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Old 12-13-2012
craig.arnold@gmail.com craig.arnold@gmail.com is offline
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craig.arnold@gmail.com
Default Swimming and bodyfat %

Just interested.

Of course top swimmers, like all top athletes, are very lean. As I may have mentioned before, not only am I not a top athlete, I'm not even an average athlete.

I have good co-ordination and reflexes, so as a youth was quite a good fencer. This is why the TI neurologic approach to swimming resonates so well. But I've never been a runner, even at my lightest was never much more than average even though I used to run 5km 4-5 times a week. However it's been quite a while since I've done 5km. At the gym I just do 2km on a treadmill and some weights, this is when I'm training, which I'm not really at the moment, only swimming. I will do some out-of-pool fitness work as we move towards the summer to get extra cardio fitness and strength to help with the racing season.

My basic approach is that I would rather spend my swim time on my stroke, and that extra cardio work is quite efficiently done by running or circuit training.

Now I am about 184cm, and mostly hovered around 100kg for the last 7-8 years. And having recently bought the 4-hour body after Terry's reference to Tim Ferris I'm sure I could lose weight again if sufficiently motivated.

I have had periods in my life where I have followed very calorie restricted diets and got down to around 85kg for a couple of years at a time. But eventually I always get tired of being constantly starving. When I was 20 I managed to get right down to 78kg, but then had an epileptic seizure - probably not related, but the doctor told me that only eating every other day was something I should stop immediately.

My basic body type is meso-endo, muscular but tending to fat, reasonably strong with broad shoulders and powerful legs. Slow twitch though, like my brother my favourite exercise apart from swimming is walking, which I can do for hours, and can manage a heavy pack too.

Now as I say, I know I can if motivated get my bodyfat down to "normal" BMI levels from overweight. Recent evidence I believe suggests there are no health advantages to doing so, but it does seem logical that if I could drop 15kg (10kg fat and 5kg muscle) it might make hauling myself up and down the pool a little easier. But whales and walruses are quite fat, and fat seems to be floaty, so is it really worth it?

Also what used to be a very embarrassing body shape when I was 12 is now fairly normal for even a fairly active man of 44, so it's not particularly an aesthetic thing (People have stopped making fun of me, and it's been ages since they fled in horror! I also figured out that when trying to attract supermodels - which I'm not in case my wife reads this - money is far more effective than a six-pack, erm not that I have much of that either, but if I wanted one I'd spend my efforts on getting rich, not in shape.). My bodyshape has improved a lot over the last 3 years of swimming though, and it has been far more effective than traditional weight training ever was.

Last edited by craig.arnold@gmail.com : 12-13-2012 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 12-13-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Default Don't do it for the swimming

Quote:
Originally Posted by craig.arnold@gmail.com View Post
Just interested.

Of course top swimmers, like all top athletes, are very lean. As I may have mentioned before, not only am I not a top athlete, I'm not even an average athlete.

I have good co-ordination and reflexes, so as a youth was quite a good fencer. This is why the TI neurologic approach to swimming resonates so well. But I've never been a runner, even at my lightest was never much more than average even though I used to run 5km 4-5 times a week. However it's been quite a while since I've done 5km. At the gym I just do 2km on a treadmill and some weights, this is when I'm training, which I'm not really at the moment, only swimming. I will do some out-of-pool fitness work as we move towards the summer to get extra cardio fitness and strength to help with the racing season.

My basic approach is that I would rather spend my swim time on my stroke, and that extra cardio work is quite efficiently done by running or circuit training.

Now I am about 184cm, and mostly hovered around 100kg for the last 7-8 years. And having recently bought the 4-hour body after Terry's reference to Tim Ferris I'm sure I could lose weight again if sufficiently motivated.

I have had periods in my life where I have followed very calorie restricted diets and got down to around 85kg for a couple of years at a time. But eventually I always get tired of being constantly starving. When I was 20 I managed to get right down to 78kg, but then had an epileptic seizure - probably not related, but the doctor told me that only eating every other day was something I should stop immediately.

