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Do you want to incorporate weight lifting into your training to become a better and faster swimmer? But feeling a bit overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?
Don’t worry! Today I’ll cover everything you want to know. I’ll even provide you with step by step instructions to ensure that you are maximizing your results in the weight room.
Think of this article as your free and thorough guide to weight lifting for swimmers. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do in the gym, you’ll have a good understanding of how to make optimal progress, you’ll know some of the best exercises for swimmers and I will even show you how to create your very own weight lifting program suited to your swimming needs.
- Is weight training beneficial for swimmers?
- 5 Benefits of weight training for swimming.
- Is weight training right for you and your swimming?
- 7 Easy steps to create your own swimming weight training program.
- The 7 best weight lifting exercises for swimmers.
- 4 ways swimmers can prevent weight training injuries.
- Should I lift weights before or after swimming?
- Does weight training improve swimming?
- What is better- weight training or classic dry-land training?
Is weight training beneficial for swimmers?
With that being said, you may be wondering if weight lifting is even a good idea for swimmers in the first place?
My simple answer to this is going to be- yes absolutely. Weight lifting holds a ton of awesome benefits for us as swimmers. There is also a lot of evidence and research in favor of weight lifting for enhanced performance for swimmers and for athletes in general.
And if that isn’t enough, it might comfort you to know that almost every single elite and professional swimmer in the modern age of competitive swimming is hitting the weight room at least 2 to 3 times a week minimum.
Take Adam Peaty for example. He is without a doubt one of the best breaststroke swimmers the sport of swimming has ever witnessed. Peaty blasted his way to victory in the 100m breaststroke at the Rio Olympics and has been dominating both the 50m and 100m breaststroke events since. Setting a few new world records along the way.
Adam goes hard is the pool and he goes hard in the weight room. He is a great example of a swimmer who effectively uses weight lifting to increase power, strength, and muscle, allowing for faster swimming performances.
5 Benefits of weight training for swimming.
It is clear that weight lifting can benefit swimmers in many ways, let’s take a look at a few of these benefits that could ultimately make you a better swimmer in the long run-
1. Weight training enhances your overall strength.
It is quite obvious that weight lifting is one of the best ways to build strength. This training style applies a lot of resistance to your muscles and creates tiny micro-tears in the muscle fiber.
These tiny tears are responsible for that soreness you feel after a solid workout.
Once the muscle tissue repairs your muscles will be stronger and your body will have adapted to the resistance used in the previous weight training session. This essentially means you are now stronger and your body is able to handle that weight more effectively.
When you combine weight training with a good and structured training program it will allow you, as a swimmer, to effectively increase your overall strength and power.
This added base of strength can translate into many other aspects of your swimming, such as stronger kicks and strokes or faster turns and more explosive dives. All contributing to faster swimming and new best times.
2. Weight training helps to reduce swimming injuries.
As surprising as it may sound, weight lifting can actually help you to decrease your chances of getting injured while swimming.
When you lift weights you are strengthening your muscles and increasing muscle mass, allowing your body to endure more resistance and higher training loads. This is great for preventing injuries since stronger muscles are less prone to injury.
Weight training itself is also quite safe and won’t cause any injuries if you are responsible. Responsible lifting involves learning proper exercise technique, warming up properly, and never lifting more weight than your body can handle. (we will talk about this again later).
3. Weight training increases explosive power in the pool.
Weight lifting is an excellent way to develop some extra explosive power. There are many good weight lifting exercises directly targeting power and force exertion, some examples include- power cleans, sled pushes, and deadlifts.
Explosive power plays an important role in competitive swimming and it would be in your best interest to develop it if you want better starts, turns, and faster strokes and kicks while swimming.
If you have a good amount of explosive power you’ll be able to blast off the blocks with a lot of force. This gives you a direct advantage over your competition right from the start of the race, just by gaining that extra distance and momentum through the water.
It’s also good to note that all of the swimming strokes involve explosive power in one way or another. Breaststroke is a prime example. The small and fast snapback of the kick and the fast forward lunge requires a great deal of power and explosiveness to execute effectively.
