Tired of looking at the bottom of the pool in your swim workouts? Try backstroke! Adding backstroke to your workouts has several benefits that will help you in and out of the pool. Aside from being a great total-body exercise and calorie-burner, backstroke can be the perfect antidote to rounded shoulders or even back pain. If you're not convinced, consider these five reasons to flip from freestyle to backstroke the next time you head to the pool.
- Improves your posture: Backstroke is a great exercise to reverse the effects of time spent on the computer. Unlike most of our daily activities — or even other swimming strokes — backstroke helps open up chest muscles. Backstroke also strengthens the upper back and lats, pulling your shoulders back, which helps create better posture.
- Tightens your core: The key to backstroke is balance. Although all swim strokes strengthen the abs, the rhythm of backstroke engages your entire core through a slight hip rotation. In addition, the undulating movement from the kicks off of each wall, activates both your lower back and core.
- Can be used as cross-training for runners: If you're a runner, swimming is a low-impact way to cross train between runs. Backstroke kicks engage the muscles in your legs and glutes for a complete lower-body workout; further challenged by the resistance of the water.
- Complements freestyle: As with every exercise routine, balance is key. Freestyle is often favored by many swimmers and is the first stroke taught to beginners. Mix up your workouts and improve your freestyle by incorporating a few laps of backstroke into your regime. Freestyle and backstroke are perfect complements to each other, working opposite muscle groups. Consider alternating strokes between laps or using backstroke to cool down with.
- Will improve your weight-room workout: When you're not rocking it out in the weight room, use backstroke as a way to straighten your arms and shoulders. Once your fingers enter the water to begin your catch, your biceps must bend against the resistance of the water to finish each stroke. Although your biceps and lats are in the greatest demand during the catch, your triceps and lats will benefit as well.