Zac's Fitness for You - Upper Body Exercises

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
UPPER BODY EXERCISES

Trunk or torso is an anatomical term for the central part of the body from which extend the neck and limbs.
The trunk includes the thorax and abdomen.

Major Muscle Groups

The trunk also harbours many of the main groups of muscles in the body, including the:

Pectoral muscles
Abdominal muscles
Lateral Muscle (latissimus dorsi)
Arm Bicep
Arm Tricep
Shoulder Muscle (deltoid)

Pectoralis Major 


The pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest (anterior) of the human body. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female. Underneath the pectoralis major is the pectoralis minor, a thin, triangular muscle.
It arises from the anterior surface of the sternal half of the clavicle; from breadth of the half of the anterior surface of the sternum, as low down as the attachment of the cartilage of the sixth or seventh rib; from the cartilages of all the true ribs, with the exception, frequently, of the first or seventh and from the aponeurosis of the abdominal external oblique muscle.
From this extensive origin the fibers converge toward their insertion; those arising from the clavicle pass obliquely downward and outwards (laterally), and are usually separated from the rest by a slight interval; those from the lower part of the sternum, and the cartilages of the lower true ribs, run upward and laterally, while the middle fibers pass horizontally.
They all end in a flat tendon, about 5 cm in breadth, which is inserted into the lateral lip of the bicipital groove of the humerus.
Electromyography suggests that it consists of at least six groups of muscle fibres that can be independently coordinated by the central nervous system.
The pectoralis major has four actions which are primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint.
The first action is flexion of the humerus, as in throwing a ball side-arm, and in lifting.
Secondly, it adducts the humerus, as when flapping the arms.
Thirdly, it rotates the humerus medially, as occurs when arm-wrestling.
Finally it aids in deep inspiration, as in taking a deep breath.
The pectoralis major is also responsible for keeping the arm attached to the trunk of the body.
It has two different parts which are responsible for different actions.
The clavicular part is close to the deltoid muscle and contributes to flexion, horizontal adduction, and inward rotation of the humerus.
When at an approximately 110 degree angle, it contributes to abduction of the humerus.
The sternocostal part is antagonistic to the clavicular part contributing to downward and forward movement of the arm and inward rotation when accompanied by adduction.
The sternal fibers can also contribute to extension, but not beyond anatomical position.

Exercises for the Pectoralis Major

A variety of resistance exercises can be used to train the pectoralis major, including bench pressing (using dumbbells, barbells or machines at various angles such as decline, incline and flat where the hips are above, below and level with the head respectively), push ups, flyes (using dumbbells or machines at either flat or inclined angles), cable crossovers or dips.


Cable Flyes on an Incline Bench










Dumbbell Flyes on an Incline Bench










Multi-joint press exercises are better for building muscle mass, while fly and crossovers are more suited for shaping and increasing striations.

This muscle is often said to consist of four portions (upper, lower, inner and outer) but the pectoralis actually contracts evenly across all heads during most exercises and as such no portion can be 'targeted'.
The pectoralis can also be trained through breaststroke and front crawl.
The anaerobic work capacity of the pectoralis is a major determinant of swimming speed, whereas swimming endurance is more influenced by the aerobic capacity of the deltoid muscle (apart from overall cardiopulmonary aerobic capacity).

Sexual Appeal

The pectoral muscles are commonly alleged via anecdotal evidence to be a major source of sexual appeal in male humans, demonstrating strength.
Some male humans claim their development to be an asset in attracting a sexual partner.



Abdominal Muscles



The abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the thorax (chest) and pelvis.

The region enclosed by the abdomen is termed the abdominal cavity.
Anatomically, the abdomen stretches from the thorax at the thoracic diaphragm to the pelvis at the pelvic brim. The pelvic brim stretches from the lumbosacral angle (the intervertebral disk between L5 and S1) to the pubic symphysis and is the edge of the pelvic inlet.
The space above this inlet and under the thoracic diaphragm is termed the abdominal cavity.
The boundary of the abdominal cavity is the abdominal wall in the front and the peritoneal surface at the rear.
The transversus abdominis muscle is flat and triangular, with its fibers running horizontally. It lies between the inner oblique and the underlying transversalis fascia. It originates from Poupart's ligament, the inner lip of the ilium, the lumbar fascia and the inner surface of the cartilages of the six lower ribs. It inserts into the linea alba behind the rectus abdominis.
The rectus abdominis muscles are long and flat. The muscle is crossed by three tendinous intersections called the linae transversae. The rectus abdominis is enclosed in a thick sheath formed, as described above, by fibers from each of the three muscles of the lateral abdominal wall. They originate at the pubis bone, run up the abdomen on either side of the linea alba, and insert into the cartilages of the fifth, sixth, and seventh ribs.
The pyramidalis muscle is small and triangular. It is located in the lower abdomen in front of the rectus abdominis. It originates at the pubic bone and is inserted into the linea alba half way up to the umbilicus.

Functions

The abdominal muscles have different important functions.
They provide movement and support to the trunk, and assist in the breathing process.
Moreover, these muscles serve as protection for the inner organs. Furthermore, together with the back muscles they provide postural support and are important in defining the form.
The transverse abdominus muscle is the deepest muscle, therefore, it cannot be touched from the outside.
It can greatly affect the body posture.
The internal obliques are also deep and also affect body posture.
Both of them are involved in rotation and lateral (sideways) flexion of the spine, and are used to bend and support the spine from the front.
The external obliques are more superficial and they are also involved in rotation and lateral flexion of the spine.
Also they stabilize the spine when upright.
The rectus abdominus muscle is not the most superficial abdominal muscle.
The tendonous sheath extending from the external obliques cover the rectus abdominus.
The Rectus abdominus is the muscle that very fit, defined people develop into the '6-pack' ab look, although, it should really be an '8 pack', as there are 4 vertical sections on each side.
To achieve a '6-pack' you must tightly control your calorie intake, and exercise very regularly' - Tom Daley is a good example.
The 2 bottom sections are just above the pubic bone and usually not visible, hence, the '6 pack' abs.
The rectus abdominals' function is to bend one's back forward (flexion).
The main work of the abdominal muscles is to bend the spine forward when contracting co-encentrically.

