Megamove of the month of October 2018: Swimmer
‘How to Swimmer’!
In October, we will be focusing on perfecting your Swimmer, an exercise performed to strengthen back, shoulders and lats! Until the end of October, all classes will include a swimmer, or one of its variations. Our instructors will focus on providing detailed explanations on how to perform the exercise in perfect form.
The perfect Swimmer
The Swimmer, is one of the signature Lagree Fitness Method upper body exercises that not only targets the muscles in your back, but also works your shoulders and lats, while keeping your legs and abdominals constantly engaged.
On the Megaformer, the Swimmer is performed on the carriage, laying down on your stomach, facing the back platform. The move requires a heavy spring load (typically one red and two yellow springs) and both black handles.
The movement, is performed by starting with the arms out to the sides in a T-position. Then, slowly and with control, pulling the handles back using the lats, lifting the head and chest off the carriage, to then return to the original T-positon. For this exercise, the shoulders act as a stabiliser. It is important to keep the tension constant on the cables – the tension must be kept in the arms while keeping the back fully supported by engaging the abs. Breathe out as you pull the cables back to help you keep your rib cage closed and core engaged.
A variation of this move would be to keep the head and chest lifted the entire time, and adding a backwards circular motion to your arms. Squeezing your legs together will also keep your inner thighs engaged while working your back. Additionally, keeping the legs straight and squeezed together, you can lift them off the carriage as you lift your chest, to increase the tension in your lower-back !
Notice how in his video, Romeo starts the swimmer with his head and chest already elevated to add extra tension to the exercise. With straight arms, he engages the back, shoulders and lats, while sweeping the cables back to his hips. While taking his arms back, he squeezes his shoulder blades together in order to get his chest up even higher, further away from the carriage. His legs are also engaged, slightly elevated off the carriage and pressed together to activate the inner thighs. Adding an extra little challenge, Romeo incorporates a circular motion to his swimmer!
If the tension starts to feel too light or too heavy, you can always modify the exercise by adding or removing the yellow springs (always keeping the one red). Less springs doesn’t necessarily mean less effective and vice versa. When changing springs, remember the carriage must be closed!
In order to keep the target muscles under constant tension, the exercise must begin and finish with the arms in a T-position, that is to say in line with your shoulders. This position makes sure you are starting the move with tension in the cables and by default in your body. You will notice that starting with the arms further out in front of you will cause you to lose the desired tension that we want you to feel before even beginning to move your arms. Furthermore, for the same reason, as you take your arms back behind you, avoid bending the arms at the elbows, as well as taking the arms lower than the level of the rest of your body.
Neck and Shoulder alignment
To make you’re the focus of this exercise stays in your back, and not in your neck, try to avoid taking your shoulders up close to the ears. To avoid this, constantly think about pressing your shoulders down into your lats, keeping your neck long. You also want to make sure that you’re keeping your neck aligned with the rest of your spine -try not to look up too far. Unless you are extremely flexible, with Swimmer, you will constantly be looking down at the carriage in front of you.
Often times, when laying on the stomach, we naturally decide to relax a little, and forget to keep our abdominals engaged. Keeping tension in our abdominals is extremely important for Swimmer, as it allows us to keep the spine supported. To keep the engagement in your core, think about exhaling as you take your arms back towards your hips. Exhaling will help you keep your rib cage closed and allow you to easily keep tension in your core.