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Swimmers Need Strength and Power

Posted Feb 08 2010 7:12am
Elite swimmers have strengthpower and endurance. Current research shows that long-duration swim training sessions actually inhibit power development.

Physiologist Dave Costill says:

“Most competitive swimming events last less than two minutes. How can training for three to four hours a day at speeds that are markedly slower than competitive pace prepare the swimmer for the maximal efforts of competition?”

To optimize strength and powerswimmers need to follow an exercise program out of the water that closely mimics their actions in the water. In other wordsswimmers need to go workout in the gym too!

Research has proven that there is no speed advantage gained by swimmers continuing to do high-volume swim training (long practice sessions).

Swim coaches continue to do high-volumelow-intensity training no matter what research has proven.

The disadvantages of high-volume swim training are:

1. Depletion of glycogen muscle stores which hampers performance.

2. Fatigue and depletion of fast-twitch muscle fibers which reduces force production.

Sport-specific strength training should be combined with high speed swim training to improve swimming times. Here are some strength exercises for swimmers
Arm pull down exercises:

Cable rotational front and back pulls: boosts forward propulsion by training the internal rotator cuff muscles by replicating the arm ‘pull down’ through the water.

Rear pulls: promotes balanced strength around the shoulder joint by training the external muscles. This technique avoids shoulder injuries and helps train your core stability skills.

Medicine ball single arm overhead throw: develops the power of the latissimus and pectoral muscles to improve the rate of force production in the shoulder by accelerating the arm hard. The focus is on producing the power from the shoulder and pulling across the body as you do in the crawl.

Swiss ball body pulls: helps to develop core and shoulder strength. A closed kinetic chain movement where the moving limbs remain in contact with a fixed objectit is regarded as functional for sports performance. Uses the stomach muscles to support the spineusing a strong pull of the shoulder muscles to raise your body back to the parallel position.

Leg kick exercises

Hip extension and flexion kick: each leg is worked independently to increase the specificity for swimming. Mimics the upward and downward phases of the swimmers kick actionwhere the glutes and hamstrings extend and the hip flexors flex the leg at the hip.

Dive start and push-off turn: The dive start and push off turn involves dynamic ankleknee and hip extension.

Squat jumps (pictured above): improves vertical jump performance by involving dynamic extension of the ankleknee and hip joints and trains the calfquadriceps and gluteal muscles. Helps you generate peak power by adding weight to the squatso when you perform the jump squat with body weight onlythe jump will be very fast and high.

Swimmers can also benefit from using sprinting exercises on the running track. A more diversified swim training program will improve swimmers' competition times.

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