Abdominal Exercises
Being a key element to support the spine and contribute to a good posture, it is important to properly exercise the abdominal muscles together with the back muscles, as when the 'abs' are weak, or overly tight, they can suffer painful spasms as well as injuries.
When properly exercised, these muscles contribute to improve posture and balance, reduce the likelihood of back pain episodes, reduce the severity of back pain, protect against injury by responding efficiently to stresses, help avoid some back surgeries, and help healing from a back problem or after spine surgery.
Also, when strengthened, the abdominal muscles provide flexibility as well.
Hanging straight leg raise
Crunch with feet anchored - (abdominal crunch machine)
Crunch with feet free
Straight-leg sit-up
Bent-leg sit-up


Latissimus Dorsi 

The latissimus dorsi (plural: latissimi dorsi), meaning 'broadest muscle of the back' (Latin latus meaning 'broad', latissimus meaning 'broadest' and dorsum meaning the back), is the larger, flat, dorso-lateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.

The latissimus dorsi is responsible for extension, adduction, transverse extension also known as horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint. It also has a synergistic role in extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine.

Due to bypassing the scapulothoracic joint and attaching directly to the spine, the actions the lat has on moving the arm can also influence the movement of the scapula, such as their downward rotation during a pull up.

The power/size/strength of this muscle can be trained with a variety of different exercises.
Some of these include:
Vertical pulling movements such as pull-downs and pull-ups (including chin-ups)
Horizontal pulling movements using the bent-over rowing stack machine
Pull-overs
Dead-lift is NOT recommended

Most latissimus dorsi exercises concurrently recruit the teres major, posterior fibers of the deltoid, long head of the triceps brachii, among numerous other stabilizing muscles.
Compound exercises for the 'lats' typically involve elbow flexion and tend to recruit the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis for this function.
Depending on the line of pull, the trapezius muscles can be recruited as well; horizontal pulling motions such as rows recruit both latissimus dorsi and trapezius heavily.
Pain

Tight latissimus dorsi has been shown to be one cause of chronic shoulder pain and chronic back pain. Because the latissimus dorsi connects the spine to the humerus, tightness in this muscle can manifest as either sub-optimal glenohumeral joint (shoulder) function which leads to chronic pain or tendinitis in the tendinous fasciae connecting the latissimus dorsi to the thoracic and lumbar spine.
The muscle may be loosened by stretching exercises and gentle pull-ups without resistance.


Arm Bicep


In human anatomy, the biceps brachii, or simply biceps in common parlance, is, as the name implies, a two-headed muscle.

The biceps lie on the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow.
Both heads arise on the scapula and join to form a single muscle belly which is attached to the upper forearm.
While the biceps crosses both the shoulder and elbow joints, its main function is at the latter where it flexes the elbow and supinates the forearm.
Both these movements are used when opening a bottle with a corkscrew: first biceps unscrews the cork (supination), then it pulls the cork out (flexion).
The term biceps brachii is a Latin phrase meaning "two-headed muscle of the arm", in reference to the fact that the muscle consists of two bundles of muscle, each with its own origin, sharing a common insertion point near the elbow joint.
The proper plural form of the Latin adjective biceps is bicipites, a form not in general English use. Instead, biceps is used in both singular and plural (i.e., when referring to both arms).

Origin and Insertion

Proximally (towards the body), the short head of the biceps originates from the coracoid process at the top of the scapula.
The long head originates from the supraglenoid tubercle just above the shoulder joint from where its tendon passes down along the intertubercular groove of the humerus into the joint capsule of the shoulder joint.
When the humerus is in motion, the tendon of the long head is held firmly in place in the intertubercular groove by the greater and lesser tubercles and the overlying transverse humeral ligament.
During the motion from external to internal rotation, the tendon is forced medially against the lesser tubercle and superiorly against the transverse ligament.
Both heads join on the middle of the humerus, usually near the insertion of the deltoid, to form a common muscle belly.
Distally (towards the fingers), biceps ends in two tendons: the stronger attaches to (inserts into) the radial tuberosity on the radius, while the other, the bicipital aponeurosis, radiates into the ulnar part of the antebrachial fascia.
Two additional muscles lie underneath the biceps brachii.
These are the coracobrachialis muscle, which like the biceps attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula, and the brachialis muscle which connects to the ulna and along the mid-shaft of the humerus.
Besides those, the brachioradialis muscle is adjacent to the biceps and also inserts on the radius bone, though more distally.

Functions

Flexed arm in the pronated position (left); with the biceps partially contracted and in a supinated position with the biceps more fully contracted, approaching minimum length (right.)
The biceps is tri-articulate, meaning that it works across three joints.
The most important of these functions is to supinate the forearm and flex the elbow.
These joints and the associated actions are listed as follows in order of importance:
Proximal radioulnar joint (upper forearm) – Contrary to popular belief, the biceps brachii is not the most powerful flexor of the forearm, a role which actually belongs to the deeper brachialis muscle.
The biceps brachii functions primarily as a powerful supinator of the forearm (turns the palm upwards).
This action, which is aided by the supinator muscle, requires the elbow to be at least partially flexed. If the elbow, or humeroulnar joint, is fully extended, supination is then primarily carried out by the supinator muscle.
Humeroulnar joint (elbow) – The biceps brachii also functions as an important flexor of the forearm, particularly when the forearm is supinated.
Functionally, this action is performed when lifting an object, such as a bag of groceries or when performing a biceps curl.[pronation] (the palm faces the ground), the brachialis, brachioradialis, and supinator function to flex the forearm, with minimal contribution from the biceps brachii.
Glenohumeral joint (shoulder) – Several weaker functions occur at the glenohumeral, or shoulder, joint.
The biceps brachii weakly assists in forward flexion of the shoulder joint (bringing the arm forward and upwards). It may also contribute to abduction (bringing the arm out to the side) when the arm is externally (or laterally) rotated.
The short head of the biceps brachii also assists with horizontal adduction (bringing the arm across the body) when the arm is internally (or medially) rotated.
Finally, the long head of the biceps brachii, due to its attachment to the scapula (or shoulder blade), assists with stabilization of the shoulder joint when a heavy weight is carried in the arm.