My basic body type is meso-endo, muscular but tending to fat, reasonably strong with broad shoulders and powerful legs. Slow twitch though, like my brother my favourite exercise apart from swimming is walking, which I can do for hours, and can manage a heavy pack too.

Now as I say, I know I can if motivated get my bodyfat down to "normal" BMI levels from overweight. Recent evidence I believe suggests there are no health advantages to doing so, but it does seem logical that if I could drop 15kg (10kg fat and 5kg muscle) it might make hauling myself up and down the pool a little easier. But whales and walruses are quite fat, and fat seems to be floaty, so is it really worth it?

Also what used to be a very embarrassing body shape when I was 12 is now fairly normal for even a fairly active man of 44, so it's not particularly an aesthetic thing (People have stopped making fun of me, and it's been ages since they fled in horror! I also figured out that when trying to attract supermodels - which I'm not in case my wife reads this - money is far more effective than a six-pack, erm not that I have much of that either, but if I wanted one I'd spend my efforts on getting rich, not in shape.). My bodyshape has improved a lot over the last 3 years of swimming though, and it has been far more effective than traditional weight training ever was.
Craig,

I too have had lots of weight levels in my adult life.

Age
18-21 sixth form and university average 95kg
21-27 last year of uni and corporate life in London, good diet, lots of exercise and frontman in a band 78-80kg
27-35 Professional musician in Norway, no exercise, back up to 95kg
35-39 6 months a year at 81kg, 6 months a year eating junk and going up to 90kg

Since starting triathlon training after this summer I realised running is tough for heavy people so have been back on a paleo/blood type O diet. High protein, low carb, lots of organic veg, ginger, garlic, parsley, sea fish, good nuts beetroot and lots of water. Well that's Monday to Friday, the weekend I eat whatever I want or whatever I am given, chocolate, crisps, lasagne but not much bread or pasta its too savage.

This is a lifestyle diet that I can happily maintain without loss of motivation or nutritional boredom, but you do need to get into cooking a bit, but cooking is very compatible with TI brains, try some foods together and then refine.

So now I'm lingering on around 82kg again and I love it, not because of the training benefit but because of the amount of energy I have.

The low carb diet, I believe, done carefully and thoughtfully gives you such a consistent mood and blood sugar that it changes your whole lust for life.

I also think that if I have the energy for 14 plus hours tri training a week and am achieving steady progress then my diet is working for me. I also make sure I have my special triathlon cake on hand so if I need to eat something post training or at any time of the day, its a tasty nutritonal snack rather than a sugar rich energy sapping time bomb.

Eating well needs three things, some food knowledge, a bit of planning, and full fridges.

The last month my swimming has been leaping forward, I have learnt to maintain intervals without getting breathless and I am physically aware of my form improvements in terms of balance, symmetry and feel for the water.

The weight loss is part of this for me, it helps me get better quicker as I have more energy and better recovery times, but my weight is a bi-product of the food I eat, so really I am saying Eating well helps my swimming not my actual weight.

Stu middleman ( i think that's his name) has a stunning book called 'slow burn' that introduced this way of thinking to me and has had a similar effect on my understanding of food as TI has had on my understanding of life. I think Grant has referenced this one in the past too.

I'll be in Ealing tomorrow but don't think I'll fit in any pool time as have a big list of things to sort out during the day, but then again I might sneak into the 50m pool in hillingdon on the way home for 45 minutes.
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  #3  
Old 12-13-2012
aquarius aquarius is offline
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aquarius
Default Buoyancy

Fat is actually an advantage for swimming (better buoyancy, making balance much easier), and weight is not an issue (as it is for runners).

I've often wondered in what proportions buoyancy varies from one individual to another. I'm sure there have been studies on the question, but where?

Does anyone have any actual figures?

Thanks.
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Old 12-13-2012
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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If fat really were an advantage in swimming we would see fat swimmers lined up in the Olympics, World Championships and similar events. In fact we see lean swimmers, most of them above average height with long limbs and big feet. The smaller ones can also be successful as we have seen, but in general the good big one beats the good little one.

