Strength and Conditioning for Swimmers
I received these email questions from a viewer of Functional Strength Coach 5
Here are the questions:
Q 1. Swimming does seem fundamentally different from other sports since we are not on land. I’m trying to figure out how that fact should influence the programming we do during our strength work on land. Swimming is a highly shoulder-driven, internally rotated activity. Keeping shoulders healthy is my primary concern. Do you have any suggestions beyond floor slides to warmup the shoulders and upper body?
My first thought came right from the first hour of the seminar “your sport is not as different as you think”.
This answer was written in a thread on my StrengthCoach.com site by site member Justin Levine
Think of it as “athlete specific” training not sports specific. OF course there are some specific things swimmers need to work on but get them to be a better athlete and they will be better in the pool.
Teach them how to roll and stretch as most youth athletes have no clue how to do this properly. Educate on proper warm-up strategies so they know what to do pre-swim meet. When it comes to the workout, teach basic jumping progressions focusing on landing mechanics first. This will enhance there starts and pushes off the wall. Add in shoulder stability and core stability as fillers. This will create a balance shoulder girdle and a strong core to transfer more force through the legs are arms. Get them “brilliant at the basics” (Thanks Dewey Nielsen author of Brilliant at the Basics) in terms of strength development. Master bodyweight movements first. Split squats, chin-ups, inverted rows, hip lifts, push-ups, planks, push-up walks. Remember to keep it simple because the basic movements will get these kids strong and stable.
The workout I just did with 3 swimmers looked like this:
1a: Controlled squat jump and stick
1b: MB OH and chest slams
1c: Front Plank
1a: Split squat
1c: Wall Slides
2a: Hip Lifts
2c: Side Plank
And remember to COACH COACH AND COACH MORE!
Owner, California Fitness Academy
Q 2. While leg power is important for swimmers (off the turn and start), it seems less so than for land athletes. Would you recommend a greater emphasis on upper body exercises for swimmers? Unilateral upper body movements for swimmers? I’m even thinking of a band-assisted single-arm pullup rather than a regular two-armed pull-up.
1/3 of the race is start and turn in short course so lower body strength and power are still important. I would not do unilateral bodyweight pulling like you mentioned. I think it could be dangerous.
Bottom line is that although swimming is obviously different, strength training for swimming is not. The same set of basic rules apply.