Bicep Exercises

Although the exercises differ, a common factor of each is a 'curling' motion, where a weight is moved through an arc, primarily using the strength of the biceps.
The fullest range of motion is when the elbows begin in full extension, in a supine grip.
The biceps contract to lift the weight upward through an arc, to a point where further movement is not possible.
Some think it important that the elbow remain next to the body during this motion to keep stress on the biceps.
Others will either bring the elbows forward (to fully shorten the biceps) or bring the elbows back (a "drag curl", to avoid over-active insufficiency and keep parallel forearms) to vary the tensions placed on the biceps and other elbow flexors
The second part of the motion has the elbow joint extending, this is called the 'eccentric' portion.
The weight is lowered back to the start position.
This contraction and extension together constitute a single repetition.
As with most weight training exercises, results from biceps exercises can be maximized with a proper understanding of flexion.

Recommended exercises include:

'concentration curl' where the elbow is braced against the inside of the knee
'preacher curl' where the elbows rest upon a sloped bench
dumbbell curl


Triceps Brachii


The triceps brachii muscle (Latin for "three-headed arm muscle") is the large muscle on the back of the upper limb of many vertebrates. It is the muscle principally responsible for extension of the elbow joint (straightening of the arm).
It is sometimes called a three-headed muscle because there are three bundles of muscles, each of different origins, joining together at the elbow.
Though a similarly named muscle, the triceps surae, is found on the lower leg, the triceps brachii is commonly called the triceps.
The long head arises from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. It extends distally anterior to the teres minor and posterior to the teres major.
The medial head arises distally from the groove of the radial nerve; from the dorsal (back) surface of the humerus; from the medial intermuscular septum; and its distal part also arises from the lateral intermuscular septum.
The medial head is mostly covered by the lateral and long heads, and is only visible distally on the humerus.
The lateral head arises from the dorsal surface of the humerus, lateral and proximal to the groove of the radial nerve, from the greater tubercle down to the region of the lateral intermuscular septum.
Each of the three fascicles has its own motorneuron subnucleus in the motor column in the spinal cord.
The medial head is formed predominantly by small type I fibers and motor units, the lateral head of large type IIb fibers and motor units and the long head of a mixture of fiber types and motor units.
The fibers converge to a single tendon to insert onto the olecranon process of the ulna (though some research indicates that there may be more than one tendon) and to the posterior wall of the capsule of the elbow joint where bursae (cushion sacks) are often found.
Parts of the common tendon radiates into the fascia of the forearm and can almost cover the anconeus.

Actions

The triceps is an extensor muscle of the elbow joint and an antagonist of the biceps and brachialis muscles.
It can also fixate the elbow joint when the forearm and hand are used for fine movements, e.g., when writing.
It has been suggested that the long head fascicle is employed when sustained force generation is demanded, or when there is a need for a synergistic control of the shoulder and elbow or both.
The lateral head is used for movements requiring occasional high-intensity force, while the medial fascicle enables more precise, low-force movements.
With its origin on the scapula, the long head also acts on the shoulder joint and is also involved in retroversion and adduction of the arm.

Triceps Exercises


The triceps can be worked through either isolation or compound elbow extension movements and can contract statically to keep the arm straightened against resistance.
Isolation movements include cable push-downs, lying triceps extensions and arm extensions behind the back.
Examples of compound elbow extension include pressing movements like the push up, bench press, close grip bench press (flat, incline or decline), military press and dips.
A closer grip targets the triceps more than wider grip movements.
Static contraction movements include pullovers, straight-arm pulldowns and bent-over lateral raises, which are also used to build the deltoids and latissimus dorsi.
It is important to maintain a balance between the biceps and triceps for postural and effective movement purposes.


Shoulder Muscle (Deltoid)


There are a number of small muacles which operate the shoulder joint, but the most significant shoulder muscle is the deltoid muscle.
It is called so because it is in the shape of the Greek letter Delta (triangle).
The deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder.
Anatomically, it appears to be made up of three distinct sets of fibers though electromyography suggests that it consists of at least seven groups that can be independently coordinated by the central nervous system.
Deltoid is also further shortened in slang as "delt".
The plural forms of all three incarnations are deltoidei, deltoids and delts.
The deltoid originates in three distinct sets of fibers, often referred to as "heads":
The anterior or clavicular fibers arises from most of the anterior border and upper surface of the lateral third of the clavicle.
The anterior origin lies adjacent to the lateral fibers of the pectoralis major muscle as do the end tendons of both muscles.
These muscle fibers are closely related and only a small chiasmatic space, through which the cephalic vein passes, prevents the two muscles from forming a continuous muscle mass.
The anterior deltoid are commonly called front delts for short.
Lateral or acromial fibers arise from the superior surface of the acromion process.
They are commonly called lateral deltoid
This muscle is also called middle delts, outer delts, or side delts for short.
Posterior or spinal fibers arise from the lower lip of the posterior border of the spine of the scapula.
They are commonly called posterior deltoid or rear deltoid (rear delts for short ).
From this extensive origin the fibers converge toward their insertion on the deltoid tuberosity on the middle of the lateral aspect of the shaft of the humerus; the middle fibers passing vertically, the anterior obliquely backward and laterally, and the posterior obliquely forward and laterally.
Though traditionally described as a single insertion, the deltoid insertion is divided into two or three discernible areas corresponding to the muscle's three areas of origin.
The insertion is an arch-like structure with strong anterior and posterior fascial connections flanking an intervening tissue bridge.
It additionally give off extensions to the deep brachial fascia. Furthermore, the deltoid fascia contributes to the brachial fascia and is connected to the medial and lateral intermuscular septa.

