The most ambitious swimmers are always looking for ways to get faster. The traditional mentality of “swim more, swim faster” will only get you so far, and while it is true that the majority of your workouts will consist of training in the pool or open water, the positive effects of strength training with your own body weight are often underestimated.
While is true that the best way to become better at an activity is to spend time actually doing it; in some cases, swimming more does not always translate to an increase in performance.
“You’ll increase bone density and strengthen the tendons and ligaments, so not only are you simply able to lift more weight, but you’re also building resistance to injury,” explains Michael Boyle, a Functional Training expert.
Out of water training can improve swimming performance, body awareness, and prevent injury. The following six concepts explain how bodyweight training can improve your swimming performance.
1) You’ll Swim More Efficiently
A strong core is crucial for maintaining a high body position in the water. Not just your abs, but your entire torso plays a major role in holding this position in the water. If you have a weak core, then your body will be forced to make compensations including a sub-par body position in the water. A balanced core maximizes your stroke technique’s efficiency thus helping you swim faster and expend less energy.
2) Your Strokes Are More Efficient
Muscle imbalances and unstable joints lead to less efficient power output. This decreases the effectiveness of your pushes off the wall and the propulsion you generate from each stroke. The more stability and strength your frame has, the more efficient transfer of force can be applied directly through your strokes and kick.
3) You Become More Flexible
Bodyweight training exercises can be complex and strengthen more than just your muscles. Bodyweight movements increase mobility and agility. Flexibility is a combination of strengthening, mobilization and stretching. These are all major components to increasing agility and efficiency in the water.
See Also: 34 Stretches To Keep You Young & Healthy
4) You Will Reduce Stress On Your Shoulders
Swimmer’s shoulder is a common problem among swimmers. The main reason is weak supporting muscles in the surrounding musculature. Every time you swim, you’re putting stress on these small joints. Over time this can cause problems. With a balanced out-of-water training regimen, this wear and tear can be lessened on the rotator cuff by engaging muscles on the back and shoulder.
See Also: 3 Ways To Prevent Shoulder Injury
5) Lower Risk of Injury
Most swimmer’s problems are a result of either muscle imbalances, improper stroke technique, and over-use. Muscle imbalances are something that can be easily addressed out of the water with bodyweight exercises that isolate muscle groups that may not be as regularly engaged in the pool. Strength training and stabilization exercises as a regular part of swim training can help improve form and muscle engagement thus lowering risk of injury.
You don’t need equipment to get started. Body weight squats, pushups, walking lunges, and planks are a fantastic way to get started. Read A Beginner’s Guide To Strength Training For Swimmers for a deeper look.