Talking about breaststroke swimmers, if you are a breaststroke swimmer in need of a new tech suit, consider checking out our breaststroke tech suit guide to find your best fit. We also have articles for all of the other strokes, just use the search box above to locate them if you’re interested.
4. Building muscle through swimming alone isn’t effective.
Swimming is great for developing aerobic fitness and conditioning while building some basic muscle tone. However, after a while, your body will adapt to the resistance of the water and there will be no incentive for it to pack on extra muscle since the resistance levels of your training will most likely stay very consistent.
This is where weight training comes in handy. Weight training is an easy and effective way to increase both strength and muscle mass. Every time your body adapts and becomes accustomed to the resistance of your weight training, you just add extra weight to the bar and then you will continue to increase strength and muscle.
This is great for us as swimmers since it will allow us to continually make progress in terms of our relative strength levels, ultimately making us faster in the water.
5. Weight training is great for increasing your core strength.
Almost every weight lifting exercise is going to require you to activate your core muscles. The abdominal muscles are the center point of your body and they allow you to effectively execute weight training exercises by linking the upper- and lower body.
When you lift weights your core will naturally become stronger since it is involved in stabilizing your body in many of the movements. Sure, there are other ‘easier’ ways of building core strength. Such as doing sit-ups or other core exercises.
But that doesn’t mean weight lifting isn’t also good for developing your core. For the most part, I still recommend you incorporate core exercises into your training since swimming requires a great deal of abdominal strength. It’s just nice to know that weight lifting will also give you some extra abdominal strength.
Is weight training right for you and your swimming?
Looking at everything we have just discussed in the previous section of this article, it would seem that lifting weights for swimmers is a no brainer and the obvious answer would be yes, swimmers should do weight training.
However, like most things in life it isn’t that simple. There are a few factors to consider when deciding if weight training is right for you as a swimmer. Don’t worry, they aren’t complicated and you will quickly figure out if weight training is best for your swimming or not.
Before you can even think about approaching the weight room you have to make sure that it is something you would enjoy doing and would be willing to spend the necessary time to do it right.
What I mean by this is that you are going to have to be willing to spend the time learning proper lifting technique, you’re going to have to dedicate yourself to going to the gym each week, and you are going to have to spend a few hours setting up a proper lifting routine or visiting a nearby sports specialist to help you to do so.
If you aren’t willing to do this or don’t think that you would enjoy lifting weights then I recommend not starting at all. You’ll just be wasting your time and you may be more prone to injury.
I recommend trying out alternate methods such as bodyweight training for example, which can also be super effective or if you are interested in some other methods you can consider checking out my article on these 8 awesome cross-training methods for swimmers.
if you are currently undergoing an injury, like a shoulder injury for example, then you should focus your time and attention on making sure that injury gets sorted out before you start lifting. If you don’t it could cause serious complications down the line and you may even have to stop swimming for a few months.
Remember, weight training is a high-resistance, high-load training method and it places a lot of strain on muscles and tendons. This isn’t a bad thing (if you’re healthy), but it could aggravate an ongoing injury further if you choose to ignore the pain.
I recommend going to a biokineticist or a physical therapist if you want to sort out an injury quickly and effectively.
Ensure that your weight training won’t interfere with your swimming practices.
You should make sure that your weight training schedule never affects your swim training. Remember, it is meant to supplement your swimming, not replace it.
So, a simple rule would be- weight training < swim training. You should always choose swim training over weight training. Therefore, it is important to plan your training schedule properly in order for you to gain the best of both worlds.
Sure, this isn’t as important of a factor to consider since you could easily go to the gym early morning or after swimming practice.
Unless you are swimming doubles every single day of the week, then it may become an issue and lifting may not be a good option since you’ll never have time to recover properly.
Being sore and tired from lifting is normal and although it may affect swimming practice every once in a while, it isn’t the end of the world. I recommend talking to your coach if you are unsure. This will help you to figure out how to combine weight training and swimming effectively.
Weight training and age.
To be honest, I really despise restricting athletes to do certain activities such as weight training purely based on age.