Action of the Deltoid Muscle

When all its fibers contract simultaneously, the deltoid is the prime mover of arm abduction along the frontal plane.
The arm must be medially rotated for the deltoid to have maximum effect.
This makes the deltoid an antagonist muscle of the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi during arm adduction.
The anterior fibers are involved in shoulder abduction when the shoulder is externally rotated.
The anterior deltoid is weak in strict transverse flexion but assists the pectoralis major during shoulder transverse flexion / shoulder flexion (elbow slightly inferior to shoulders).
The anterior deltoid also works in tandem with the subscapularis, pecs and lats to internally (medially) rotate the humerus.
The posterior fibers are strongly involved in transverse extension particularly as the latissimus dorsi is very weak in strict transverse extension. Other transverse extensors, the infraspinatus and teres minor, also work in tandem with the posterior deltoid as external (lateral) rotators, antagonists to strong internal rotators like the pecs and lats. The posterior deltoid is also the primary shoulder hyperextensor, moreso than the long head of the triceps which also assists in this function.
The lateral fibers perform basic shoulder abduction when the shoulder is internally rotated, and perform shoulder transverse abduction when the shoulder is externally rotated. They are not utilized significantly during strict transverse extension (shoulder internally rotated) such as in rowing movements, which use the posterior fibers.
An important function of the deltoid in humans is stopping: preventing the dislocation of the humeral head when a person carries heavy loads.
The function of abduction also means that it would help keep carried objects a safer distance away from the thighs to avoid hitting them, such as during a farmer's walk. It also ensures a precise and rapid movement of the glenohumeral joint needed for hand and arm manipulation.
The lateral fibers are in the most efficient position to perform this role, though like basic abduction movements (such as lateral raise) it is assisted by simultaneous co-contraction of anterior/posterior fibers.
In both the carrying of heavy loads and in lateral raises, the deltoid often contracts in tandem with scapular elevators such as the levator scapulae, upper trapezius or serratus anterior.
By pulling the clavicle and scapulae up, it reduces compression and possibly impingement on the inferior borders so it doesn't press as much against the uppermost ribs.
The deltoid is responsible for elevating the arm in the scapular plane and its contraction in doing this also elevates the humeral head.
To stop this compressing against the undersurface of the acromion the humeral head and injuring the supraspinatus tendon, there is a simultaneous contraction of some of the muscles of the rotator cuff: the infraspinatus and subscapularis primarily perform this role.
In spite of this there may be still a 1–3 mm upward movement of the head of the humerus during the first 30° to 60° of arm elevation.

Deltoid Exercises

The lateral raise works the deltoid muscle of the shoulder.

The movement starts with the arms straight, and the hands holding weights at the sides or in front of the body. Arms are kept straight or slightly bent, and raised through an arc of movement in the coronal plane that terminates when the hands are at approximately shoulder height.
Weights are lowered to the starting position, completing one "rep".


When using a cable machine the individual stands with the coronal plane in line with the pulley, which is at or near the ground.
The exercise can be completed one shoulder at a time (with the other hand used to stabilize the body against the weight moved), or with both hands simultaneously if two parallel pulleys are available.
This movement, when the shoulder is kept in neutral rotation, primarily targets the middle head of the deltoid. The anterior (front) and posterior (back) heads of the deltoid will also co-contract to aid in the abduction function.
If the shoulder is laterally (externally, outwardly) rotated, the anterior deltoid becomes the prime mover of the glenohumeral joint, the posterior deltoid de-activates, and the middle head assists.

A similar exercise is upright rowing.


The upright row is a weight training exercise performed by holding a grips with the overhand grip and lifting it straight up to the collarbone.
This is a compound exercise that involves the trapezius, the deltoids and the biceps.

Upright Rowing with a Cable Machine





The narrower the grip the more the trapezius muscles are exercised, as opposed to the deltoids.
Barbells, Dumbbells, an EZ Curl bar, or a cable machine can be used.




Upright Rowing with Smith Machine
(reccomended)








The Trapezius Muscle


The trapezius is a large superficial muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae and laterally to the spine of the scapula (shoulder blade). Its functions are to move the scapulae and support the arm.
The trapezius has three functional regions: the superior region (descending part), which supports the weight of the arm; the intermediate region (transverse part), which retracts the scapulae; and the inferior region (ascending part), which medially rotates and depresses the scapulae.
The superior or upper fibers of the trapezius arise from the external occipital protuberance, the medial third of the superior nuchal line of the occipital bone (both in the back of the head), and the ligamentum nuchae.
From this origin they proceed downward and laterally to be inserted into the posterior border of the lateral third of the clavicle.
The middle fibers of the trapezius arise from the spinous process of the seventh cervical (both in the back of the neck), and the spinous processes of the first, second and third thoracic vertebrae.
They are inserted into the medial margin of the acromion, and into the superior lip of the posterior border of the spine of the scapula.
The inferior or lower fibers of the trapezius arise from the spinous processes of the remaining thoracic vertebrae (T4-T12).
From this origin they proceed upward and laterally to converge near the scapula and end in an aponeurosis, which glides over the smooth triangular surface on the medial end of the spine, to be inserted into a tubercle at the apex of this smooth triangular surface.
At its occipital origin, the trapezius is connected to the bone by a thin fibrous lamina, firmly adherent to the skin. The superficial and deep epimysia are continuous with an investing deep fascia that encircles the neck and also contains both sternocleidomastoid muscles.
At the middle, the muscle is connected to the spinous processes by a broad semi-elliptical aponeurosis, which reaches from the sixth cervical to the third thoracic vertebræ and forms, with that of the opposite muscle, a tendinous ellipse. The rest of the muscle arises by numerous short tendinous fibers.

