Strength Exercises For Swimming #SwimTechTues

Strength Exercises For Swimming #SwimTechTues

 Strength Exercises For Swimming

I often get asked about what strength exercises for swimming – either to avoid injury or to get faster and stronger. Strength training of any sort can be incredibly useful – but it is only a tool. You can do all the strength work in the world, but if you don’t then adapt your technique to make the most of it, then there is no benefit at all. That’s why all the articles you read about gaining good core strength are good – but only if you then focus on strong posture and balance.

[Tweet “Strength work is all good, but worthless if you don’t incorporate into your full technique.”]

There are many many exercises that you can do, so I’ve listed a couple here (with videos) that are my personal favourites and recommendations. The first section is gym based exercises, the second part is if you don’t have access to a gym, or want to be able to do some movements when and wherever you want.

Obviously these are just a guide to some exercises that you can do, form is important to minimise the risk of injury, and ask for guidance around weight that is right for you as well as number of reps or sets.

 

Gym Strength Exercises For Swimming

If you are doing gym work, two absolute staples as far as I am concerned are deadlifts and squats. Both teach you to brace your core properly and maintain great posture. Both are about much more than just using your legs (although this will help triathletes with their bike and run!) as if you are lifting relatively heavier weight you will be using your lats as well, so they are great all round exercises. Done with both legs at the same time you can build serious strength and power. Done with single leg variations you can improve balance, stability and control.

(Note, this is a sumo deadlift, there is less stress on the lower back. A standard deadlift would work just as well, feet under the hips with arms just outside the legs)

Another alternative to deadlifts are romanian or straight leg deadlifts – this takes the quads out of the equation and focuses purely on the posterior chain (ie hamstrings, glutes and lats) https://fitnesscrest.com/romanian-deadlift-vs-deadlift/

Pull ups are a good way of really working your upper body – especially your lats. Try and use an overhand grip (palms facing away from you), or a neutral grip (palms facing toward each other) to get the best benefit for swim strength. Not everyone has the strength to do a pull up, so a nice starting point is a hollow body hang; engage your core, pull your shoulders down and back, and just maintain a good solid hold for 10-15s to start with. If that is easy, you can try jumping up to get your chin above the bar and slowly lowering yourself down.

For good core strength and maintaining good body alignment, you could do a Pallof press. But I prefer this option as it gives you a longer extension through the body and makes it more relevant to swimming.

The final gym exercise that I am a fan of is a suitcase carry. Really simple this one: pick up a weight in one hand. Stand up straight, weight hanging by your side. Walk around for a minute. Swap hands and repeat – do two or 3 on either side. The benefit of doing this is twofold: Firstly it forces you to keep your spine and core straight and strong. Secondly it strengthens your forearm muscles which will help for sculling and keeping a strong hold on the water. The added bonus is you’ll never have to make more than one trip from the car with your shopping!

Non Gym Strength Exercises For Swimming

These two you can do with weight, with a stretch cord/thera band, or even without weight to groove the movement and create stability. The shoulders have a lot of small individual muscles controlling them, so ensuring that they are stable is important.

You can’t go too far wrong with a simple press up or plank – BUT MAKE SURE YOUR BACK/NECK IS STRAIGHT! There is no core benefit from doing a plank if your back/ass is sagging down. You should be able to balance a glass of water on your shoulder blades – if only for 10-15s! With a press up, keep your elbows in reasonably tight so you can use your lats as well as your shoulders and chest.

A really nice exercise for core and shoulder mobility is the bear crawl – doesn’t require much space, and you can do with young children to keep them interested in what you are doing too!

Similar to the hollow body hang above, as well as the squats and deadlifts, the hollow body hold teaches you to maintain a strong rigid core and to keep your back flat. Because its at full extension, it’s a great swimming specific exercise.

Maybe try adding one or two of these into your weekly routine. Remember, don’t try and go heavy straight away, or for too many reps! We want to create strength and stability, not soreness or injury!