There are a lot of other factors outside of age that should determine whether or not a swimmer should lift weights at a specific age and I highly recommend checking out my article- when should swimmers start lifting weights? For a far more detailed and accurate answer.
With that being said, if you are looking for a general “appropriate” age that swimmers should start lifting weights I recommend about 14-15 years old. That doesn’t mean swimmers shouldn’t do other forms of cross-training until then, it simply means they should consider waiting until they reach that age before lifting.
I started lifting at about 13 years old and looking back I kind of regret it since I feel I would have been far better off by starting out with a bodyweight training approach for a few months before moving into weight training.
I never had the guidance or any examples to know better, so I guess it isn’t too bad and I still achieved some great results regardless. My swimming times dropped significantly and I was in far better physical shape.
So to sum it up- if you are under 14-15 years old I recommend taking a strength bodyweight training approach. Do lots of pull-ups, dips, push-ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, jump squats, sit-ups, etc.
This can get you some great results and will also greatly benefit your swimming. It’ll build up the necessary strength and training experience and by the time you hit the right age, you’ll be more than ready to excel in the weight room.
7 Easy steps to create your own swimming weight training program.
In the following section, I will take you through a step by step ‘mini-guide’ on creating your very own weight training program suited to your swimming needs.
It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to use just weight training exercises. If there is a bodyweight exercise that holds value to your swimming be sure to include it.
1. Set weight training goals that will match your swimming goals and needs.
Before doing anything else it is highly important to know exactly what you want to achieve with your weight training and how it could impact your swimming. You could set your goals to focus on pure strength and power or you can take a more athletic and functional approach.
Or maybe you might even throw in some muscle-building techniques if you are a bit on the skinny side and could benefit from some extra muscle mass.
You also need to think about things such as which muscle groups are most important for your swimming strokes as well as areas where your swimming may be lacking and where you could possibly make improvements with weight training exercises.
2. Choosing the right training split.
Once you know what you want to achieve with your weight training you can get to the nitty-gritty of creating your weight training program.
The first step involves choosing the type of training split you want to go with. Generally, there really are only 2 training splits that I would recommend for swimmers.
The first training split I would recommend is the full-body training split. This involves you training your entire body 3 times per week. The benefit to this training split is you don’t have to lift as frequently, allowing for better recovery in between sessions.
However, there is also a downside to this training split. Workouts can easily become very long since you have to train your entire body. Luckily, this challenge can also be minimized by using compound lifts that target a few muscle groups at a time.
In practice, a full-body training split would look something like this-
- Monday- Full body workout
- Tuesday- Rest
- Wednesday- Full body workout
- Thursday- Rest
- Friday- Full body workout
- Saturday- Rest
- Sunday- Rest
The second training split I would recommend is the upper/ lower training split. This involves swimmers training 4 times per week. 2 Upper body sessions and 2 lower body sessions.
This is a great training split since it allows for workouts to be slightly shorter and for you to use a wider array of exercises in your training routine.
In practice, this split will look something like this-
- Monday- Upper body workout
- Tuesday- Lower body workout
- Wednesday- Rest
- Thursday- Upper body workout
- Friday- Lower body workout
- Saturday- Rest
- Sunday- Rest
3. Deciding on the duration of your training program.
Next, you have to decide how long you want your weight training program to be. It can be anywhere in the range of 8 to 16 weeks. Personally I would recommend a duration of about 12 weeks if you want to see some nice results.
Now choosing a duration doesn’t mean you are only going to be lifting for 12 weeks (or whatever duration) and then never again. It simply means dedicating yourself to a specific training program and style for that period of time.
After you’ve completed your training program, you should take a week off to allow your body to recover from the rigorous 3 months of training you’ve just put it through.
During this time I recommend assessing your progress and deciding what you want to do next. Do you want to take the same approach? Do you want to make a few minor changes? Is there an exercise you would like to replace? Or a specific part of your swimming that needs attention?
Ask yourself these types of questions and start work on creating your next program, or adjusting your existing training program.
4. Choosing the right exercises for your swimming weight training program.
This is a very important aspect of creating your weight training program. You need to train the biggest and most important muscles for swimming namely the- core, lats, legs, back, chest and arms (mostly triceps and shoulders).