Actions and Exercises

Contraction of the trapezius muscle can have two effects: movement of the scapulae when the spinal origins are stable, and movement of the spine when the scapulae are stable.
The upper portion of the trapezius can be developed by elevating the shoulders.
Common exercises for this movement are shoulder shrugs and upright rowing (using cables or a Smith Machine - see above).

Middle fibers are developed by pulling shoulder blades together.
This adduction also uses the upper/lower fibers too.
The lower part can be developed by drawing the shoulder blades downward while keeping the arms almost straight and stiff.
It is mainly used in throwing, with the deltoid muscles.
The upper and lower trapezius fibers also work in tandem with the serratus anterior to upwardly rotate the scapulae, such as during an Shoulder press (use a shoulder press machine or a Smith Machine).
When activating together, the upper and lower fibers also assist the middle fibers (along with other muscles such as the rhomboids) with scapular retraction/adduction.




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Zac's Fitness for You - Focus on Swimming

     

Zac at the Pool
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

FOCUS ON SWIMMING

In order to combine aerobic with resistance exercise it's a good idea to choose a leisure centre which has a good pool.

Beckenham Spa Swimming Pool
Choosing a Good Swimming Pool

Beckenham Spa Swimming Pool


© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
ZAC says - A swimming pool can be a dangerous place.
When choosing a good swimming pool various factors should be considered :

Is the pool and the surrounding areas, showers, toilets and changing areas clean ?
Is the pool-side free of obstructions ?
Is the pool well designed and well lit ?
Are the 'lifeguards' properly trained and performing their duties correctly ?
Are 'training lanes' regularly available ?
Are the non-swimming areas properly supervised ?

Having found a good swimming pool, (and there are excellent swimming pools available in London at competative prices - the pool above is an example), one should consider one's current state of health.

HEALTH

Tom Daley in the Pool
Tom Daley
Anyone with a history of cardio-vascular disease should be very careful about swimming.
If you haven't swum for some time, take it very easy to begin with.
Any style is satisfactory, although the Butterfly (Fly) or Dolphin Crawl are not recommended except for the experienced.
Speed is not essential. The object of the exercise is to raise the rate of respiration, and the heart rate, for an extended period - but begin very slowly for short periods, taking regular rests.



EQUIPMENT

When you can swim for 30 minutes without too much trouble consider using 'swimming gloves' (available from http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/mcasmith2002).

Swimmers wear gloves during training to increase water resistance, with the webbed fingers spreading wide to create more drag.
The added resistance provides more work for the upper body, giving the shoulders, arms, chest and back an intense workout and toning muscles well beyond normal swimming.
Even the legs are forced to kick harder to propel the body, toning the thighs, hamstrings and calves.
Training with swim gloves builds strength and, in turn, improves a person's swimming stroke, creating smoother movement and enhanced technique for better in-pool performance.
Aside from strengthening muscles, swimming gloves force the entire body to work harder to fight through the added water resistance, intensifying an already effective aerobic workout.
Sustained training with swim gloves will result in increased endurance, since the body's cardiovascular system adapts to the stress placed on it due to the fierce resistance.
Swim Paddles are also available - but because it is impossible to grip the pool-side while wearing them they are not recommended on the grounds of health and safety.

 Wrist Weights
Once it is possible to swim comfortably with swimming gloves, the next step is to use wrist weights (available from http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/mcasmith2002).
These can, at a later date, be combined with swimming gloves to increase the workload while swimming.
Wrist weights, in terms of health and safety, should only be worn by strong, competent swimmers.
One of the main advantages of using these aids is that they can dramatically reduce the time spent in the pool - after all you have better things to do that swim up and down your local leisure centre pool for hours on end.
This high intensity aerobic pool work out will do wonders for your cardio-vascular efficiency, and will ensure good 'definition' and excellent shape for the muscles that you will be building in the gym.

Inevitably the use of gloves and wrist weights causes a degradation of style.

Finis Forearm Fulcrum Device
To counter this the dedicated swimmer should use the 'Finis Forearm Fulcrum Device'.
http://stores.ebay.co.uk/theraquatics?_trksid=p2047675.l2563),
This device is used to improves the efficiency of a swimmer's stroke by holding the wrist, elbow, and shoulder at the optimal position while focusing on technique development.
The Finis Forearm Fulcrum device is designed to improve the stroke technique across swimmers of all levels.
• the device has two closed sections, one of the sections fits around the forearm, with the swimmer placing their hand in the other closed section
• The process of placing their hand through the two sections creates an ideal elbow/wrist angle during the phase of stroke initiation
• The act of creating this angle corrects the stroke technique of the user by teaching 'muscle memory'.

for more information open this link in a new tab
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDd0FKLFFaA

The device should be used for a short period during every training session where weights and/or gloves are used.

What to Wear in the Pool


Zac at the Pool
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Zac says ...... What you wear when you exercise is extremely important.
'That's me .. Zac Sawyer !'
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
It is part of your mental preparation for your workout.
You can feel good by looking good, and feeling good will undoubtedly improve your overall performance while you train.



Like Stewie - always try to look 'cool'.







FOR THE LADIES

For the ladies - DO NOT wear a bikini.
Bikinis are for sunbathing - not exercising.
Real athletes (and you will be a real athlete) wear professional gear.
For ladies the premier label is, of course, Speedo, who produce well designed professional swimsuits
For that really professional look there is a 'body skin' which is a cover-all ladies swimsuit which manages to be devastatingly attractive, while also being practical and extremely efficient in the pool.
This style of ladies swimwear is also highly suitable for ladies who have to consider religious sensibilities when undertaking pool-based exercise.



FOR MEN




Zac says ....... get some good swimwear -
as nude bathing is not allowed in most pools !