As a somewhat endomporphic mesomorph I have battled against the tendency to gain weight over the years, with better success since taking up regular swimming. Like many I find that a high protein, low sugar diet works best but it is possible to gain weight on a healthy diet if you eat too much of it.

In my youth I used to run a bit but was no good at it and now I would much rather walk or swim. I may occasionally break into a trot for a hundred yards or so, rather in the style of Baden Powell's scout's pace.

The bike, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is whispering in my ear.
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Old 12-14-2012
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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A good example of a good little one (apart from the famous Janet Evans) is Noémie Thomas of Canada, who has just broken the Canadian record for 50m butterfly in the heats and equalled it in the semis of the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul and is in fourth position for the final.

I must check the results and see how she's done.
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Old 12-14-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richardsk View Post
If fat really were an advantage in swimming we would see fat swimmers lined up in the Olympics, World Championships and similar events. In fact we see lean swimmers, most of them above average height with long limbs and big feet. The smaller ones can also be successful as we have seen, but in general the good big one beats the good little one.
The reason why it's not the case is that volume comes along with fat. Now make no mistake. I've seen top level swimmers (Olympian finalist - 1) who clearly looked far more like your typical beach lover tourist (out of shape that is) than an actual Olympian. So it's true that swimming forgives far more on that aspect compared to running, cycling (road cycling that is) and triathlon.

I can't think of any study having been done testing the buoyancy of elite athletes. But based on anecdotal evidence, I'd say it ranges from pure sinkers to perfect balance, the later being far more rare than the former.

(1) http://www.radio-canada.ca/athenes/c...813Giguere.asp

gees, I wish she never reads that post Let us simply put it this way: Her balance was perfect

Last edited by CharlesCouturier : 12-14-2012 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 12-14-2012
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Default

The reason why it's not the case is that volume comes along with fat. Now make no mistake. I've seen top level swimmers (Olympian finalist - 1) who clearly looked far more like your typical beach lover tourist (out of shape that is) than an actual Olympian. So it's true that swimming forgives far more on that aspect compared to running, cycling (road cycling that is) and triathlon.

Charles, I am sure you are 100% correct about this and I confess I know more about running than swimming but there is one aspect of fat that seems to me not to be taken into consideration in swimming. Fat isn't just dead weight that can be supported by water. Fat is live tissue and the body has to form capillaries through it to convey the blood to keep it alive? Surely a heart is more usefully employed pumping as much blood/oxygen to the working muscles as possible rather than having to pump some through these capillaries into flab tissue to keep it alive?

Suzanne, am I right or wrong about this, please?

Martin T.
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Old 12-14-2012
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Default

Distance swimming, such as channel swimming, is one of the areas where a bit of extra body fat is probably helpful. I am acquainted with three successful English Channel swimmers and only one of them could be considered a bit on the chubby side - in fact quite a bit. I believe one of the others deliberately fattened up for her swim , but still looked pretty svelte to judge from the video I've seen.

For recreational swimming, or even for masters competition, a bit of extra subcutaneous fat doesn't seem to be a severe handicap, but still the setters of world records seem to tend to the slender build, some with perhaps a small paunch in the older age groups. ;-) .

The possibilities of improving the drag profile are probably limited as far as dieting and exercise are concerned, but I suppose every little helps and I'm aiming to drop a few kilogrammes.
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Old 12-15-2012
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Parrot View Post
The reason why it's not the case is that volume comes along with fat. Now make no mistake. I've seen top level swimmers (Olympian finalist - 1) who clearly looked far more like your typical beach lover tourist (out of shape that is) than an actual Olympian. So it's true that swimming forgives far more on that aspect compared to running, cycling (road cycling that is) and triathlon.

Charles, I am sure you are 100% correct about this and I confess I know more about running than swimming but there is one aspect of fat that seems to me not to be taken into consideration in swimming. Fat isn't just dead weight that can be supported by water. Fat is live tissue and the body has to form capillaries through it to convey the blood to keep it alive? Surely a heart is more usefully employed pumping as much blood/oxygen to the working muscles as possible rather than having to pump some through these capillaries into flab tissue to keep it alive?