You also need to look at your lacking muscle groups so that you can know to target them with specific exercises. This will balance out your muscles and will prevent those regions from getting injured due to underdevelopment.
Here are a few exercises for each muscle group-
- Core– sit-ups, cycle sit-ups, jackknives, leg raises, plank and Russian twists.
- Lats- pull-ups, rowing, and lat pull-downs.
- Legs– squats, lunges, box jumps, calve raises and split squats.
- Back– pull-ups, deadlifts, and barbell rows.
- Chest– dips, bench press, and push-ups
- Arms– tricep pulldowns, bench dips, tricep extensions, and overhead presses.
5. Structuring your sets and reps for optimal swimming performance.
Next, you need to decide on the sets and reps for each exercise. Go through your exercises and decide how many sets and reps you want to do for each exercise.
Remember to note how long you have to work out, I don’t recommend weight training longer than 1 hour. This is important to keep in mind since you’ll have to cap your sets and reps to meet that time limit.
Generally, you should do about 3-4 sets of roughly 6 reps for all of your big power and strength exercises like bench press, deadlifts, and back squats. This will allow you to focus on strength development and won’t cause too much fatigue.
For ‘smaller’ exercises like sit-ups, tricep pushdowns, Russian twists, etc. I recommend higher rep ranges of about 10-20 reps to ensure optimal progress and results in both the weight room and the swimming pool.
6. Maximizing weight training progress by properly utilizing progressive overloading.
This is one of the most important factors of your creating your weight lifting program. Without progressive overloading, you won’t continue becoming stronger and you will hit a plateau in your training.
Progressive overloading means to gradually increase the resistance or volume of your training program in order to become stronger.
This can be done in a few simple ways. Firstly, you can add more weight (easiest method) or you can add more sets and reps. You can even decrease the amount of rest in between exercises, but I don’t recommend this since it’s a more advanced and complicated method.
I also don’t recommend increasing sets and reps since this can compromise our training focus.
Generally, it’s best to slowly add more to weight to the bar. A rate of about 2.5kg or 5 pounds for each exercise per week would be good but don’t be afraid too slow it down a bit if you feel like it’s getting too much too quickly.
7. Putting your swimming weight training program together.
Now that you have your fundamentals listed out to create your weight training program you have to simply put everything together.
You can easily do this in a few steps-
- Organize your training split into 12 separate weeks or whatever duration you decided on.
- Add your exercises in whichever order you like. (I recommend placing the more important and harder exercise first).
- Specify the number of sets and reps next to each exercise.
- Apply progressive overloading from week to week.
- And just like that, you’ve successfully created your very own weight training program designed to improve your swimming.
The 7 best weight lifting exercises for swimmers.
There are hundreds of weight lifting exercises out there and it’s easy to get distracted. Your focus should be on performing compound exercises targeting the main muscle groups involved in swimming.
Compound exercises are exercises that activate more than one muscle group simultaneously. I recommend staying away from isolation exercises like bicep curls and so on. They can certainly come in handy where appropriate but for the most part, you don’t need them.
Always remember- we are swimmers, not bodybuilders. We train for function and speed, not for size and mass. Those things will come along naturally as you get stronger, but they shouldn’t be your main focus. Your main focus is on becoming stronger and more athletic
With that being said, let’s have a look at some of the best and most functional weight lifting exercises for swimmers-
1. Weighted Pull-Ups
Pull-ups are by far one of my favorite exercises. If there is one exercise that I would recommend to swimmers it would be the pull-up. The pull-up is a great upper body exercise primarily targeting your traps and lats, but also activating your core and shoulder muscles.
In case you are unaware, the lats are super important when it comes to swimming. And so are the traps too- especially for butterfly swimmers. These muscles will help you to have a strong and powerful pull in all of your strokes.
Weighted pull-ups are a very challenging variation of this exercise. If you aren’t great at pull-ups yet, I recommend you start with the standard bodyweight or band-assisted variation first until you can do 15 solid reps, before adding any weight.
How to perform pull-ups for a stronger pull-
- Grab onto the pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Retract your scapula and brace your core.