DO NOT Wear floppy so-called 'board shorts' (you are not surfing),
which are probably more suitable for gardening.


'Board shorts' are the prerogative of 'chavs' and others with no sense of fashion or design.






JAMMERS



'Jammers' are acceptable.
A jammer is a style of swimsuit used mainly in competition to obtain speed advantages.
They are made of nylon and lycra/spandex material and have a form fitting design to reduce water resistance.
They are usually more expensive than 'speedo-style' swimming trunks, but are not very flattering to the male physique, and are gradually going out of fashion.

They provide moderate coverage from the mid-waist to the area above the knee, somewhat resembling cycling shorts or compression shorts worn by many athletes.

It is wise to wear a swimmer's 'jock-strap', 'micro-briefs' or a 'thong' (see string 'micro-brief' left and 'thong' right) underneath Jammers.
They provide greater leg coverage than swim briefs and square leg suits, although they also have slightly more water resistance.)
(available from http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/directsnowequipment)





LEG SKINS



More professional swimwear for men and boys are 'leg-skins'.
A Leg-skin is a type of competitive swimwear worn by male swimmers.
Most leg-skins (available from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/zetessports) are made of technologically advanced lycra-based fabrics designed to hug the body tightly and provide increased speed and decreased drag resistance in the water.
The leg-skin covers from the swimmer's mid-waist to his ankle and resembles leggings.
The disadvantages of leg-skins is that they are difficult and time-consuming to put on, and are also very, very expensive.
Leg-skins also benefit from the wearing of a swimmer's 'jock-strap', 'micro-briefs' or a 'thong' (see right) underneath.
(available from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/2011dress).





LOW RISE RACING BIKINI BRIEFS

Tom Daley - Speedo Briefs
Seobean Men's Low Rise Swimwear

For the daring and confident, (a good physique is essential, so perhaps these can be invested in when your training begins to show results), the most comfortable and efficient swimwear are 'Japan-cut' bikini briefs, as produced by Toot, Seobean, Gabriel Homme and Speedo.
Often referred to as 'low-rise', they sit very low on the hips, with narrow sides, and are not suitable for men who are very hairy, unless they are prepared to shave.






If you are hairy, and wear 'Speedos',
like Zac, you may have to shave !
Gabriel Homme Silver Low Rise Briefs
Gabriel Homme trunks are the most daring of these styles, and are examples of 'haute couture' French fashion design.
(available at http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/iambonnuk)
This style of men's swimwear is now increasing in popularity, encouraged by such design houses as Armani, and the considerable publicity given to British Olympic Diver Tom Daley.
Seoban (Chinese) are particularly recommended as the construction, utilising up to seven disparate elements, ensures excellent fit, and excellent support.
(Seobean available from http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/tiancaiyu2010), Speedo (see Tom Daley) and Arena fit less well.(available from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/briefstory).




SWIM GOGGLES

Swim goggles are absolutely essential for long periods in the pool, especially if you swim front crawl with your head down in the water.
'Speedo' goggles are not recommended as they are expensive considering they often leak and 'mist up'.
The best, and most comfortable swim goggles are made by the Chinese company Yingfa.
Their best, and most expensive goggles have mirror lens coatings which make them look very stylish
(available from http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/shuke708).


Of course swimming up and down the pool can get a little boring.
Technology, however, can come to your aid.
To alleviate your boredom Speedo have designed their revolutionary underwater MP3 player, which will keep you happily entertained with your favourite music for nine hours - not that we suggest that you spend that long in the pool.
(available from http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Underwater-Electronics-Shop)






Principles of Swimming

ALWAYS REMEMBER TO STRETCH BEFORE YOU START SWIMMING

Beckenham Spa Swimming Pool
The basic principle of swimming is buoyancy.
The human body has a high water content and its density is close to the density of water.
Due to its cavities (most prominently the lungs), the average density of the human body is lower than that of water, so it naturally floats.
There are two ways to swim faster:
increase power
reduce water resistance
Because the power needed to overcome resistance increases with the third power of the velocity, the first option is not really effective.
To increase velocity by 10%, one would need to increase the power by more than 30%.

Balance: how to have a horizontal water position

Due to the lungs, the centre of buoyancy and the centre of gravity of the human body are not the same. Therefore the lower body has a tendency to sink.
If the body is not horizontal but even slightly inclined, the area it offers to drag is much higher, leading to higher resistance.
An easy way to stay horizontal is to lean forward and position the head straight in the extension of the spine.
In this position the eyes are directed straight downward and the head is more immersed (therefore total immersion).
At the water surface, resistance is proportional to the breadth of a boat.
Lying flat on the chest in freestyle or on the back in backstroke exposes the breadth of the body to the water.
Rolling on the side reduces the breadth and the resistance.
In freestyle and backstroke, one should roll from one side to the other in the stroke and glide on the side as much as possible.
When taking breaths, one should take them as little as possible; for beginners it is good to breathe every three strokes and the more trained you are the more strokes in between each breath.

Extended Arm

Sailboats are categorized according to boat length.
This is due to the wave resistance at the surface.
According to Froude, a naval architect in the 19th century, a body moving at the surface of the water creates a wave.
The length of the wave depends on the speed. 
The faster the boat, the longer the wave.
Froude found that resistance goes up dramatically when the wave length reaches the length of the boat.
There is a simple formula connecting wave velocity to wave length (dispersion equation, metric):
Here c is the velocity of the wave in m/s, g is the gravitational acceleration (9.81 m/s2), and l is the wave length in m.
If the maximum swimming speed of c=2.1 m/s is entered, one gets a length of l=2.82 m.
This is about the length of a 2 m swimmer with extended arms.
So the longer you can glide with the extended arm the less wave resistance.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Swimming  Styles

In competitive swimming, four major styles have been established.
The four main strokes in swimming are:

