Female swimmers typically have a muscular body type with a broad back and strong shoulders. This body type is advantageous for swimming. However, during the off season, many female swimmers slim down, desiring not to maintain a muscular physique. It is common for female swimmers to slim down by switching from weight training to cardio in order to avoid putting on any extra muscle.
Female swimmers often weight train during competition season to increase lean muscle mass, which is needed to propel through the water. Redesign your weight-training sessions to reduce the amount of weight you train with, says David Salo, author of "Complete Conditioning for Swimming." Salo recommends reducing the amount of weight you use by 50 percent. For example, if you bench press 150 pounds during competition season, reduce that amount to 75 pounds. Avoid doing more than three sets of 10 reps, says Salo.
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Reduce Protein Consumption
During competition season, you must consume enough protein to support your muscular body type. If you continue to consume the same amount of protein during the off season, you might have difficulties slimming down, according to Bill Sweetenham, author of "Championship Swim Training." Reducing your protein helps you shed unneeded muscle. A general rule of thumb for slimming down is to cut your protein intake in half, explains Sweetenham.
When you reduce your protein intake, some of your muscle will be converted to fat because there is not enough protein to maintain it, explains Salo. Cardio is effective for fat burning. Furthermore, cardio does not stimulate or contribute to the growth of new muscle, which is important for slimming down a muscular figure. If you have a sports trainer, talk to him about designing a cardio regimen for you to follow.
What to Avoid
If your back and shoulders are bulky and you want to reduce their size, avoid exercises that work those areas, says Sweetenham. The goal is to trim down your shoulders and back so you appear less bulky. You can continue to train your abdominals, legs and arms, but avoid using heavy weights. You want to avoid adding new muscle, explains Sweetenham.