View Full Version : Need Help

December 28th, 2004, 09:15 AM
For the last couple of years I was extremely active. I was jogging about 10miles a week, lifing 4 times a week, and well as playing soccer every Sunday.

Last month I had some lower back pain and visited the doctor. I recieved horrible news that I can no longer jog, play soccer, or lift weights because of a herniated disk as well as some other things. She told me that if I want to maintain my fitness I should swim.

I feel great now and the doctor said that if I went back to my normal routine I may be ok for a while, but the problems would re-occur. I am not interested in ruining myself. But want to keep the fitness level I was at or increase it if possible.

I am not a swimmer like most of you are, but I have enjoyed recreational swimming all my life, I am 27 years old 5'7", 170LBS, and 12%BF. What kind of fitness workout would you guys recommend. The strokes I am capable of are breast & freestyle. I feel very awkward doing the others.

What kind of things would you recommend for me. I can swin 6 days per week for 50 minutes each time. I really want to burn fat and maintain (or improve) my body.

Rob Copeland
December 28th, 2004, 10:08 AM
This discussion forum contains lots of workouts:
Tough Love - By Jeremy Kipp
Out of the Box and Into the Pool - By Mo Chambers
Evolution of Speed - By Nate McBride

Also, I would suggest hooking up with a local Masters swimming program. Workouts with others are always (at least for me) much more enjoyable and challenging then workouts on my own.

December 28th, 2004, 11:01 AM

I have read those, but they seem very technical for me. I don't think I can do flys or backstroke effectively.

As for finding a masters swim club. I am currently living in South Korea. So finding anything for me is a challenge.

Any suggestions on how to modify some of those workouts to exclude flys and backstrokes?

December 28th, 2004, 11:17 AM
I think I should mention that I am really a beginner. I can swim, but have never been part of a team or part of a class.

I am simply looking for an effective 6/wk @ 55min cardio workout. Something to get my heartrate in my target range without suffering major injury.

Something simple. Everything I find on the internet seems to be geared towards training for all out swimmers. Am I looking in the wrong place with the board? If so, sorry for waisting your time.

December 28th, 2004, 02:24 PM
Keep in mind that if you are going by heart rate, I believe that target heart rates for swimming are lower than for running or other aerobics. You might want to check on that to be sure.

Don't worry about other strokes. You can get a great workout just doing freestyle. Start out slow. (I wouldn't even try to start with 55 mins at first.) First day, get a feel for what you can do. How many lengths can you do before you are totally out of breath? (I'll bet it is two or three at most, initially.) Measure how long it takes you to do that. Rest about the same amount of time. Do it again. Rest. Do. Rest. etc., and be content if you can keep that up for 20 minutes.

Next day, try to extend 20 minutes to 22. Maybe see if you can do 4 lengths once in a while instead of 3. See if you do your repetitions faster than yesterday. (You probably won't at first.)

Over time, extend the number of lengths in each rep. Extend the overall length of your workout. See if you can do each length a little faster over time. See if you can shorten your rest time between reps.

Eventually you might find that you can do 10 lengths in 5 minutes. And after that, you'll improve to where you can do 10 lengths in 5 minutes INCLUDING YOUR RESTS. When you are there, you'll be doing 3000K in an hour, and most people can only dream of doing that. If you are starting out from "beginner", it would be quite an accomplishment if you achieve 3000K/hr within a year. Slow and deliberate. There is no rush. If you only reach half that much, ever, you still should be proud of the progress.

Rob Copeland
December 28th, 2004, 03:29 PM
There are also lots of great books on swimming and training. You may want to check out:
Total Immersion: A Revolutionary Way To Swim Better And Faster by Terry Laughlin
Fitness Swimming (Fitness Spectrum Series) by Emmett W. Hines
Swimming for Total Fitness: A Progressive Aerobic Program by Jane Katz
The Fit Swimmer: 120 Workouts & Training Tips by Marianne Brems

Or if you want to get more technical:
Breakthrough Swimming by Cecil Colwin
Swimming Fastest by Ernest W. Maglischo

December 28th, 2004, 08:32 PM
Don't be surprised if you suddenly want to learn how to backstroke or fly, if for no other reason to add variety in your workout. Swimming is like no other sport and it is very easy to get hooked.

December 29th, 2004, 03:49 AM
Yeah, the thought of taking lessons has crossed my mind since I got the news. Over the last 2 years I was extremely active with running, lifting and soccer. Once I get into something I usually go "full steam ahead". So I think swimming will be no different.

I just hope that I can go fast enough and long enough to burn fat.

I found a simple looking workout last night, please let me know if you think this would be effective:

Warm Up:
9min; 25m easy kick/25m moderate swim/20sec rest (repeat)

9min; 25m easy stroke drill/15sec rest

22min; 25m fast swim/25m easy swim/25m fast swim/30sec rest (repeat)

Cool Down:
5min; 25m east swim/10sec rest (repeat)

And, since I am not a swimmer. Would the drill part be needed? Or could I add those 9 minutes to the core?

Thanks so far for all your help.

December 29th, 2004, 06:44 AM
I would keep the drills. They are a great way to improve your swimming. In the long run, swimming will be more enjoyable and you will be more likely to keep at it if you improve.

December 29th, 2004, 11:54 AM
I agree, drills will improve your swimming allowing you to swim longer and with more intensity. One HUGE WORD OF CAUTION! Don't try to do too much too fast too early and without the right technique. That is a sure way to injure your shoulders or knees and then you wouldn't have any way to exercise at all. Don't be surprise when you get in the pool and find out your endurance from running isn't what you expect. Swimming uses different muscles and for some reason endurance from other sports doesn't 'transfer' well. Since you've lifted weights your muscles are probably going to be tight, you'll need to find some gentle exercises to loosen them. (one thing I see at my pool all the time, young fitness fans--runners, weight lifting and aerobic dance types getting in the pool and swimming with such poor technique that this slow, 50 something, grandmother can lap them easily on her cruise speed) Find a good coach to train you. He/She will gradually and safely bring you up to a level that you desire and teach you correct technique. There is nothing better than one to one coaching. Your appetite will probably increase too and you should look into the proper nutrition for a swimmer.