- Then use your back, lats, and arms to pull yourself up until your head is over the bar.
- After that slowly lower back down into the starting position.
- Avoid using momentum or swinging your legs- keep the movement controlled.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about the pull-up exercise and why it is so great for your swimming, then I recommend checking out my article- why all swimmers should do pull-ups.
2. Lat Pull-downs
The lat pull-down is another awesome compound exercise targeting your lats and back muscles. As you know by now, these muscles are responsible for a strong and efficient pull. That’s why strengthening them is in your best interest.
The lat pull-down is a popular exercise among swimmers. It is frequently structured into swimming strength and conditioning programs due to its functional nature.
I recommend alternating between lat pull-downs and pull-ups, don’t do both in a single training session. They are quite similar and that would simply be a bit overkill.
How to perform the lat pull-down for faster swimming-
- Start by sitting down at the lat pulldown machine and adjusting the pad so it sits securely on your thighs to minimize movement.
- Grab onto the bar with a wide and comfortable grip width while looking forward with your torso in an upright position.
- Then retract your shoulder blades, brace your core, and pull the bar down in front of you until it touches your upper chest.
- Slowly allow it to move back into the starting position and repeat.
3. Back Squats
The back squat is, without doubt, one of the best weight training exercises for developing a strong lower body. It is a highly functional movement targeting the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
It’s great for developing power allowing for better starts and turns. As well as more explosive kicks while swimming.
Additionally, the back squat is great for developing core stability and control. If you are going to perform this exercise under high-load you will need to know how to brace and control your abdominal muscles effectively to support the load on your back.
I recommend starting out with box back squats. This will really ensure that you nail the technique before progressing to the standard variation of this exercise.
How to do back squats for faster kicks while swimming-
- Go into a comfortable stance with the empty bar placed on your traps.
- Make sure your feet are shoulder with apart and your toes are pointed out slightly.
- Brace your core and lower down into the squat position until your knees form a 90-degree angle.
- Then push back up into the starting position in a controlled manner.
4. Bench Press
The bench press is an excellent weight training exercise for developing your chest, triceps, and shoulders. These muscle groups all play a critical role in swimming fast and efficiently.
The triceps are largely involved in freestyle and backstroke swimming, while the chest is largely involved in breaststroke and butterfly swimming. And off course the shoulders play an important role in all of the strokes.
The bench press exercise is also great for building some explosive upper body power. This will allow you to generate strong and fast pulls while swimming.
How to perform the bench press correctly-
- Start by laying down on the bench with the bar centered directly above your eyes.
- Then grab onto the barbell with hands in a comfortable position wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Retract your scapula and ensure that your shoulders are in a stable position.
- Straighten your arms and brace your core to unrack the bar
- Move the bar until it’s above mid-chest.
- Now from this position lower the bar until it very gently and briefly touches your chest and then push back up into the starting position.
The deadlift is like the ultimate full-body weight training exercise. A large number of big muscle groups are involved during this movement with the primary muscles being the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, traps, lats, and shoulders.
The deadlift is also great for developing stabilizing and functional core strength. It improves power output and is a great overall exercise for increasing athleticism.
There are a few variations of the deadlift. Namely the standard conventional deadlift, the sumo deadlift, the Romanian deadlift, and of course the trap bar deadlift.
From personal experience and some research, I recommend the conventional deadlift and if possible the trap bar deadlift. These are the 2 most effective variations for increasing general strength and athleticism.
How to perform the deadlift for more powerful swimming-
- Start by standing with feet at about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly.
- Then grab the bar on the floor in front of you and pull it forward until it touches your shins.
- Brace your core, retract your scapula, and ensure that your back is in a straight line.
- After that, you can pull the bar up while keeping it directly against or very close to your legs as you move upward.
- Once you reach the lockout position, you can lower the bar back down in a controlled manner.
- Make sure to keep your back in a straight line and to keep your core braced.
6. Overhead Presses
The overhead press is a very functional exercise for building some solid shoulder and arm strength. It’s also great for developing stabilizing core strength which is highly important in all of the swimming strokes.
