Tired of treadmill running or high-rep crunches? You’re not alone. Today’s swimmers are looking for bigger, stronger, faster body positions in the water and unique cross-training techniques to achieve those positions. For the off-season, unique dryland training techniques and workouts are growing in popularity.
What Are Dryland Workouts?
Dryland workouts and techniques are used to supplement swimming. They do not replace the physical training time swimmers spend in the water, but they complement it nicely. Dryland exercises for swimming should be done on land that mimics what you’d do in the pool, such as running or rowing with fins, kicking a board, using resistance bands to pull from, and so on.
Helpful Facts About Dryland Workouts For Swimmers At Home
The concept of cross-training for swimming is nothing new, but today’s sports scientists are beginning to discover that they can better maximize their training stimulus by putting swimmers on dry land. Physicians and physical therapists have discovered that athletes produce different muscle fibre types, each suited for different activities. A sprinter might possess more fast-twitch fibres than a long-distance runner, for instance. The same goes for swimmers. Swimming relies on both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibre types, depending on the nature of each stroke style.
For instance, during the propulsive phase of freestyle, swimming muscles use mainly fast-twitch fibres. During kicking phases in the other strokes, slow-twitch muscles are involved.
Aerobic activities such as running and cycling work mainly with slow-twitch fibres to develop the aerobic system. Fast-twitch muscles are used for less developed or developed at a lower intensity during these types of exercises. In swimming, this is not true – both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibres are used.
For this reason, a good mix of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in the same workout is recommended. Rowing machines, for instance, work well in conditioning swimmers because they combine the use of slow-twitch muscles to develop endurance with fast-twitch muscles that intensively activate during sprinting phases.
How To Do Dryland Workouts For Swimmers At Home?
Unfortunately, dryland workouts for swimmers at home are still considered the best-kept secret among sports scientists. While this type of training has become very popular in other sports, many swimmers still spend their off-season doing the same boring exercises repeatedly.
For instance, it’s quite common to find frog kick variations on the net. I’m sure swimmers have been doing those for years, and they still do.
So, why not try something new? There are so many different dryland techniques and workouts you can do at home to boost your swimming performance:
One of the most popular exercises among swimmers is the plank. When it comes to dryland training for swimming, this exercise should not be used as the main workout, but rather as a supplementary one that works your muscles in a different way.
The principle is simple: hold a straight position with your body and legs, just like the top of a push-up. This is a great exercise for the whole body, but what makes it effective for swimmers is its capacity to strengthen your core muscles – those responsible for stabilizing your body in the water.
To perform this exercise properly, keep all your muscles tight and then hold that position if possible. Don’t let your hips descend and maintain a straight body line.
Drill – Dumbbells / Kettlebell Swing
This exercise looks simple, but it is quite difficult to perform properly if you want to increase its intensity. The swing is a pull + bend + push drill that activates the whole body. The intensity depends on the weight you choose. You can use a dumbbell or a kettlebell for this exercise.
Start with your legs apart, lift the weights to your sides and bend your knees as if doing a biceps curl. Then explosively swing both weights forward as high as possible, keeping them close to each other. Notice that this is like how you would push water away in the pool when swimming freestyle.
Start by widening your hands and then pulling them back together (starting position)
Lift the weights up and bend your knees (swing phase)
Swing the weights forward explosively (ending position). Explosiveness here means “high” and “fast”.
The rule is simple: try to make the ending position as high and fast as possible. You can add this move at the end of your workout (after a few other dryland workouts for swimmers) because it’s quite physically demanding. If you perform it properly, you should feel really exhausted after 8-10reps.
Side Plank Transverse Reach
Another great exercise for the whole body that is very effective for swimmers. The side plank not only strengthens your core muscles but also creates a rotational movement to improve shoulder flexibility and stability, which is important during any swimming style.
To perform the exercise properly, lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and raise yourself in the air keeping all your body straight (head in line with feet). From there, reach across towards the floor as if you were trying to touch your toes. That’s one rep.
Knee Drive Jumps
This is another one of those exercises that are not exactly easy to perform. It’s a great workout for the whole body, but what makes it effective for swimming is its capacity to produce explosiveness, which is extremely important when it comes to increased speed in the water.
During this workout, your focus should be on moving both legs as quickly as possible using explosive moves. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, so don’t rush it. Remember that you are training explosiveness, which means “high” and “fast”.
To perform this exercise properly, start in a standing position with your knees bent at 90°. Then jump while extending your legs as much as possible while making sure to absorb the impact through your knees. Always keep your abs tight and your head in line with your toes. That’s one rep.
This is one of the best workouts for increasing your leg strength. It’s an exercise that will also help to improve your coordination, which is very important when swimming freestyle & kicks.
To perform this exercise properly, lie on your back with your hands slightly under your hips, raise your legs in the air and lightly tap them against each other for 30secs. Then lower your feet to the ground next to each other (with your legs still in the air, mind you) and repeat for another 30secs.
Dolphin Kick with Resistance Band
This is probably one of the most effective workouts for swimmers. It will help you to learn how to use your hips more effectively, which is extremely important during freestyle swimming. It will also improve your leg strength and help you fight tiredness in the last part of a race
To perform this exercise properly, attach the resistance band to your ankles, then lie on your stomach and pull yourself towards the pool wall as many times as you can. For this workout, it’s best if you choose a lower number of reps (8-10) since it’s quite tough.
Benefits of the workout described here:
– Stronger muscles and a better flexibility
– Better cardiovascular system
– More power and strength in your upper body, legs and core
– Improved coordination and balance.
What equipment is needed?
None. You can do this workout without any weights or other equipment. All you need is your body weight and a few minutes to spare daily!
How often should I perform these workouts?
– We recommend performing 2-3 sessions per week for about 15-20 minutes each time. Include some rest days in between to allow your muscles to recover
– You can combine this workout with some dryland workouts for swimmers you can find here.
– You can also include these exercises in your warm-up sessions before swimming but remember to finish your dryland training at least 10 minutes before jumping in the pool so that you don’t interfere with your body temperature.
How to perform the workout safely and properly?
Warm-up for a few minutes before performing it
– Try to perform all sets and repetitions with proper form
– You can add variations of these exercises to make them harder or easier
– Listen to your body. Take a break if you need it!
– Monitor your intensity. Remember that our goal is not to perform many repetitions at all costs, but to build muscle strength and increase intensity over time
– This workout is not suitable for people with serious orthopaedic problems. If you have any surgery or medical condition that prevents you from doing these exercises with proper form, consult your doctor before performing them!
What Are The Advantages Of Doing It At Home?
– You can do it anytime you want
– It’s free!
– Get to know your body better with this workout. The intensity depends on how much weight you choose and how well you perform the exercises!
– No more boredom! You can do this workout anywhere. In your living room, bedroom, outside if the weather allows you to!
– Your body will be grateful for all this extra training and won’t complain about adding a few exercises here and there!
Dryland training is a very important part of any piece of the training programme, swimmer or not. You can focus on different body parts and muscle groups to improve your strength and fitness
Remember that you should do some other dryland workouts as well so that you don’t overtrain one muscle group only. Mix it up! – Start by adding one or two dryland exercises to your workout routine and then increase the intensity over time. Don’t expect great results after only one training session!
Disclaimer: This article is for information only – not medical advice. Please consult your doctor.