 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Rock & Roll Swimming – What Is Rotation #SwimTechTues

 

Rotation rock and roll

Rotation is one of the really important parts of swimming – and also quite misunderstood! Rotating the body (rather than swimming flat on your front) has 4 useful benefits:

1) Increased reach (forward and backwards)

2) Reduced frontal profile (so less resistance)

3) Better ability to get the bigger muscles of your back involved (so more power)

4) Most importantly for many – easier to breath!

There are two ways of controlling body rotation – either from your hips or from your shoulders. The problem if you only use your shoulders is that because they are relatively small muscles, and they are controlling what your arms are doing too, it’s very easy for them to tire very quickly. By off loading some of that stress – the control and balance of your stroke – to our core muscles, you can maintain a smoother and stronger stroke for longer

"<yoastmark

Two of my favourite drills to develop balance and stability are kick based (every triathletes’ favourite) and a really good way of dialling in good posture and body position as well.

The first is side kick – focusing on maintaining good core tension (ie belly button toward your spine, good head position and a straight line from your hip to shoulder to the hand out in front).

The second is rotator kick – aiming to drive all the rotation from your hips, and keeping hips and shoulders in line at all times.

Both of these drills (like most drills) over exaggerate the motion that is needed when you actually swim. The ideal position in the drills is to get to 90 degrees to the water surface, when actually you only want to rotate somewhere around 30-45 degrees. By over exaggerating the motion in your drills, only going part of the way in full stroke should feel easy.

As a result, when I coach, I prefer to use the term ROCK rather than rotate when you swim. When you swim your hips should move the same as when you might skate, kayak or play a golf shot. If you can maintain good body/core tension and just gently rock from the hips, it should allow you the extra reach and easier breathing without causing the body to snake around from side to side.

Have a go and let us know what you think. Try it with a snorkel or doing half a length without breathing. Feel for a rhythm coming from your hips. Aim for that single axis running down the middle of your body.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Feel the POWER – double arm pulls, the biondi drill #SwimTechTues

One of the biggest issues I find for athletes (swimmers or triathletes) is being able to put power down in the water, and to connect up what they do from sculling drills into “real” swimming.

The Biondi drill is a fun but practical way of concentrating on getting a real hold on the water – anchoring your forearms on the water and pressing it back past your hips.

 

If you watch the video above, you might notice a similarity to butterfly- and you would be 100% correct. This drill is exactly the same as the underwater/power phase of a butterfly stroke. Which is exactly the same as both frontcrawl arms pulling at the same time.

How to do it:

  1. Lie flat on the water, arms out in front. You can do it from a push, or kick your legs up gently behind you.

2. Push the elbows out to the side, push your hands down toward the bottom of the pool so your forearms are     vertical.

3. Squeeze your arms back past your hips until your arms are fully extended.

4. Glide, then lift your head forward to take a breath.

5. Put your hands back in front, head back down and repeat.

 

How to do it well, the finer points:

  1. Try not to grab at the water, being a fraction slower and smoother bending your elbows will mean that you can feel pressure against your forearms and hands.

2. Squeeze everything back using your lats, get used to using these so that when you swim your full stroke you can feel the power there!

3. Keep your head still until your pull has finished – otherwise you’ll end up with a face full of water!

One of my favourite ways to do this drill is to get athletes to do it for 3 different lengths. On the first length, get used to the motion, the action and to feel the power. On the second length, do exactly the same but with maximum power, really accelerate your hands backwards, drive yourself forward as hard as possible each push. And finally follow the same technique, but with minimal power – what I would refer to as ghost pressure. Between the 3 lengths, what you should (hopefully!) feel is that it takes you roughly the same number of strokes to finish each length. But the difference should be the speed that you travel at…

Not only does this drill give you the opportunity to get used to really anchoring on the water and feeling power. It also makes sure that you understand how to go faster through the water, so that when you try and put more effort in you do it in the right way; without spinning your arms round and round but by putting more power down under the water.

 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in  the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!