By Steven Handy (Contributor) / Owner, V3 Fitness.
This is the first in what will be a series of articles on dry land training for swimmers of all levels. In past days, the established thinking was more laps, more sets in the pool. This is how to improve speed, develop endurance and perfect technique. As times change, so does the thinking surrounding all types of training. Today, land based training is integral to success in the water. There are as many approaches to this as there are strength and conditioning coaches.
That said, most coaches will agree there are two major components to any dry land program. The first being injury prevention, followed closely by increased strength, power and endurance. The majority of injuries swimmers incur are repetitive stress. Swimming takes a toll on the body. Whether its multiple sprint sets, starts or endurance sets, there is a large amount of stress placed on the swimmer. From their shoulders, which are in constant motion, to the knees and torque from breaststroke kicks, it’s non-stop.
For younger swimmers, this stress, and how to deal with it, are important concerns. Over training and repetitive stress injuries are most common. While young athletes develop, their bodies go through many changes. Some of these injuries can lead to permanent loss in Range of Motion (ROM), and a weakening of the musculoskeletal structure. It is imperative that athletes of all ages learn to control their body weight before placing a load during any exercise. To phrase this another way, don’t use weights of any kind until the exercise can be done correctly without it. Young swimmers are more susceptible to injury from placing a load too early because of their developing framework.
When thinking of training, think integrated. Training swimmers usually consists of “core” work, push-ups, legs and the occasional TRX suspension trainer. Obviously, this is dependent upon the level of competition at which your swimmer participates. There is a place for body part training. You must, however, teach those muscles how to work together and fire at the proper time, in the proper order (sequencing). If not, all the hard work will have limited value. I will address programming in a later article.
by Steven Handy, Guest Editor
Owner, V3 Fitness