Swimming is a sport that you don’t just train for in the water. Obviously there is a great deal of time spent in the pool, but the difference between being good and great can be the time you spend outside of the pool, doing dry land training.
Training for swimming isn’t like training for any other land sport. Swimming requires your whole body to work together, in unison, to be as efficient as possible. All of your large muscle groups are simultaneously working to keep you from ending up at the bottom of the pool.
The more common practices of dry land training can be divided up into four different sections.
Your first six weeks are general conditioning. There isn’t a specific type of conditioning, but here you are building your aerobic capacity. For your training here you really have to push yourself. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you keep your heart rate in the proper range. Use a bike, stair climber, go on a run, or even use a rower.
The goal of the next eight weeks is to build strength. Here you are going to lift weights, heavy ones! Throughout the entire program you want to make sure you maintain balance and joint flexibility. Because swimming utilizes the entire body, you want to focus on multi-joint compound exercises. Cleans, snatches, squats, and pull-ups are just some examples. If you aren’t sure if an exercise is a good one, think about the joints that are involved. If you only have one joint moving, like a bicep curl, you should figure out how to involve more than just your elbow.For four weeks following your strength phase, focus on your explosiveness. It is important to use the strength developed in the previous weeks to propel you off your blocks at the start, and have explosive turns during the race. Here the weight is going to be decreased, but emphasize moving the weight as fast as you can, while still maintaining control.The next couple weeks are a tapering phase. Here you are going to decrease the weight, throw in a little more cardio, and get prepared to get back in the pool.
Now there is a lot of opinion on whether or not swimmers should lift weights. Many coaches, especially those of distance swimmers do not want the added bulk, or risk of injury.
Now dry land training doesn’t include just lifting weights. There are many great exercises to increase strength and stability such as medicine balls, resistance bands, and TRX or CrossCore 180. Plyometric training is also a great tool, you can read more about that in one of our previous blogs, written by Akamu Aki, here.Whether you are new to the sport, or a seasoned veteran, incorporating dry land training into your exercise routines could prove extremely beneficial.Sean England General Manager / Performance Specialist CAMP, Building Better Athletes LLC