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Confession time: I have my dad’s build. And, I’m not just saying “oh, my physical traits resemble those of my father”. No, I’m telling you that if you shrunk him down, or blew me up, we’d have identical bodies. It’s pretty comical until you realize that he’s an impressively built man, leaving me as an impressively built…man? See for yourself below!

Ok, I suppose I won’t go that far, but the point I’m trying to make is that it’s super easy for me to “bulk up.” Plain and simple. When I exercise, I quickly develop muscle. Now, I’m not complaining about that. On the contrary, I really do appreciate my strong build, but the way my body reacts to exercise does impact what kind of workouts I do.

I love weight training, but I know that I can’t limit myself to pumping iron alone. I HAVE to mix it up, and I have to incorporate exercises that may not be my favorite in order to achieve desired results. Luckily, I have discovered several go-to workout formats that encourage long, lean muscles that I’d like to share with those who can relate to my plight.

First up: swimming! If you recall, Cara and I trained for and completed a sprint triathlon last spring. Now, you may also recall that we both dreaded the swimming portion at the beginning of training, but much to my surprise (and chagrin if I’m being honest with myself), I ended up really enjoying my days scheduled in the pool. Although challenging at first, this new type of exercise has become a favorite of mine simply due to the physical benefits I experienced from it. I increased by cardiovascular endurance, felt strong, and at the same time, slimmed down greatly over the course of our 12 week training program.

Because swimming is an incredible TOTAL BODY workout, it has the ability to slim and tone, and provides many other health benefits.

Allow me to elaborate::

  • Swimming is a super cardiovascular workout. Requiring both your upper and lower body to propel you through the water, many more muscles are actively engaged to keep you going than other activities such as running or cycling.
  • Swimming is a great workout for muscular strength. I know this seems counter intuitive considering the added buoyancy water offers, but the resistance is there and you’ll use muscles you never even knew existed to keep yourself afloat!
  • Swimming is easy on the joints. For someone with ankle, knee, back, you-name-it pain, swimming is a great way to keep the body moving without literally pounding the pavement.
  • Swimming also promotes flexibility. Increased strength, combined with the gentle resistance and smooth movements water exercise creates, are all proponents of your bendy bits.
  • Swimming can reduce stress. Due to the rhythmic breathing swimming laps requires, the mind is able to focus on internal processes as opposed to the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Check out the video below for some helpful tips on breathing while swimming.

As if all of the above isn’t enough to encourage you to swim, just think about this: the Olympics are coming up SO soon. Just how cool would it be to relate to Michael Phelps, USA’s most decorated Olympian of all time? Pretty darn cool, if you ask me! So, whether you belong to a gym, have a pool in your community, or a lake nearby, get yourself a sweet speedo, swim cap, and goggles, and get to work!

Nourish and Be Nourished::