Another huge plus from the overhead press is its tendency to mimic the overhead arm position that swimmers are frequently involved in. This will teach you how to generate some good power to get into and out of that overhead position, ultimately contributing to faster swimming times.
There are a few variations of the exercise that you can try out. The most typical is the standing overhead press with a barbell, but you can also try out seated variations and dumbbell variations of the exercise for added variety.
How to perform the overhead press for a stronger pull-
- Grab onto the bar with hands shoulder-width apart or just outside of shoulder-width apart.
- Then briefly brace your core as you uncrack the bar.
- Make sure to keep the bar just above your chest with your arms in a stable position.
- Then brace your core and push the bar up until your shoulders lockout at the top.
- Your arms should be behind your head when you lockout and you should aim to keep the bar as close as possible to your face as you push up. (P.S try not to bump your nose)
- Then once you’ve locked out you can slowly lower the bar back down and repeat.
7. Barbell Rows
Barbell rows are a good compound exercise for developing your back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. All of these muscles play an important role in developing a strong and powerful pulling motion while swimming.
Like all of the other exercises, the barbell row is also great for developing core stability which will allow for optimal power transfer while swimming.
How to perform the barbell row correctly-
- Start by placing the bar on the floor in front of you.
- Then go into the deadlift position and pull the bar up.
- Once the bar is in the air, you need to retract your scapula and brace your shoulders and core.
- Then lower the bar down by slightly bending your torso forward.
- Make sure to keep your back straight.
- Once you are in this position you can ‘row’ the bar up until it touches your stomach, lower it, and row again until you have performed 6-8 reps.
4 ways swimmers can prevent weight training injuries.
Weight lifting injuries are far more common than they should be. Unfortunately, this gives weight training a bad wrap sometimes, especially among swimming coaches and parents who do not fully understand why swimmers get injured in the weight room.
Swimmers and athletes usually get injured from weight training mainly due to a lack of knowledge about how to lift properly, sustainably, and responsibly.
There are 4 main factors when it comes to avoiding weight training injuries. If you make sure to follow the guidelines below your chances of getting injured in the weight room will be almost impossible.
1. Lift to become a better swimmer, not to boost your ego.
When you are in the weight room, it’s always important to be open-minded and to know what your ultimate goal is. If you are a swimmer, that goal would be to become stronger and more functional so that you can swim faster.
Keeping your goal in mind will help you to focus on what’s more important. If you are going to lift to try and look good you are only training your ego, and you’re not going to become a better swimmer.
Chances are you’re going to become a slower swimmer and maybe even an injured one. You’ll probably be focusing on loading the bar as heavy as you can, ultimately compromising lifting technique and proper programming and progress.
2. Learn the proper lifting technique for each exercise.
Do not start adding weight to the bar until you know exactly how to perform each exercise with perfect technique. I recommend using only the empty bar or even a PVC pipe to practice the exercise technique.
Video yourself to see how your technique looks and to see what changes when you move a certain muscle or change a specific angle of your body. Watching videos online can also be a valuable tool for improving your technique.
You can even get someone experienced, like a personal trainer, to help you learn the right training technique.
Once you are comfortable performing the exercise with good technique, you can slowly start to add some weight on to the bar.
3. Always warm up properly before weight training and exercise in general.
Warming up properly is super important. I see way too many athletes getting injured simply because they didn’t bother to warm up.
Get a set warm-up routine that you do before every training session. This won’t only prevent injury, but will also get you into the right mindset before training.
It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or long. I’ll say about 10-15 minutes of warm-up is more than enough.
Personally, I like to do some foam rolling on each of the large muscle groups, then I’ll do some resistance band exercises like band pull-aparts and external rotations and if needed I may go for a light 5-minute jog to get my heart rate up.
4. Incorporate stretching on a daily basis for increased mobility.
Stretching is one of the most valuable things a swimmer can incorporate into their daily routine. It is an important tool for avoiding injuries in both the weight room and the pool, but more importantly- it helps to increase range of motion and physical function.
I recommend doing at least 15-20 minutes of static stretching every day. Preferably after your last workout for optimal results. Compile a list of your favorite stretches and combine them into a stretching routine that you can follow every day.
