Competitive swimmers use the dolphin kick to speed up their starts and propel themselves through turns. Even if you're not competing, you can work this move into your swimming program. Try starting off your laps with a dolphin kick or doing dolphin kick drills from one side of the pool to the other. You can even perform dolphin kicks in sets of 25 to 50 kicks to work your core and burn calories. This movement often leads into the butterfly stroke, which burns 409 calories every 30 minutes for a 155-pound woman, according to Harvard Medical School.
Submerge your body with your feet and legs held together and toes pointed upward toward the surface. Extend your arms in front of you with the backs of your palms pressed together. Keep your upper body and shoulders still and your eyes forward. Maintain a straight neck throughout the motion.
Press down with your chest to drive the initial movement. Follow this movement with an undulating motion of your lower body as you continue to raise and lower your chest. First, bring your hips upward toward the surface of the water and then downward rhythmically. Undulate your legs next, allowing them to bend slightly at the knees and and return to the straight position in a pulsing fashion.
Allow the undulating movement that began in your chest to flow through your core and legs and finally reach your feet – complete the movement by snapping your feet back, which pushes water to generate a burst of speed.
Maintain a constant rhythm and focus on full-body movement, not just kicking your legs, as you repeat this “body wave” of motion to continue your dolphin kicks. Keep your core muscles engaged and back straight throughout your dolphin kicks.
- Practice dolphin kicks above the surface by balancing your stomach on a kick board.
- If you're having trouble mastering the dolphin kick, try practicing with fins at first.
- Slate: The Cheatingest Move in Swimming: How a South African Used Illegal Dolphin Kicks to Win Gold
- Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Stack: Dolphin Kick Tips from USA Swimming
- Finis: 6 Tips on Improving Your Dolphin Kick
- iSport: How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kick
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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