Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exercises for the Swimmer

Earlier Personal Fitness Trainer Paul Nelson’s wrote in his blog post titled, “Sports Conditioning to Gain a Competitive Edge”, about how athletes are taking their training indoors and extending their cross-training. Building a strong strength base can develop “weak” athletes into strong powerful ones but also improve muscular balance that one might develop through repetition sport can bring.

Dry land training for the swimmer can be a bit challenging. Swimming is not something you can mimic out of the water so strength through full body range of motion is key, rather than isolating a specific muscle group. For example; performing a pushup requires your entire body to work together in order to perform the movement but doing a chest press, isolates the chest and arms. Isolating a muscle like this for swim training can lead to more stress on an already overused shoulder joint and cause overuse injuries.

Body coordination, functional strength and explosiveness are all areas that should be addressed when building a foundation of strength starting with focusing on the core. Core stabilization of the hip and shoulder girdle area are pre-requisites for any athlete that intends on building power and speed. Doing core specific work insures the athlete can maintain total body control while performing their sport and training for their sport. Below are various exercises that will help the swimmer build core strength, stabilization and power to help them reach the next level.

Four Point Kneeling Hold with Extension
■ Place your arms shoulder width apart just below shoulder level. Your knees should be in a kneeling position just below your hips as well.
■ Draw your belly button in towards your spine while maintaining a level back.
■ Extend your right arm and left leg while maintaining this position. Hold for 5 seconds then switch arms and leg.

Progression Options:
1. Hold for a longer period of time.
2. Perform the same movement on your elbows and toes and seen below.

Double Arm Wall Squat
■ Face the wall with hands shoulder width apart.
■ Keeping your hands on the wall, squat down sending your hips as far back as you can and keep your heels on the ground through the entire motion.
■ You will feel a stretch throughout your lats and calves and the weight of the work in your thighs.

Wide Grip Body Weight Row (using the smith press machine)
■ Place the bar on the smith press machine that way your body is at a 45% bend.
■ With an overhand wide grip, draw your belly button in towards your spine in order to keep your body in a neutral position.
■ Pull your body up towards the bar so the bar reaches mid chest level.
■ Pinch your shoulders blades back and keep your shoulders down and relaxed as much as possible. Hold then lower slowly.

Progression Options:
1. Lower the bar on the smith press machine.

Medicine Ball Throw
■ Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder width apart.
■ Take a step forward and at the same time, throw the medicine ball off the wall.
■ Keep your abdominals drawn in, do not arch your back as you perform this movement.
■ Repeat this exercise alternating legs each time.
Progression Options:
■ Increase the weight of the medicine ball

Keep in mind that the above exercises incorporate strength through full body range of motion but are not always good for everyone depending on one’s health history and injury background. For specific exercises to fit your personal swim training needs please contact a personal trainer to ensure you are on the right track.

Written by Dana Lauren
Fitness Director, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

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