Next to refining your technique, swim-specific strength training is the best way for amateurs to take their swim to the next level. This helps triathlon age-groupers to advance far more quickly than they would have time to if they were only trying to put in more laps at the pool.
Tools like the Vasa Swim Ergometer and Halo Swim System are great for more targeted training, but an athlete can also get in a great swim workout with a more simple approach.
At the Playtri Performance Center in Dallas, Texas (a USA Triathlon Performance Center), head coach and former Olympic swimmer Ahmed Zaher has spent countless hours with athletes, and the rest of the Playtri coaches, developing strength training that really work for improving athletes' swim times.
Work the following routine into your strength training if you are ready to ramp up your swim fitness.
Swimming Strength Training 101
Do this routine as part of your normal strength training. Try to give yourself as little time as possible between each exercise to apply the most effective stress to the muscle groups. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
Simulated High Cadence Swim Drill
- Using resistance tubing (Halo or other) wrapped around a stationary anchor, hold on to the handles on each end of the tubing.
- Bend from the waist until your torso is almost parallel to the floor, with the head facing down, arms stretched out in front of you as if you were streamlining.
- Back up until there is tension in the tubing with the arms outstretched.
- Move your arms just as if you were swimming, using an exceptionally high cadence or turnover.
- Repeat this for 40 to 80 "strokes."
Crunches With Weight
- Grab a free weight or medicine ball weighing 3 to 10 lbs. depending on your fitness, along with a stability ball.
- Lay with your mid to lower back on the stability ball, holding the weight or medicine ball over your head with both hands, arms straight.
- Focus your eyes on the weight and crunch up towards it, then back down.
- Do 20 to 40 times.