With proper timing, your breaststroke should be smooth and long.
Breaststroke, being one of the most popular swimming strokes, is a challenge to master but offers numerous benefits. Breaststroke offers you the option to swim at an easy, relaxed pace or at a hard, challenging effort. While swimming breaststroke, your kick, pull and timing will be challenging to perfect, but with practice, you will begin to see stroke improvements and greater benefits.
Breakdown the Breaststroke
Breaststroke will take time to perfect, but the basics are easy to grasp. During the pull, the hands and arms should press out in front of the chest in a heart-shaped pattern and recover under the surface of the water. The kick, often referred to as the frog or whip kick, is a simultaneous circular motion under the water, similar to the action of a frog. During the stroke, for every one kick, one pull should also be executed, and it should done in the following pattern: pull, breath, kick, glide.
Target the Legs
Breaststroke is a stroke that requires a strong kick to propel the body through the water. As the feet move out and away from the body, it promotes hip, knee, and foot flexibility as your feet are flexed and pointed out. The feet should stay wider than the knees throughout the kick. The muscles used throughout the kick are similar to other kicks. The breaststroke kick also engages the inner and outer thigh muscles that are not used as often in other strokes.
Build the Upper Body
Breaststroke is an overall upper body workout. This stroke will strengthen the muscles your upper body but will engage the forearm, chest and upper back muscles more than any other stroke. The outward sweeping motion of the hands and inward pull of the water toward the breast requires use of the deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectorals and trapezius muscles. The faster you swim breaststroke and the more challenging your swim, the stronger these muscles will become.
Don't Forget the Core
Freestyle and backstroke are long axis strokes, while breaststroke and butterfly are considered short axis strokes. Breaststroke requires the body to move or bend along the short axis of the body at the hips. During breaststroke, your body should make a wavelike motion, which is the result of the constant upward and downward movement of the chest. Because of this bending wavelike movement, your core body muscles are engaged. Your hips will assist your breathing and momentum by driving downward and forward. The more breaststroke you swim, the more you engage your core body, and thus the stronger it will become.
Boost Your Fitness
Of the four competitive strokes, breaststroke is generally the slowest of the four, but it can be swum at any effort. You can use breaststroke to swim long, easy workouts, or you can challenge yourself with a hard breaststroke swim. Swimming will increase your overall fitness level, and breaststroke can be your primary means of swimming or an alternate stroke to use when you need a change.