Strength Training May Give Competitive Swimmers the Edge
Traditionally, swim team training focused on the pool, learning and perfecting strokes. The goal is to increase speed in a sport where fractions of a second can make a big difference in the outcome of a race. More coaches are looking at the benefits of adding strength training for swimmers.
Targeting Specific Muscle Groups
Swimming works the body overall, resulting in long, lean lines. The edge is given to swimmers who have reach, flexibility, stamina and strength. When training as a competitive swimmer, there are five muscle groups that should be targeted and developed.
* Latimus dorsi (lats) – These are the muscles in the mid-back, and they work in conjunction with the triceps to pull you through the water. You’ll use them from the time you dive in until you finish the race. Pullups are a good way to develop this muscle group.
* Triceps – This muscle, which dominates the back of your upper arm, is one of the most difficult to work. It’s essential on the back end of a pull when performing freestyle, butterfly and backstroke. Overhead tricep pulldowns with hand weights or barbells work well.
* Pectorals (pecs) – Pecs are the large muscles across the front of the chest. Developing this region will give you a more powerful breast stroke or freestyle. They also act as a support for almost every other stroke. Bench presses are the best way to build up your pecs.
* Quadriceps (quads) – Developed quads give you power on the jump, turns and your kick. This will benefit you most on kick-heavy strokes like backstroke and butterfly. Lunges with handheld weights and squats with or without a barbell will build these up fast.
* Core – Your core muscles support everything. They encompass the abdominal region and pelvis, and they support your lower back. Without a strong core, you’ll lose hydrodynamic power and stability. One of the best ways to develop your core muscles is by planking. Once you can hold a basic plank position for 60 seconds with no problem, you can add elements to increase strength and stamina.
Your coach can help you to devise a workout schedule, including defining metrics to help you reach your goals.