It is important not to do static stretching as a way of warming up since it may cause injury. Static stretching is aimed at increasing flexibility not warming up. All in all, you’ll be more flexible and you’ll have a lower risk of injury.
If you are looking for some more injury prevention resources, I recommend checking out my article on preventing and treating swimming shoulder injuries.
Should I lift weights before or after swimming?
In short- If you have swimming practice in the morning, you should lift weights in the afternoon. If you have swim practice in the afternoon, then you should consider doing your weight training in the morning. But if you swim doubles you’ll need to sneak in a weight training session somewhere in between swim workouts.
The trick is to balance everything perfectly. Make sure you have a few hours to rest and recover in between sessions. Eat enough healthy foods, maybe take a nap, and make sure you stay hydrated. This will help you to sustain this training schedule quite effectively.
Now, when it comes to swimming doubles and weight training on the same day things get slightly more complicated.
The trouble here comes in recovering fast enough. You’re going to have to schedule your workouts in such a manner to ensure you have enough time to rest in between sessions. You are also going to have to make sacrifices to stick to that schedule as well as you can, no matter what life throws at you.
Overtraining is another aspect that you need to keep in mind. When you are dishing out 3 workouts per day regularly your body may have trouble recovering properly and you may run the risk of overtraining.
Overtraining should not be taken lightly, it is a very serious matter and it can completely end your swimming season. It can also be quite dangerous.
Initially, let’s say for the first 4-6 weeks (maybe even slightly longer) you are definitely going to feel more tired than usual. You should accept this and get used to this level of fatigue, but if fatigue keeps increasing after that initial ‘testing’ period, you should consider taking a few days off or dropping the weight training completely.
To make sure your body is recovering at its best, I would recommend that you get enough sleep, you should eat the right foods and you can even try other recovery methods like ice-baths and things like that.
Does weight training improve swimming?
In short- weight training is a great cross-training method to improve your swimming times and performances. Lifting weights will allow you to strengthen large and important muscle groups that are required to swim fast, such as the lats, quadriceps, and chest. Weight training will also improve physical power output while swimming.
Advances in swim training methods and implementation of weight training and other advanced training methods that modern swimmers use is the reason why new world records are being broken every year.
Like we mentioned earlier there are many strength and power benefits that swimmers can gain from weight training.
Weight training will provide added power to a swimmer’s strokes and kicks, it can improve the distance and momentum you gain from your starts, and it allows for increased core strength and even added endurance in some cases.
All of these things can contribute to massive improvements in your speed through the water. It can help you to win gold, to snatch up that big qualifying time, or to break that long-standing meet record.
What is better- weight training or classic dry-land training?
Both weight- and dry-land training have their benefits for swimmers. Many professional swimmers combine both weight training and dry-land to gain the maximum benefit.
However, since you are most likely not a professional swimmer, I would recommend that you pick one and stick with it. Consistency is a key component of success.
Weight training is more focused on building strength and power, where dry-land training is usually focused on more functional exercises aimed at mimicking swimming patterns.
Both of these training methods will help you to become a faster swimmer.
Personally I like weight training more. Not because it’s necessarily better, but because I enjoy it more. When I am swimming all day, the last thing I want to do is more exercise that feels similar to swimming- just harder.
If you’re like me and you like the idea of weight training more, then I recommend that you make sure to still incorporate enough core training as well, to ensure optimal results. About 2 core exercises each workout will be more than enough.
If you are looking for some good core exercises I recommend my article “10 awesome core exercises swimmers can do at home”.
So there you have it. I hope this article answered most of your questions regarding weight lifting and provided you with some valuable information.
Weight lifting can be very beneficial for swimmers in many ways and if you feel like you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, then I highly recommend you try it out.
Remember to always stay responsible in the weight room, warm up properly and do your stretching to avoid injuries. Consistency is also very important. Stick to your training program, week by week, month by month and you will reap the rewards.
If you don’t, you are wasting your time and you are better off spending your extra time playing video games or hanging out with your friends and family.
If you have any additional questions be sure to drop a comment and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
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