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Proper breaststroke technique can help you achieve the fastest swim time.
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Even though it's one of the slower swimming strokes, the breaststroke is difficult to perfect and requires focus and effort to execute properly. As the breaststroke uses a frog kick and not a straight leg kick, unlike other swimming strokes like the front crawl, breaststroke specific exercises can help build muscle strength and encourage proper coordination for a stronger, better, faster breaststroke.
Muscles Used and Proper Form
All swimming strokes make use of muscles in your back, abdomen, legs - especially the glutes - arms and shoulders. However, the frog kick in the breaststroke emphasizes your adductor and abductor muscles as well as your chest and trapezius muscles because of the different movements required for the stroke. It's essential to keep your head and torso in a straight line for proper form in the breaststroke. You use your shoulders to power the movement that brings your torso out of the water to breathe, maintaining spinal alignment throughout the movement and enabling a faster swim. To reduce the risk of knee or groin injuries, do not over kick - extending too deep or wide than necessary. This will also help reduce drag.
Workout In The Pool
All breaststroke workouts in the pool need to include a warm-up and cool down session of five to 10 minutes each, with the primary, or middle, set broken up into two distinct sections. Depending on the length of your pool and the duration of your workout, practice only the kick using a kickboard in your hands for the first three to six laps. For the next three to six laps, practice only your arms, using a flotation device between your knees to stay afloat. For the second half of the primary set, do the full stroke, swimming 10 to 15 laps. You can use this second half to concentrate on improving form in different elements of your breaststroke, including the turn between intervals.
Building Muscle -- Cobra Exercise
The Cobra exercise is a variation of a yoga pose and is good for the breaststroke as it builds your trapezius muscles. Your trapezius muscles control your shoulder movement, helping build arm and upper body strength for your breaststroke where your arms reach upward and pull back. To complete the pose, lie on your stomach on a yoga mat or towel and place your arms straight out in front of you. As you inhale, lift both your straight arms and legs off the ground. Keep your chin tucked in toward your neck and lift your head from the back of the neck to create a gentle curve and lift. You should not experience any neck pain when doing this exercise; if you feel pain, stop. Move your arms to the side until your hands are alongside your hips. Hold for two counts and then return your arms back to the starting position. Relax and repeat the movement for 10 to 12 counts, for one to three sets. To increase the challenge of the exercise, hold two light dumbbells in each hand, palm facing down, while doing the full exercise.
Building Muscle -- Plie Squat
A variation on the classic squat, the plie squat builds lower body strength as well as working your lower core muscles for stability. More importantly for the breaststroke, the plie squat also works your adductor and abductor muscles. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointed slightly outwards. Firm your core, place your hands on your hips and sink down as if you were sitting on a chair. Bend at your knees and hips, keeping your feet flat on the ground. Sink as low as you can, trying to get your thighs parallel to the floor. Do not let your knees extend past your toes, if they do, space your feet further apart. Keep your torso straight for the entire exercise. Hold for five seconds before slowly rising. Repeat 10 to 12 times for one to three sets. To make the exercise more challenging, hold dumbbells in each hand instead of placing them on your waist.