Weight Loss Exercises Beginners

Weight Loss Exercises Beginners

Technique

Start in a high lunge position with one foot forward, knee bent at 90 degrees and your back leg straight with your toes tucked under. Place your hands on the floor by your front foot.

Pump twice into your front leg, shift as much weight as possible into your arms and jump to switch your stance. Repeat.

Toned arms, sculpted shoulders, defined legs, a killer core… They’re nothing to scoff at, but perhaps the most important gain isn’t one you’ll notice on your bod – it’s the mental time-out you get when you hit the pool with no smartphone or playlist to distract you.

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“Swimming almost becomes like a meditation,” says Olympic gold medal swimmer Leisel Jones. “The water creates this environment where you feel cocooned. There are no phones ringing or people talking – it’s just you and your breathing.” Dive in and within minutes, you’ll likely find it’s as quiet in your head as it is outside, as the rhythm of your breath and the rolling ofyour body take over.

And if you’re a person who has trouble quieting your monkey mind? Well, Shaun Wadham, director at Sydney Triathlon Group (stgfitness.com.au), reckons the technical component of swimming will give you more than enough to focus your attention on. “It’s hard for your mind to wander ifyou are concentrating on doing a particular part ofthe stroke well or, for more advanced swimmers, focusing on rhythm and timing,” explains Wadham. “Also, the sound and feel ofthe water is very calming.” So calming, in fact, that an international survey conducted last year found that 74 per cent of swimmers aged 16-45 found getting in the pool had a positive mental impact, releasing stress and tension. Further research has also shown that swimming can reduce anxiety, increase energy levels and even help to lower blood pressure.

“It’s quiet under water, so you’re with your own thoughts,” explains Ian Cross, swimming teacher and author of Swimming Without Stress. “Water also slows down your movements and massages your limbs as you move them against it.”

Don’t be fooled by the relaxing vibe ofthe water, though. You might not see the sweat beads rolling down your face, but those 50m freestyle laps are hard work. “Swimming requires the use of muscles in the arms, shoulders, legs, core, back and bottom, meaning it offers a fantastic full-body workout,” says Wadham. “Given you are required to engage so many muscles over a sustained period oftime, you’re challenged aerobically. Also, there’s no gliding down a hill or walking with swimming, so it’s hard to ease off.”

Be fit

It s also a good workout for the heart and lungs. The increased demand for oxygen while swimming means your muscles have to work harder as they push against the resistance ofthe water. “Breath control helps to expand lung capacity and creates a great cardiovascular workout,” Jones explains. “The water also takes away the weight-bearing aspect of exercise, making it gentle on the joints.”

It might be fun pounding away the kilojoules on a treadmill, building your strength with Body Pump or sweating up a storm on a bike, but ifyou want more bang for your fitness buck, consider trading your usual workout for time in the pool at least once a week. You’ll find swimming improves stamina, strength and endurance.

To Steven Shaw, author of Master the Art of Swimming, swimming is unlike any other physical activity. “Apart from needing to coordinate your whole body in the horizontal plane, you also have to be in tune with the water,” he explains.

Shaw says the rhythmic movements of swimming, free from the downward pressure of gravity, can be akin to meditation. But you’re unlikely to reach a zen-like state if your stroke feels like a battle to stay afloat.

“To swim without stress, movements need to be well organised or ‘directed’, and breathing needs to be free and unforced,” says Cross. The key, he adds, is emphasising the out-breath and letting the in-breath take care of itself. “When fit people tire easily in water, it’s usually because they are hyperventilating,” he explains. “If you don’t breathe out freely into the water but gasp for air between strokes, you are starving yourself of oxygen by failing to get rid of the stale, deoxygenated air.”

Body position in the water is also crucial, according to Kari Baynes from Sydney Swimmers (sydneyswimmers.com.au). “You need to engage the core,” she explains. “Once you are streamline in the water, everything else falls from there. Your body position is going to impact your efficiency and how you move through the water.” When it comes to mastering technique, a few lessons with a pro can make all the difference. “If you’re a first-timer, it would be a great idea to join a squad suitable for beginners,” advises Jones. “A coach will be able to help you feel comfortable, improve your technique and you’ll have so much fun.” Baynes agrees, “There’s an importance in taking lessons first – for safety, to reduce any chance of injury and to improve your experience. If you try swimming for yourself without guidance, you might end up saying, ‘This is really hard, I’m gasping for air, I can barely swim 25 metres, I’m going to stop.’ So if you haven’t swum in a while, do a refresher course – that’s the best chance of you getting the most benefit out of it.”

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