Swimmer’s bodies seem to vary across the body type spectrum. On the one side, you have ultra-lean and muscular athletes like Michael Phelps and on the other you have well insulated (to put it politely) ultra swimmers. In the middle, you have your average master’s swimmer who may not look like amazing athletes, but once they get in the water are incredibly fast. Unlike in running and other weight bearing sports, in swimming, a little extra fat can help performance with buoyancy and warmth. However, if your primary goals is to get rid of this extra weight, then there are a few steps you can take without giving up your training:
- Include intervals: Many people swim continuously at a moderate or easy pace. This is great for building endurance but for slimming down it can be detrimental. By including 25-200m sprints into your workouts, you not only will increase your anaerobic threshold but also help whittle your waist.
- Watch your carbohydrate intake: There is nothing wrong with carbs; they are your primary source of fuel at very high intensities and sprints and have been shown to improve performance at high intensities. If your goal (keyword there) is fat loss or a better body, however, then moderating how many carbs you consume may help. I am certainly not recommending cutting out carbs completely because that can lead to health complications in athletes; rather, calculate your carbohydrate intake based on the amount and type of exercise you are doing.
- Hit the weight room: Supplementing your swim and/or triathlon training with 2-3 weight lifting sessions a week can help boost hormones that help with weight loss. Make sure you are including exercises that target multiple muscles like squats and deadlifts with heavy weights and lower reps.
Lastly, please note that it is very hard to optimize both body composition and race performance, so make sure you clarify your goals first and then structure your training and diet to meet those goals.
Coach Chris and Kev