You're a mermaid in the water, gaining muscle and speed with each lap. But your kicks need more. Your lap time has slowed and you're dragging in the water. And that's where your quads -- or the front thigh muscles -- come in. They need some on-land, strength training before you dive in, as well as a couple of quad-bulking pool tools added to your pool routine. Both build the quads, working the muscles to give your kicks gusto.
Prep your quads with strength exercises, like lunges and squats. Boosting your quads on land gives you an advantage in the pool; you’ll need that muscular strength to propel you.
Spread your feet hip-width apart and position your arms out in front for squats. Lower your bottom, bending at the knees. Stop once you're in a sitting pose, or your thighs form a tabletop position and hold for three seconds. Rise and wait three seconds before repeating for two sets of 10. Rest for 30 seconds between each set, and increase each set of reps by two squats when it becomes easy.
Challenge your quads in between swims and loosen your hips with pistol squats or goblet squats, using a kettlebell or light hand weight. Improvise with a medium-size can or filled half-gallon or gallon-size bottle.
Use fins -- those puppies fire up your quads like no other piece of aquatic equipment out there. Adding a weight-like resistance to your upper-thigh and glutes, fins help you tread -- or pull -- water. Keep your feet submerged. Kicking your way through the pool will feel like trudging through mud, but your burning quads and flexible ankles will thank you.
Rest your arms and force your quads to work overtime. Grab an inexpensive kickboard and hold on to the boards sides. Resist the temptation to lie or lean on the board: This isn't nap time. Grasp your boards' edges, near the top with your arms along the side, or hold its corners and straighten your arms. Keep your chest off the board. Kick and swim, pausing for 30 seconds between each set of laps. Swim until your quads tire. Add one to two more laps each time you hit the pool.
Check that you're using the right size board. Measure it against your arm and go for one that fits between your armpit and wrist. Try on your fins before diving in, as well. Search for a flexible and snug pair, but not one that's tight and painful. Remember that fin length is the secret to speed, so go with a shorter, lighter fin.
Items you will need
- Begin your laps in the deeper water and turn around before entering the shallow end. Double your laps so you'll end up swimming the same distance, while your quads reap the benefit of extra resistance.
- Speak with a doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you're unconditioned or have a chronic health condition.
- ExRx.net: Lunges
- ExRx.net: Squats
- Bodybuilding.com: 10 Highest-Rated Quadriceps Exercises
- The Everything Easy Fitness Book; Donna Raskin
- Swimming for Total Fitness; Jane Katz
- Masters Swimming: A Manual; Blythe Lucero and Cornelia Bluehl-Gohlke
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images