Front Crawl
Breaststroke
Backstroke
Butterfly

The Front Crawl

The front crawl is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes.
It is one of two long axis strokes, the other one being the backstroke.
This style is sometimes referred to as the Australian crawl.
For details of the stroke see images below

Arm Movement

The arm movement alternates from side to side. In other words, while one arm is pulling/pushing, the other arm is recovering.
The arm strokes also provide most of the forward movement.
The move can be separated into three parts: the downsweep, the insweep and the upsweep.
From the initial position, the arm sinks slightly lower and the palm of the hand turns 45 degrees with the thumb side of the palm towards the bottom.
This is called catching the water and prepares for the pull.
The pull movement follows a semicircle, with the elbow higher than the hand, and the hand pointing towards the body centre and downward.
The semicircle ends in front of the chest at the beginning of the ribcage.
The push pushes the palm backward through the water underneath the body at the beginning and at the side of the body at the end of the push.
This pull and push is also known as the S-curve.
Sometime after the beginning of the pull, the other arm begins its recovery.
The recovery moves the elbow in a semicircle in a vertical plane in the swimming direction.
The lower arm and the hand are completely relaxed and hang down from the elbow close to the water surface and close to the swimmer's body.
The beginning of the recovery looks similar to pulling the hand out of the back pocket of a pair of pants, with the small finger upwards.
Further into the recovery phase, the hand movement has been compared to pulling up a center zip on a wetsuit.
The recovering hand moves forward, with the fingers trailing downward, just above the surface of the water. In the middle of the recovery one shoulder is rotated forward into the air while the other is pointing backwards to avoid drag due to the large frontal area which at this specific time is not covered by the arm.
To rotate the shoulder, some twist their torso while others also rotate everything down to their feet.
Beginners often make the mistake of not relaxing the arm during the recovery and of moving the hand too high and too far away from the body, in some cases even higher than the elbow.
In these cases, drag and incidental muscle effort is increased at the expense of speed.
Beginners often forget to use their shoulders to let the hand enter as far forward as possible.
Some say the hand should enter the water thumb first, reducing drag through possible turbulence, others say the middle finger is first with the hand precisely bent down, giving thrust right from the start.
At the beginning of the pull, the hand acts like a wing and is moved slower than the swimmer while at the end it acts like an oar and is moved faster than the swimmer.
A recreational variation of front crawl involves only one arm moving at any one time, while the other arm rests and is stretched out at the front.
This style is called a "catch up" stroke and requires more strength for swimming.
This is because the hand is beginning the pull from a stationary position rather than a dynamic one.
This style is slower than the regular front crawl and is rarely used competitively: however, it is often used for training purposes by swimmers, as it increases the body's awareness of being streamlined in the water.
Total Immersion is a similar technique.


Leg Movement

The leg movement in freestyle is called the flutter kick.
The legs move alternately, with one leg kicking downward while the other leg moves upward.
While the legs provide only a small part of the overall speed, they are important to stabilize the body position.
This lack of balance is apparent when using a pull buoy to neutralize the leg action.
The leg in the initial position bends very slightly at the knees, and then kicks the lower leg and the foot downwards similar to kicking a football.
The legs may be bent inward (or occasionally outward) slightly.
After the kick, the straight leg moves back up.
A frequent mistake of beginners is to bend the legs too much or to kick too much out of the water.
Ideally, there are 6 kicks per cycle, although it is also possible to use 8, 4, or even 2 kicks.
When one arm is pushed down, the opposite leg needs to do a downward kick also, to fix the body orientation, because this happens shortly after the body rotation.
Alternatively, (but not recomended for aerobic exercise) front crawl can also be swum with a butterfly (dolphin) kick, although this reduces the stability of the swimming position.

Breathing

Normally, the face is in the water during front crawl with eyes looking at the lower part of the wall in front of the pool, with the waterline between the brow line and the hairline.
Breaths are taken through the mouth by turning the head to the side of a recovering arm at the beginning of the recovery, and breathing in the triangle between the upper arm, lower arm, and the waterline.
The swimmer's forward movement will cause a bow wave with a trough in the water surface near the ears.
After turning the head, a breath can be taken in this trough without the need to move the mouth above the average water surface.
A thin film of water running down the head can be blown away just before the intake.
The head is rotated back at the end of the recovery and points down and forward again when the recovered hand enters the water.
The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose until the next breath.
Breathing out through the nose may help to prevent water from entering the nose.
Swimmers with allergies exacerbated by time in the pool should not expect exhaling through the nose to completely prevent intranasal irritation.
Standard swimming calls for one breath every third arm recovery or every 1.5 cycles, alternating the sides for breathing.
Some swimmers instead take a breath every cycle, i.e., every second arm recovery, breathing always to the same side.
Most competition swimmers will breathe every other stroke, or once a cycle, to a preferred side.
However some swimmers can breathe comfortably to both sides.
Sprinters will often breathe a predetermined number of times in an entire race.
Elite sprinters will breathe once or even no times during a fifty metre race.
For a one hundred metre race sprinters will often breathe every four strokes, once every two cycles, or will start with every four strokes and finish with every two strokes.

Body Movement

The body rotates about its long axis with every arm stroke so that the shoulder of the recovering arm is higher than the shoulder of the pushing/pulling arm.
This makes the recovery much easier and reduces the need to turn the head to breathe.
As one shoulder is out of the water, it reduces drag, and as it falls it aids the arm catching the water; as the other shoulder rises it aids the arm at end of the push to leave the water.
Side-to-side movement is kept to a minimum: one of the main functions of the leg kick is to maintain the line of the body.

The Breast Stroke

The breaststroke is a swimming style in which the swimmer is on his or her chest and the torso does not rotate.
It is the most popular recreational style due to its stability and the ability to keep the head out of the water a large portion of the time.
In most swimming classes, beginners learn either the breaststroke or the front crawl first.
Since the breaststroke can be swum with the eyes almost always above water, it is important in lifesaving, as it allows the rescuer to approach the victim without losing sight of them.
However, in competitive swimming, the breaststroke is regarded as one of the most difficult strokes, requiring comparable endurance and leg strength to other strokes.
The stroke itself is the slowest of any competitive strokes and thought to be the oldest of all swimming strokes.