December 29th, 2004, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by SeoulNewfie
And, since I am not a swimmer. Would the drill part be needed? Or could I add those 9 minutes to the core?

What drills do you plan to do? If you're just starting out from scratch, and if you don't have a coach watching your stroke for areas of improvement and recommending drills to help you make improvements, "drill" may not be of much value to you. It may even be counterproductive if you do them wrong.

Have you been in the pool yet? Do you know what you are capable of doing today?

Personally, I think you are over-thinking this new regimen.

December 29th, 2004, 08:02 PM
I don't know of any drills. And I have not been to the pool yet. So I have no idea what I am capable of. Which is why I asked what kind of routine would be best for me.

All I am looking for is something to get my heartrate in the proper range (about 113-152 for swimming) without getting injured.

My plans are not to become an elite swimmer or anything like that. Just looking for an alternative cardio workout.

Fred Johnson
December 29th, 2004, 10:52 PM
I agree with what these other swimmers have said. Your first day in the pool, invest in some time figuring out how far you can swim non-stop, e.g. 1 length, 2 lengths? Time yourself at an easy and moderate pace for these distances. (A good water resistant watch with stop watch function will help a lot.) This will help you establish a base line of distance and time for your specific fitness and skill level. Spend some time researching stroke mechanics so you can practice good mechanics when you swim. On this and other websites, you can find books and videos that will help you. Also, the pool where you swim may have a coach or team or more experienced swimmers who can assist you with mechanics.

I would also add that "drill" may be more difficult than you anticipate. Swimming several lengths doing freestyle drills can be very taxing physically. You can use this time to work on stroke mechanics and it will benefit your lung capacity and increase your heart rate, I predict.

When you get to the workouts, you can modify distances, times and strokes on almost any of the workouts on this site. I find Coach Mo's workouts geared more to drill work than the others while still being very challenging. The other coaches workouts will wait for you to build your skill level and endurance.

Good luck.

December 29th, 2004, 11:58 PM
I guess than my ultimate questions is.....

From all your experiences, is it reasonable to think that I can get my heartrate in the target range from just freestyle laps? Since I have never swam for cardio, I am not sure how high it would get from a moderate swim.

When I ran I could get my heartrate up without over doing it. Is this possible to do with swimming as well? I realize that the continous laps will be low at first and increase, as well as my distances and stroke rate.

I did look into lessons today, and well, 30 learners to one instructor who does not speak English. :( So it seems as if I am stuck with what I have.

Nancy Graham
December 30th, 2004, 11:22 AM
Keep in mind that Heart Rate is sport specific. Your max HR will be different for swimming than it is for running. You could do the same heart rate tests you did to determine your max for running. Swim max will most likely be lower.

December 30th, 2004, 11:45 AM
yeah, I know about the heartrate.

I am going to the pool on Monday for the first time. We'll see how it works. I have managed to find a couple of doctor recommended workouts for athletes with lower back problems (basically no bending or lifting above the head) as well as advice on using other forms of cardio (Elliptical Machine). If my doctor approves those I will use them in conjuction with swimming. I am excited about learning a new sport since all impact sports are out of the question now.

Thanks for all the help. Hopefully I can get the target heartrate for swimmers for a reasonable time without killing myself! ;)

December 30th, 2004, 11:47 AM
OH heck yes you will be able to get your heart rate up into the right range. But what we are saying is that if you push yourself into the range you think is right for you now, you may injure your shoulders if you are going to do all free. When you first started running and lifting weights, you built up and had someone advise you on how to do it correctly, didn't you? Even though you are in shape, you have to do the same thing with swimming. Be patient, and since you are in shape you MAY/probably will be able to progress a little faster than most.

Don't be afraid that you are going to get out of shape or gain weight while you are learning correct technique and building up endurance/intensity/distance/time. Even if you do, you will gain it back quickly.

You don't want to look for swimming lessons, you want to look for a coach to train you one to one unless there is a "masters team" where you live.

December 30th, 2004, 03:59 PM
Originally posted by SeoulNewfie
I guess than my ultimate questions is.....

From all your experiences, is it reasonable to think that I can get my heartrate in the target range from just freestyle laps? Since I have never swam for cardio, I am not sure how high it would get from a moderate swim.

You can get your heartrate to any level you want to in the pool -- whether you do freestyle, butterfly, swim underwater or just do doggie paddle. All you have to do is do whatever you are doing faster (or slower) to get the desired rate.

But I still think you are over-thinking this.

When you start out as a beginner, your first concern should be not to drown. Once you have some handle on what you can do, then you can start worrying about the details.

Seriously, on your first day just see if you can do two length nonstop without wheezing up a lung. You'll be surprised how hard it will be the first day.

December 31st, 2004, 04:33 AM
Well, after a week of research and consultation with my doctor I have come up with a program that we all think may work for me. It will involve 3xWeek swimming, 3xWeek Ellipitical Machine, & 3xWeek weight training specfically designed for athletes with lower back pain.

Since contact sports are out I would not be surprised at all if in a couple of years I become a swimmer and join some kinda of club or team.

Thanks to all of you for you advice. It was most helpful. This has been by far the most usefull forum I have ever been on. So many quick replies with great advice. I hope someday when I return to Canada I can find a Masters Swimming club in my area.

December 31st, 2004, 01:33 PM