Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Swim-specific Strength Training

Moderate DryLand Program

This is not a limiter for most triathletes. However... if you want to spend a winter training-like-a-swimmer then this program works. For the gym junkies, it also makes a nice substitute from the same-old-routine.

Start really easy or you will damage yourself!


Moderate Dryland Swim Program
copyright Scott Molina

Make a gentle start. Don't worry about bulking up. This program will add to the overall stimulation you give your upper body swimming muscles. You use all of them (all upper body muscles) when you swim and this program will make them stronger and more durable. Doing a program like this will stabilize your shoulders and prevent tendonitis. Swim enough and you will get tendonitis. A program like this allows you to swim more without getting tendonitis.

The format for these is - do one set of the upper exercise of the pair and then one set of the lower exercise of the pair until all sets are completed for that pair and then move on to the next pair. Still do the first two listed here first to warm up, then any order you choose but keeping the pairs together. Always do core with your swimming dryland even if it’s just alternating a set of core with a set of Vasa.

Swiss ball twisting crunches. Twist hard like you're wringing the water out of a towel. 1-2 x 12-20
Back extensions. Slowly. Hands behind head. 1-2 x 10-15
Med Ball side bends (feet together, hold 8-15lb med ball over-head, bend side-to-side) 1x30 reps - 15 each side. Big stretch.

Push-ups easy 10-15
Chin-ups easy 4-6 and then hang from the bar for 20 seconds after the last rep.

Bench Press 1 x 15 bit lighter
Incline DB bench press 1 x 15
Bar dips. Slow and low. As many as you can do.

Chin-ups 1-2x Max reps. Full stretch.
Lat Pull down to front of neck 1-2 x 15

Seated Row 1-2 x 15 SQUEEZE shoulder blades together.
Upright barbell row 1-2 x 15

DB Bicep curls 1-2x 15
Tricep pushdowns 1-2 x 15

DB Lateral raises 1-2 x 15 -- slight bend in arm, slight backward rotation at the top, lift only to shoulder height
DB Pull-overs 1-2 x 15 Trying to extend range of motion a bit more but always under control.

DB shoulder press ladder/superset. Start with 15's or 20’s and do as many as you can do. Then as soon as you put them down pick up the 10's and do as many as you can do. Touch your shoulders with the DB's on each and every rep.

Then do 2-4 times through this sequence of 3 exercises:

1. Vasa - sets of 15-20 with moderate resistance but strict form. Start sensibly.
2. Internal rotators with cords - these can be done one arm at a time or do both together by turning your back to the cords’ fastening point make a throwing motion like fast pitching baseballs with both hands at once.
3. Reverse rotators with cords - opposite of above. It’s like a flick backwards like a backhand. It’s not a very big range of motion. Tie point should be low to the ground.


Following the workout, swim 1.5-3K continuous or do 200m repeats on 5s RI -- easy.

Some tips:

  • Back Extensions -- can be Swiss Ball or with the old-school back ext machine.
  • Med ball side bends are standing with feet about 6 inches apart. You can adjust the bend in your arms (lots, little, nil) to change the feel of the exercise.
  • Push-ups -- standard are fine, they are there to warm up
  • Chin-ups -- shoulder width, palms facing
  • Speed -- controlled and smooth
  • Bench -- "lighter" -- don't go crazy, be moderate in your approach
  • Dips -- goal is to challenge your muscles // the assist machine is good to start so you don't overload -- you could start with 15 and work down to 8 as you strengthen and reduce assist
  • Core/Vasa -- Once you can go to 30 reps then you need more resistance.

Simple Dryland

If your gym and pool are not at the same location, you can adapt the exercises slightly.

1. Forward Rotations
2. Lateral Core Exercise
3. Backward Rotations
4. Anterior Core Exercise
5. Full Pulls
6. Posterior Core Exercise

2-6 times through -- 20 reps per set

All you need is a Swiss Ball and a set of swim cords. Done properly, this is time effective and will benefit all sports.

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