The Swim Meet Warm Up: Everything You Need to Know About Preparing to Swim Fast

Michael Butler
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The Science Behind an Awesome Warm-Up

A recent study1 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effects of a warm-up on strength in a group of untrained, healthy men. The comparison group did five minutes of moderate cycling at 65% of their maximum oxygen consumption twice a week over a period of four weeks. The experimental group also completed five minutes of cycling twice a week but also spent 10 minutes warming up and stretching.

After the four weeks, the cycling groups had similar changes in their oxygen consumption values, but the experimental group saw much more significant increases in their strength. The results of this study show that a slow warm-up like cycling isn’t beneficial to strength gains; and, in some cases, may decrease performance.

So why is the moderate warm-up less beneficial than a more intense warm-up? To understand this, you have to understand the mechanisms that cause an increase in strength.

It’s true that muscle tissue has the ability to increase fiber size, which allows you to lift heavier weights; and it can improve your ability to generate force through thickening of the muscle… but only when you activate the muscle under load. Studies have shown that your muscles will undergo significant modifications in order to improve their ability to generate greater force when activated under stress2.

How Long Should Swimmers Warm-Up For?

Warm-ups are an important part of every practice session, regardless of whether it’s a preparation session for a race or just a general early-season workout. The goal of any warm up, regardless of the type, is to work the body gently and to raise the temperature of the muscles and blood.

Swimmers should spend at least ten minutes on their warm-up, and there are several types available to choose from.

The Swim Warm Up

The swim warm-up is the simplest and most cost-effective warm-up of all, and it’s generally the most effective at raising the temperature of the body. It’s also one of the least stressful warm-ups if you have a busy session ahead of you. The warm-up consists of swimming easy freestyle for around 20 minutes, followed by a few minutes of drills.

The Main Practice Warm-up

The main practice warm-up can be anything that the swimmer wants it to be. This is a good time to work on skills that require a lot of focus to develop, and it’s also a great time to acclimate to the water temperature that you’ll be swimming in.

How Much Time Before Your Race Should You Warm-Up?

Without the right warm-up routine, you could find yourself pulling muscles or straining tendons right before your race. A proper warm-up should take roughly 10 to 20 minutes based on many factors: the distance you will be swimming, your level of fitness, and whether you’ll be swimming in water or on a treadmill.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

It takes from 5 to 10 minutes for your body to get ready to swim.

Your warm-up should include easy stroke drills and light jogging or jumping rope.

The tougher the race is going to be for you, the longer the warm-up period should be.

If you have limited warm-up time, cut back on the intensity instead of the duration.

Warming up for at least 5 minutes is recommended prior to any strenuous activity.

An easy paced warm-up is effective for all starters. It also helps you avoid premature fatigue.

To prevent muscle strain or fatigue, refrain from a cold swim before a warm-up.

Warm-ups before pushups, situps, or jumps should include body stretching, light jogging, and easy sprinting.

In general, warm-ups help increase blood flow to muscles, which increases strength and flexibility.

How to Supercharge Your Swim Meet Warm-Up:

Before you jump into swim practice, run through these steps to supercharge your warm-up and build metabolism-revving lean muscle that’ll help you stay fast throughout your race.

1/ Be Prepared

There’s a reason why the first 45 minutes of a professional swim meet consist of fliers running through a long warm-up routine in front of the stands. Because warm-ups are important. This is especially true if you’re training for any type of racing event where individual time trials will be included.

If you’ve done your homework and thought through your goals for the day and for the season as a whole, you’ll probably dive right into the water without much time wasted of standing around and waiting for other swimmers to finish their pre-race warm-ups.

But if you’re not prepared, you’ll be less likely to warm up fast before a meet. Your warm-up should be scheduled, as well.

2/ Consider Your Goals

The best warm-ups are goal-oriented and tell a story. A good warm-up motivates you to go faster. It helps you feel less nervous and anxious about the race ahead, while helping you focus on your personal wins.

In Summary

Being able to perform a proper warm up is more than a matter of convenience. It plays an important role in facilitating power and endurance and making the most of your swim meet experience.

Fortunately, the warm up doesn’t have to take a long time, and it’s simple to do. You just have to be organized. That means having a warm-up routine, and sticking to it.

The good news is that you can use the warm up to help you be more mentally and physically prepared for your swim meet. This way, you’ll be able to perform more consistently and get the most out of your meet.

Something as simple as knowing what you need in your warm up can help you to be more confident in your ability to perform well.