Speed and Ergonomics

Breaststroke is the slowest of the four official styles in competitive swimming.
The fastest breaststrokers can swim about 1.57 metres per second.
Although it is the slowest of the four competitive strokes, it is commonly agreed that it is by far the most difficult to do correctly.
It is also often the hardest to teach to rising swimmers after butterfly due to the importance of timing and the coordination required to move the legs properly.
In the breaststroke, the swimmer leans on the chest, arms breaking the surface of the water slightly, legs always underwater and the head underwater for the second half of the stroke.
The kick is sometimes referred to as a "frog kick" because of the resemblance to the movement of a frog's hind legs; however, when done correctly it is more of a "whip kick" due to the whip-like motion that moves starting at the core down through the legs.
The body is often at a steep angle to the forward movement, which slows down the swimmer more than any other style.
Professional breaststrokers use abdominal muscles and hips to add extra power to the kick, although most do not perfect this technique until the collegiate level.
This much faster form of breaststroke is referred to as "wave-action" breaststroke and fully incorporates the whip-kick.




Arm Movement

There are three steps to the arm movement: outsweep, insweep, and recovery.
The movement starts with the outsweep.
From the initial position, the hands sink a little bit down and the palms face inward, and the hands rotate outward and move apart.
During the outsweep the arms stay almost straight and parallel to the surface.
The outsweep is followed by the insweep, where the hands point down and push the water backwards.
The elbows stay in the horizontal plane through the shoulders.
The hands push back until approximately the vertical plane through the shoulders.
At the end of the insweep the hands come together with facing palms in front of the chest and the elbows are at the side at the body.
In the recovery phase the hands are moved forward again into the initial position under water.
The entire arm stroke starts slowly, increases speed to the peak arm movement speed in the insweep phase, and slows down again during recovery.
The goal is to produce maximum thrust during the insweep phase, and minimum drag during the recovery phase.

Leg Movement

The leg movement, colloquially known as the "frog kick" or "whip kick", consists of two phases: bringing the feet into position for the thrust phase and the insweep phase.
From the initial position with the legs stretched out backward, the feet are moved together towards the posterior, while the knees stay together.
The knees should not sink too low, as this increases the drag.
Then the feet point outward in preparation for the thrust phase. In the thrust phase, the legs are moved elliptically back to the initial position.
During this movement, the knees are kept together.
The legs move slower while bringing the legs into position for the thrust phase, and move very fast during the thrust phase. Again, the goal is produce maximum thrust during the in sweep phase, and minimum drag during the recovery phase. In the recovery phase the lower leg and the feet are in the wake of the upper leg, and the feet are pointed to the rear. In the thrust phase all three parts create their own wake, and the flat end of the feet acts like a hydrofoil aligned to give maximum forward thrust. The resulting drag coefficient (or more precisely the frontal area) is thus doubled in the thrust phase.
A fit adult creates a wake.
Drag due to a wake is Newtonian drag, increasing with the square of the velocity.
For example if the relative speed between the water and the leg is twice as high on the thrust phase than on the recovery phase, the thrust is four times as high as the drag.
Assuming the legs are recovered with a relative speed between leg and body which amounts to the same as the relative speed between water and body, the legs must be kicked back with five times the mean velocity of the swimmer.
This limits the top speed. Both effects together, velocity and frontal area, yield a thrust-to-drag ratio of 8 for the legs.
Breaststroke can also be swum with the dolphin kick in butterfly.
Humans have strong muscles in the legs and would need swim fins (like a frog) to bring all their power into the water and stand with the sole of the feet on the water.
Rather the leg grabs almost as much water as the foot and a small amount of water is accelerated to high kinetic energy, but not much impulse is transferred.
The toes are bent, the feet point 45° outwards, the sole points backwards, to mimic a hydrofoil.
While closing in a V shape to the rear a small “lifting” force can be felt.
Unlike in the other kicks, the joints are moved into extrema.
Before the kick the knee is maximally bent and the upper leg is rotating along its axis to its extreme outer position and the lower leg is twisted to extreme, at the end of the kick the ankles are maximally turned to the inside so that the soles clap together to achieve a nozzle effect like in a jelly fish.
Therefore training involves getting flexible in addition to fitness and precision.

Breathing

The easiest way to breathe during breaststroke is to let the head follow the spine.
When your elbows have reached the line of your eye and have begun to rise, your head starts to lift. If you use your high elbows as a hinge for the inward sweep of your hands and forearms, you'll create the leverage you need to use your abdominal muscles to bring your hips forward.
When your hips move forward, your chest, shoulders and upper back will automatically lift up.
Breathing is usually done during the beginning of the insweep phase of the arms, and the swimmer breathes in ideally through the mouth.
The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose during the recovery and gliding phase.
Recreational swimmers often keep their head above water at all times when they swim breaststroke, but this is not recommended for aerobic exercise.

Body Movement

The movement starts in the initial position with the body completely straight, body movement is co-ordinated such that the legs are ready for the thrust phase while the arms are halfway through the insweep, and the head is out of the water for breathing.
In this position the body has also the largest angle to the horizontal.
The arms are recovered during the thrust phase of the legs. After the stroke the body is kept in the initial position for some time to utilize the gliding phase.
Depending on the distance and fitness the duration of this gliding phase varies.
Usually the gliding phase is shorter during sprints than during long distance swimming.
The gliding phase is also longer during the underwater stroke after the start and each turn.
However, the gliding phase is usually the longest phase in one entire cycle of breaststroke.

Backstroke and Butterfly are not recommended for your aerobic training


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 © Copyright Zac Sawyer 2017


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© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
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