Swimming as Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic swimming drills improve your fitness levels.
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Swimming may seem less intense than exercises such as running or cycling, but don’t let it fool you: The water can provide an intense calorie-burning, heart-challenging workout. Incorporate anaerobic swimming drills into your exercise program to build up your stamina, stimulate fat burning and expedite your workout.

About Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise usually refers to short bursts of high-intensity exercise that bring you to the point of breathlessness. Len Kravitz and Lance Dalleck, professors at the University of New Mexico, explain that using the term “anaerobic” to describe this type of exercise is a bit misleading. Anaerobic implies that your muscles are deprived of oxygen, which research shows is not what happens when you workout at super-high intensities. Rather, anaerobic exercise represents a point in which your body switches to a different, less-efficient fuel system – the glycolytic system. Examples of anaerobic exercise could be a 200-meter running sprint, a max set of pushups or a 50-meter all-out freestyle swim.

Aerobic Swimming

Endurance swimming -- going at a steady pace for 20 minutes or longer -- is aerobic in nature. This type of exercise taps into a long, slow-burning energy system that allows you to continue for long periods of time. If you do numerous laps in the pool at a moderate pace, you are using your aerobic system to swim.

Anaerobic Swimmng

To make swimming anaerobic, you have to work harder than normal. After a gentle warmup consisting of several laps at a slow, gentle pace, do between four and 10 50-meter sprints using a stroke of your choice. Freestyle and the butterfly are effective at raising your heart rate, but a vigorous backstroke or breast stroke can also be used. Between each bout, swim comfortably for 50 meters.


You can use other moves to get to an anaerobic point. Tread water vigorously or perform intense deep-water jogging for 30 to 90 seconds or do intense deep-water jogging sprints to raise your heart rate to a point at which you feel like you need to stop and rest. If you are not a competent swimmer, running or fast walking in the pool is an effective way to raise your heart rate to a point of breathlessness. The resistance of the water is greater than the resistance of air, so you have to work harder to do basic movements which helps elevate your heart rate.

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