7 Strength Moves to Speed Up Your Swimming
Finally, strength train. You want to generate output and strength training will do that.
There is a misconception with many endurance athletes on how to strength train. The focus in the weight room for many of these athletes is a high-rep scheme, lifting light-to-moderate loads with bad form.
While they are thinking logically, if I compete in an endurance sport, I must train my body in the weight room to handle the duration of these types of events. The body gets more than enough endurance work during your swimming, cycling, and running. To build strength and get faster you will need to increase the load that you lift and decrease the amount of reps that you do.
Here are some of the best exercises that you can do to build strength, with the focus on your upper body for the swim leg.
Single-Arm Shoulder Press
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For this exercise you can use a kettlebell or dumbbell, as it will force your weaker side to get stronger. Remember this is a shoulder press and a not push press so do not use your legs. Bring the bell up to your shoulder. Your feet need to be straight. Squeeze your glutes and abs and make sure your shoulder socket is tight before you press.
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Press the bell straight up and lock out the elbow. Lower the bell back to your shoulder and repeat. Do 5 sets of 5 reps.
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I know this is a "meat head" exercise, but there is great value with bench pressing. Lie back on the bench and pull your shoulders blades back and down. This will put your shoulder in a strong position. Your feet should be slightly turned out and flat on the ground, glutes and torso need to remain tight.
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Lift the bar off the rack, while keeping your shoulder blades back and down. Lower the barbell to your chest, and press straight up. Try to keep your forearms vertical and keep your eyes on the ceiling. Lock out your elbows and repeat exercise. Do not have your elbows flaring outwards, shoulders unstable, or feet off the floor. Do 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
Bent-Over Barbell Row
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Both of your palms will need to be facing down. The barbell will be on the floor, so set up your feet under the bar. Grab the bar with both hands, pull your knees back and load your hamstrings. Your torso needs to be tight, elbows straight and chest up.
Deadlift the barbell up to the top position, set your torso again at the top squeezing your abs to be sure your back is in a good position. Next, slightly bend your knees and bring your torso forward, keeping your head in neutral. The barbell should now be hanging in front of you next to both of your knees.
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Now pull the barbell towards you, be sure to keep your elbows tight to your body. Slowly lower the barbell into the starting position and repeat the exercise. Do 4 to 6 sets of 4 to 8 reps.
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Grab a bar, with your palms away from you, a little wider than shoulder-width. Pull yourself up where your chin is above the bar. Slowly return to starting position, using full range of motion.
If you're a novice, do inverted rows instead. For those, grab the bar and lean your body back, keeping your body rigid and feet in one place. Pull your body up and return to starting position. For either move, do 3 to 5 sets of 4 to 16 reps.
Hang Clean/Kettlebell Clean
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When you are trying to improve your speed in sports, you need to work those fast-twitch muscle fibers. The hang clean and kettlebell clean will help you build explosive power and can be used for conditioning. Deadlift the barbell into the standing position, load your hamstrings by pushing your butt back and lower the barbell to your knees. Keep your torso tight and your shoulders back.
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Jump up aggressively, while shrugging your shoulders and drive the bar into the rack position with your elbows high. Make sure the bar travels in a vertical path. Return into the starting position and repeat. A great alternative for beginners is to use a pair of dumbbells or a single kettlebell. Hang clean: Do 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps. For kettlebell cleans do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 12 reps.
Turkish Get Ups
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The exercise everyone should be doing. I picked this exercise because it is a full-body movement, and it is measurable; you can see your strength increase as you use a heavier load. The TGU is an exercise that takes practice to learn, due to all the steps that are involved. Do not underestimate this exercise. It can be one of the most humbling and frustrating exercises to master.
A dumbbell will work, but kettlebells are better to use for this exercise. The benefits of the TGU are endless: it will improve your mobility, coordination, proprioception, shoulder, and core strength. Because you have a weight overhead and you are starting from the supine position your entire core will be engaged.
The TGU is great because you will move through all planes of motion. The TGU is a seven-step movement. Start by lying on your back with right knee bent. The heel of your foot needs to be near your butt, core needs to be tight. The right shoulder that is holding the weight needs to be tight in the shoulder socket, known as "packing the shoulder."
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Crunch to get up on your left elbow, drive your right heel down. Now, shift your weight to your left hand.
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Drive through your right heel, so you are in a bridge position. You want full hip extension. This step is great, because you are building glute strength, while working shoulder stabilization.
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Sweep left leg underneath your body, bringing left knee to the ground. Straighten up and align body by rotating left leg. The torso is in a tight position, keeping arm straight up and shoulder packed.
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It is now time to get up. Right shoulder and torso, and glutes remain activated. Do 2 to 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps.
TRX Tricep Extension
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Grab the TRX handles with your palms facing downwards, and face away from the anchor point. Lean forward so your body is at a 50- to 60-degree angle to the floor.
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Start with your hands in so they are about at your shoulders. Extend your arms upwards and lock out your elbows. Return to starting position and repeat exercise. Do 3 to 5 sets, 5 to 15 reps.