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Resistance Swimming

Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.

When properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being, including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength and toughness, improved joint function, reduced potential for injury, increased bone density, increased metabolism, improved cardiac function, and elevated HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Abdominal exercises are an important of building abdominal muscles. They have many important functions, including breathing, coughing, sneezing, and maintaining posture and speech. Strenghtening of this muscle group is useful for improving performance with certain sports, back pain, and for withstanding abdominal impacts.

Why Resistance Swimming?

If you want to gain strength, stamina and more muscles, do regular resistance training. Swimming in clothes is an aquatic form of resistance training and a less obvious form of weight training. It is the aquatic equivalent to weight lifting without the injury risk. Your core should be strong and engaged when you swim.

Keep moving against sufficient resistance often enough and you gain strength no matter what you do, because your muscles get exercised. This is fairly hard training, but you will notice the difference if you keep doing this persistently, preferably with a training partner to keep you motivated.

Resistance levels can be adjusted to suit your training needs by adding layers of heavier clothes like jeans, jumpers and trainers. This can be used for slow, controlled movements, like push-ups. Heavy trousers add weight to your training routine to build up greater lower body strength. The effects of this addition results in increased weight shifting and dashing power.

Keep your "heaters" (legs) moving vigorously to keep your body warm. You can stay warm by wearing additional clothes like an anorak.

It is like Weight Lifting

Many athletes use wet clothing in training to increase their strength and endurance in long repetitive events, such as swimming, running or cycling. The more you wear, the harder your muscles get trained. It's just like adding weights. Simple.

The weight of the soaked up water slows down your movements because you have to move that weight, a bit like weight lifting. Hoodies, sweatshirts and jogging pants can be really hard to swim in, especially if you layer them. Practice in these challenging outfits and you'll gain a good bit of strength and stamina.

Build up Strength

Begin your training by swimming several lengths just in running tights or shorts and measure the time it takes. You will find this quite easy to do.

Next increase your training level a notch, just like you would do in a gym. Put on a T-shirt and jeans. Measure the time to find out what difference the extra resistance makes.

Then add tracksuit bottoms and measure the difference. Swim a fair distance to get used to the extra resistance on the legs. Finally put on a tracksuit top and repeat. Notice the difference.

Do a variation of this training. As before start your swim just in T-shirt and shorts. Then add rain pants or an anorak. Finally wear the whole suit. The nylon fabric doesn't soak up much water. Instead water will collect in the sleeves and pockets. Hence the training effect is somewhat different. Raise your arms to drain out the water.

Another easy fun exercise: Go for a run to a nearby pool. Swim several lengths dressed in your sports kit. Jump out at each end, touch the wall or something else and hop back in to swim the next length. Then run back. By the time you get home your clothes are almost dry. Don't forget to shower in your kit after your swim to rinse out sweat, chlorine or any dirty water. Otherwise it rots your kit and starts to smell.

Begin Resistance Swimming

When you start to swim in clothes for resistance training, you want to slowly build up strength and stamina, before you move on to he heavier power training.

T-shirts are a popular outfit, easy to swim in, and give beginners a good idea of what resistance swimming in clothes feels like. You can simply layer two or more larger T-shirts for added weight.

Get a Feel for the Game

Put a stack of T-shirts in different sizes on pool-side. For your first swim put on a tight fitting shirt. Swim a few lengths to get used to the feel and the low drag resistance.

Now put on a larger shirt and swim several lengths. Notice how the bigger shirt floats differently around you and increases drag resistance.

Next add another, larger shirt on top and notice the difference.

If you teach a class, do a kit race where they swim in their sports kit from one side to the other, then get out and trade their kit with someone else on their team. It's great fast paced fun.

Advanced Resistance Swimming

This maybe the session you've been waiting for. We practice swimming in jeans and a T-shirt, the legendary classic swimwear. It will give you a somewhat harder workout but also is great fun.

Start this swimming session dressed in tight fitting jeans and T-shirt. These are easy to swim in as long as they don't chafe. If your jeans are too tight your freedom of movement may be limited, especially with the breast stroke leg kick. Notice how streamlined tight jeans can be. You just glide through the water. Once you have gained enough confidence swimming in tight clothes, get out and dry off for the second part.

For your next swim put on baggy jeans and a loose T-shirt or two. Loose fitting jeans avoid chafing but cause more resistance when swimming. If you have two T-shirts wear the smaller one underneath and tuck it into your jeans.

As you slowly go into the water you will notice a few differences. Your jeans may balloon a bit with the air moving up, especially when wet. As you go in deeper notice how your T-shirt floats loosely around you. This may cause a hindrance if you're not used to it, hence this training.

Many lifeguards wear jeans because they offer protection from sunburn, stings, cuts and scrapes. Divers and dinghy sailors use them to protect their wetsuits. For others its just convenient swimwear with pockets to keep your keys away from thieves.

More Resistance Swimming Exercises

Swim with one hand out of the water

The point of this exercise is to simulate a carrying or towing situation. Use sidestroke for this.

Swim with a Brick

A typical rubber brick weighs 5kg. You can carry it using lifesaver's backstroke, or hold it above water while swimming sidestroke.

Towel Swim

This simulates an escape technique where you can't use your hands. Grab a towel or hoodie and hold it with both hands behind your back. Now swim on your front with leg kick only.

Tumble Swim

This excercise can make you a bit dizzy. You alternate one or two breaststroke moves with a forward turn.

Clothing Tips for Resistance Swimming

This strength training is designed to build muscles and get you fit. You swim with high effort against a resistance. This can be either a tether, or various levels of clothing.

The clothing method is recommended as it distributes the resistance load evenly over your entire body, leading to a more balanced result.

Sportswear like tracksuits are best, worn over a lightweight base layer. Add rainwear like anoraks, pants, or ponchos as you get stronger.

The trick is to use layers like you would use weights in a gym. Slowly increase the muscle load.

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