Strength training is a huge topic on its own, and can be a very rewarding activity. Here and now we are interested in what it can do for you as a swimmer.
REMEMBER - Weight training is as important for women as it is for men.
OK, so basically….
Correct Weight Training increases your strength & swimming requires a good level of strength,
Correct Weight Training increases your muscular endurance & swimming requires a good level of stamina (endurance).
IN OTHER WORDS – weight training is great for improving your swimming. For serious swimmers it needs to be part of your weekly training.
Weight training is great for most swimmers whose bodies have fully grown. Before this time caution should be taken when lifting weights. Keep the weight low and the repetition high. Under 16s should ask advice of experts before weight training
Right….Lets get weight training
TIPS on Weight Training For Swimmers
4 sets per exercise
-2 x 12-15 repetitions (30 sec rest) at low/medium weight - for endurance,
-2 x 8-10 repetitions (60 sec rest) at high weight - for strength.
Try to train 2-3 times a week
-1 to 2 sessions on your upper body (arms, chest, shoulders, back),
-1 session on your lower body (legs, lower back) & abdominals (stomach).
Aim to be really struggling on your last repetition. Adjust weight accordingly to reflect your current strength levels.
As with swimming, good technique is very very important. Get it right and you will build strength and endurance quickly and reduce the chances of injury.
Last but not least, STRETCH before, during and after a weight training session, to prevent injury and increase recovery time.
Here Are 6 Of The Very Best Weight Training Exercises
they will help you improve your swimming by targeting the big muscles while also training the smaller ones.
These are WIN WIN exercises.
If the free weight exercises below seem too much for you at the moment, try the machine equivalent which work using fixed weights, and so require less experience.
The Bench Press (upper body)
Lie on a flat bench face directly under a barbell.
Grab the bar just about 35-40 cm apart (just a bit wider than shoulders)
Keep feet flat on floor
Bring bar off support until its over your chest.
Slowly lower the bar until the upper part of your arm is parallel with the floor
Pause for a second
Press (push) the bar back up to the starting position.
This exercise is great for
Your chest (pecs) – Obvious I know
The back of your arms (triceps)
Right what’s next…..
Military Press or Shoulder Press (upper body)
Grip the bar shoulder width apart, with your palms underneath.
Bend the knees very slightly.
Press the bar overhead until your arms are completely straight.
Slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.
Very simple, but very effective. It’s a great exercise for,
Shoulder – An important muscle for swimmers.
The muscles in the back of your shoulder (trapezius),
The back of your arms (triceps).
This next one is a great exercise......
The Chin-up (upper body)
Grab hold of an overhead bar, hand shoulder width apart with palms against the bar.
Pull your feet off the ground by bending your knees and bringing your feet up behind you.
With your arms straight, stick your chest out and pull yourself up until your chin is higher than the bar.
Slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are straight again.
This exercise will work,
Your upper back muscles
The front of your arms (Biceps)
This next one is the king of all exercise....
The Dead Lift (Upper and lower body)
Squat down in front of a barbell (see picture), with your feet shoulder width apart.
Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width with back of hand facing away from the body.
Lift the bar pushing from your heals down while Keeping your arms and back straight. Pull the barbell up and toward your body.
Pause at the top.
Slowly return the barbell to the starting position.
This works loads of muscles
Bum muscles (glutes)
Back of your upper leg (Hamstring)
Back of your shoulders (Trapezius)
Front of your upper legs (Quadriceps)
Your Lower leg muscles (Calves)
Another really good exercise is…..
The Squat (Lower body)
Rest the barbell either,
across the front of your shoulders (deltoids, see picture) with the bar lightly touching your throat, or….
on the back of your body at the base of the neck, or….
Lower down across your upper back.
Whichever you feel most comfortable with.
Place your feet slightly wider than your shoulder.
Let your body descend downward, keeping a very slight arch in your back while keeping your front (chest and stomach) upright.
Pause in a sitting position (see picture).
Push back upwards to your starting position.
And finally the only fixed weight exercise here……
Hamstring Curls (lower body)
Lye down on a special leg curl machine (see picture). Adjust the pads accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Pull the weight towards your bum with a very smooth movement.
At the top, point your toes and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
Concentrate on only using your muscles in the back of your upper legs (Hamstring).
FAB, NOW we Know why and how we should begin Weight Training, Is there anything else I need to know?
WELL, as you have asked, Yes there is and here they are……
Some Final Tips on Weight Training
Use the BIG 6 exercises and add in smaller exercise so that you are training for 45 – 60 minutes (inclusive of warm up, stretches and cool down).
Examples of smaller exercise are,
Stretch before and after your workouts.
Mix up your program now and again, try not to get stuck in a rut of the same exercises in the same order, the same weight, and the same number of reps etc….
TRAINING + REST + NUTRITION = Increased Muscle & Strength.
See our fab section on Protein Supplements for loads of information and tips to help you with nutrition.
I hope this page has been of use to you, please contact us if you would like to add further tips for our readers. Thanks