In some cases, you don’t even need dry land! One of the most effective core exercises I’ve ever done involves taking the medicine ball with you into the pool (preferably not one of those old school leather med balls, though). Push off the wall on your back while holding the ball above your upper chest with both hands, and dolphin kick to the other end of the pool. Try to feel how your core initiates and powers the dolphin kicking motion, all the way through to your feet.
I do my dryland training at the University of Chicago’s Ratner Center. As it happens, the gym shares a roof with a very nice 50m x 25y pool. So, for efficiency’s sake I usually combine my weightlifting sessions with a swim.
A question thus arises: Lift first, or swim first?
I’ve heard different theories on this. Those who endorse lifting first say you’re more likely to injure yourself when you’re tired, and thus lifting after a tiring swim session can be dangerous. Some also say a post-lift swim session allows them to “stretch out” their muscles and reduce later soreness. The most interesting argument I’ve heard is that even a brief lifting session can produce muscle fatigue equivalent to (or greater than) a full swim session.…
A teammate asks, regarding my strength training routine:
Would you recommend something similar for me (only been swimming 1.5ish years very haphazardly), or do you think the benefits are only for those who have slowed their pool gains down significantly?
My answer: “Yes, but….”
Yes – because:
- Weightlifting and calisthenics are good for you, both in promoting strength and general musculoskeletal health, and in preventing injury.
- If you learn to deadlift properly, for example, you’ll never throw out your back lifting a heavy box.
- Getting stronger will, in general, help you swim faster. At least, a little bit faster (see next point).
But – because:
- Strength training is a “low leverage” activity for improving swimming speed. The highest leverage, by far, is in swim technique.
Notwithstanding this post’s title, my strength training routine – which I started about 6 weeks ago – is only partly tailored for open water swimming. It’s a balanced, total-body routine designed for strength, simplicity, and sustainability.
Strength means not designed for maximum muscle mass (the former helps swimming, the latter does not).
Simplicity means using only a few basic gym equipment, and that I can remember the routine easily without writing it down.
Sustainability means giving myself the best chance of consistently doing the routine over the long term. It’s integrated seamlessly into my everyday life, and it’s brief (no more than 30 minutes per session).…