens the abdominals, back and shoulders.

1. Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide.
2. Press through your shoulders and dome your upper back to protect your shoulder sockets and strengthen your chest muscles (pectoralis major/minor).
3. Micro-bend your elbows to shield your joints against unnecessary pressure.
4. Lengthen your spine behind you and lift your knees off the floor (you can leave your knees down).
5. Parallel your legs to the ceiling and engage your thighs.
6. Tuck your hip bones forward toward your belly button to increase your abdominal and glute engagement.
7. Stack your heels over the ball-mounts of your feet to avoid strain on your toe joints.
8. Gaze down to lengthen your neck and to keep your spine aligned, then hold for 30 – 60 seconds.

• Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks mimic the said animal’s movement and help to build gluteus maximus, in other words, your bum.

1. Get on all fours, with your hands stacked directly under shoulders, and knees under hips.
2. Make sure your back is flat (think: balancing a cup of coffee on your lower back), and tuck your chin slightly so the back of your neck is facing the ceiling.
3. Without rounding your spine, engage your lower abdominals.
4. Keeping the 90-degree bend in your right knee, slowly lift your leg straight back and up toward the ceiling. Your max height is right before your back starts to arch, or your hips begin to rotate.
5. Return to the starting position.
6. Repeat 8 reps on one side, then switch legs.

For core strength try:

• Flutter kicks

Flutter kicks are an exercise that works the muscles of your core, specifically the lower rectus abdominal muscles, plus the hip flexors. They mimic a swimming stroke. You can perform them lying on your back, or, if you want to also strengthen your back muscles, you can do them lying on your stomach.

1. Lie down on your back, facing up.
2. Place both your hands underneath your buttocks.
3. Keep your lower back on the ground as you lift the right leg off the ground slightly past hip height and lift the left leg, so it hovers a few inches off the floor.
4. Hold for 2 seconds, then switch the position of the legs, making a flutter kick motion.
5. For more of a challenge, lift your head and neck off the floor.
6. Repeat this motion for up to 30 seconds.

• Superman

The superman move is great for working on both your abs and your back; specifically, it helps with the muscles around your shoulders.

1. Lay on your stomach on the floor.
2. Extend both arms in front of you and raise one arm above the ground while lifting the opposite leg; for example, raise your right arm while lifting your left leg.
3. Hold for a few seconds, then switch.
4. Don’t be tempted to rush or let your limbs just fall back to the ground.
5. Aim for 10 fluid and controlled movements.

• Russian Twists

This move helps work your torso with rotating movements, similar to freestyle swimming. Building control and strength in this movement will improve your speed in the water and prevent corkscrew twisting.

1. Sit on the ground and lift your feet a few inches into the air.
2. Keep your knees bent and lean back a little for balance.
3. Turn your upper body to one side and touch the ground, then do the same on the other side.
4. This is even more effective if you use a dumbbell, medicine ball, or other weight of some kind.
5. Make sure you are maintaining control throughout the movements and not allowing your legs to turn, drop, or flap around.
6. With this one, work up to 6 reps each side.

While Dryland exercises don’t compare to gliding through the water, they can help to keep up your good health and fitness ahead of plunging back into the pool in the coming months.

You can complement them with our latest home workout videos which our staff have been working hard to produce for our members and communities as we endure the coronavirus lockdown. You can find them on the free Active Tameside App or on our website.

We’ve also put together an exercise guide which uses everyday household items.
Give it a try here.

Swimming is one of the BEST forms of cardiovascular exercise because it uses pretty much every muscle in your body and raises your heart rate.

Water is around 800 times denser than air, so think of swimming as mini-resistance workout, helping you tone those muscles as well as building fitness. Even better, it doesn’t put too much stress on your joints.

And it doesn’t just get the thumbs up for being a fantastic full-body exercise, it’s also beneficial for the mind, helping to bust stress, anxiety and depression – providing you do it regularly.

It’s also brilliant for blitzing calories.

During a 30-minute steady swimming you’re looking at around a 350-calorie burn and because it fires up your metabolism, you’ll carrying on burning them for quite a while after you’ve dried off and headed home.

We hope this blog has whetted your appetite for swimming and you’ll be taking the plunge again with us soon.

As we see some of the lockdown restrictions easing over the weeks and months, we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop regarding the re-opening off our centres – keep an eye on our homepage for updates!

Please stay safe, well, healthy and happy.

Until next time.

The Active Tameside Team!

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