Suzanne, am I right or wrong about this, please?

Martin T.
Hmmm, I'm not physiology expert, but whilst exercising, I believe that a bunch of mechanisms probably prevent blood to be used in a non productive way (ie, less is sent to stomach, more is sent to working muscles, etc)

Moreover, and I may be wrong (I'm no expert), but fatty cells already exist in our body. They can remain empty, but probably fully functional until they get filled in by some, well some fat. I'm not sure that there's actually a need to improve the blood transport network when these empty fatty cells get filled in.
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Old 12-18-2012
CoachMatHudson CoachMatHudson is offline
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Default Body Composition and Swimming Peformance

Not trying to make any particular point, just enjoying the exercise of writing out my thoughts on it since you bring up an interesting discussion.

**

Likewise, I am not a physiologist but I keep in mind what I understand about the various factors about body composition and hydrodynamics.

We have the natural forces of gravity pushing down, water pressure pushing up, and water resistance pushing against a body trying to move around in it. Those interact with body composition, body position, and movement patterns.

Body density determines how deep in the water a body will find its neutral point (in prone position). If a swimmer tries to swim above or below this neutral point (or bobs up and down between them) he must fight those natural forces with part of his energy- which means that energy is no longer available for forward movement.

Fat and muscle and bone are related to this density composition - making up most of what we may focus upon (I am not interested in shrinking my brain mass, for instance, to shave a little off my swim times). I am thin boned, lean, and generally low fat while my adopted daughters are about as opposite as you can get bc of genetic differences. I have to work with what I have, and play to my advantages, and I am helping them learn to play to theirs. I also keep these factors in mind while working with true sinkers - we have ways to work with the physics to get them to the surface without struggle, but I admit it is not easy.

Not all fat is equal in composition- there is intra-muscular fat, and there is subcutaneous fat, and there is white fat and brown fat. There's likely more types I haven't learned about yet. Each have different properties and functions and use blood and deal with energy differently.

And of course, an ow swimmer can tell that the body channels blood differently depending on the temperature of the water. (I am about to go experience this phenomena in the sea in a few minutes!)

Mass does play a part in how easily a person can move through the water, because mass affects water displacement. Just like the stats on the hulls of ships of all sizes is important information for pilots to consider in the performance potential of a ship, so does a swimmer's mass affect motion in the water. The more mass, the more volume of water that has to be shoved out of the way. Which then leads to the consideration of shape and how to adjust it so that water has an easier or harder time being shoved out of the way.

The 'average' body composition swimmer, in neutral prone position, gets to keep 5% of her body mass out of the water. So which 5% will we choose? (I choose a sliver of the head and a sliver of the hips.) Keep in mind that the head makes up roughly 10% of body mass, so any time a swimmer lifts the head above that neutral position she forces another part of the body be shoved down deeper into the water. What will compensate for this? A kick perhaps- and again, energy being diverted to dealing with vertical forces rather than forward movement. Tilt the head to look ahead even a little and she has now pushed the head above the neutral line - a swimmer has to consider how much she is willing to pay for that glance or continuous gaze forward. I've chosen to learn to swim without the eyes looking forward to save the energy and save the strain in the neck.

There is the factor of hull-design. Specifically, the length-to-width ratio of that hull. A basic principle of boat design is creating a longer narrowing vessel so that it requires less power to move forward - IOW it displaces water easier. Think of the difference in paddling an innertube across a lake, versus a row boat, versus a sea kayak. Everyone intuitively knows which one to prefer. One of the underlying physics reasons for learning and then holding a long body line during stroke transition (the non-propulsive gap between catches)- if that length/width ratio slips even a little the resistance of water, by calculations of this displacement ratio, shoots up exponentially- a major stroke engineering consideration. Hence, TI For Speed makes a very careful examination of how to crank up tempos because a great deal of that extra power can be negated by an unnecessarily shortened body line.

Looking at all these factors I then break it down into what I can control or adjust and what I can't and must learn to adapt to or live with.
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Email: mat@mediterraswim.com

Last edited by CoachMatHudson : 12-18-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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