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Old 02-11-2012
san san is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 7
Default Weights & Flexibility

My 2cts.

Gym 'n Weights
I focus on certain muscle groups if I feel a distinct muscle fatigue in one of my main sports (swim, bike, run). Everything else would be a waste of time and building unwanted muscle mass.

My "does it all" weapon since a couple of years: Pilates with some Yoga flavorings once a week. It's my "heal all" medicine. Trains the core, the flex, and the balance.

Dry land vs. aquatic experience
Generally agree with the "dry land achievments don't help in the water" approach. However, a little bit of pull-roping trains my shoulders and my technique.

Hip drop
Hips drop when heads go up. The head goes up in my experience when one does not give in to gravity: Most don't dare get too much water between the head and the water surface. Try it - Give in! Go low with your head and your hips will go high. This will force you to roll more to catch air without struggeling your head to the surface.

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Old 02-12-2012
naj naj is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624

Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Naj, your comments remind me of Pavel's Naked Warrior. have you read it?
No tell me more Coach Suzanne!
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Old 02-12-2012
CoachDave's Avatar
CoachDave CoachDave is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 249
Default My 2 cents, too

Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
Without any doubt my breathing is the first factor preventing me to swim more than 100m. However there is also a 2nd one: Muscular endurance.

After some time my arms become tired, my hips drop as a result of tired core muscles.... clearly this affects technique. For example as my arms get tired, I do not seem to be able to bring my elbow forward as well and rebalance the body forward on recovery.

I am sure that the more I swim, the more I will build my muscular endurance.

But my question is GYM related: If I become stronger or more flexible, will this help my muscles produce the effort over a longer distance?

1. If I go to the Gym, should I focus on building strength (heavy weights, 3 sets of 8)?
2. Or should I focus on fast longer sets (may be lighter weights, 5 sets of 15 repetition each)?
3. Does stretching (shoulder flexibility) also relate to being able to swim longer distances without tiring?

Thanks. ALEX
I'd catch onto that first statement right away- you're getting feedback from coaches that there is doubt that your breathing is the problem. It's likely that other habits are making you out of breath, so even if you swam with a snorkel, you might still get winded. Strength training shouldn't be thrown up onto the list of priorities anytime soon because you're working way harder than needed as a result of the stroke you've got.
But your question wasn't about that. It was about what to do in the gym, and there's a lot of ideas out there. I have perspective on this based on my own experience and that of my athletes.
In my own swimming, I went through some pretty incredible strength and cardio training in high school. My stroke wasn't improved upon during that time, and even though I added a ton of generic strength and some crazy endurance on the air dyne bike, I only dropped 8 seconds between my sophomore and senior year in the 500. All the while, it was all strength that focused on particulate muscles, but I never knew which ones were trained for what reason. I did not do any exercises to strengthen muscles supporting my shoulders or posture, and the mass volumes of training while my posture broke down added to my list of injuries by the end of high school. I lifted far less often in college, swam lower volume but with much more focus on stroke development, and destroyed my old times (and loved the sport again because of the reduction in pain). Recently, I've been trying out many methods of strength training, and I've come to the conclusion that I need two things in my own training:
1. In the middle of weeks that include dozens of lessons, 20-30 hours of practices, and workshops on the weekends (there really is no end), I enjoy releasing stress by smashing a tire with a hammer, whipping the ropes, testing my awareness of form while fatigue is trying to steer me elsewhere, and doing anything else that is demanded of me in the "Gladiator" workout. People note that I'm a much warmer and fuzzier (well, maybe not that much) person with this routine, and I'm definitely happier. For right now, it gives me a peace of mind that opens me up to far better focus in my swimming.
2. Having a trainer there to help my form has allowed me to hit on areas related to my swimming that I've always wanted to address. My posture all the way through my swimming career has been horrible, and bulking up for two English Channel swims didn't inspire me to build appropriate strength to support the extra weight. Doing my workouts this fall had a huge impact on my swimming after not putting pool time in for months. My distance speed was more sustainable, my form is slowly improving, and I feel better after a workout without the heavy slouching at dinner that so many swimmers get in the habit of. The posture work in TRX and lower back focus in kettle bell training is really helping me, but it's because I've been weak there for so long that it provides me with such an opportunity. Athletes like Terry and Shane have used Yoga and T'ai Chi to build better posture and balance for years, and if done correctly and with guidance, dynamic strength training can serve a similar purpose. Most strength training is focused on the muscle and not a motion's connection with balance and posture, so make sure that if you're lifting something, you're aware of how that movement affects every aspect of your balance and posture, just like any pressure or propulsive force in swimming.

For the young athletes I train, I aim to prevent them from getting tired of the sport and help them avoid any injury in both swimming and conditioning. I don't specifically condition them for swimming but instead aim to help them build excellent athleticism and awareness. That will make their time in the pool far more effective because they're building an understanding of balance and cross-body communication that will help them in swimming even though it's in a different environment and with different balance forces.

So, the long answer to your short questions would be that muscular endurance could have that effect, but probably not in the way you think. If a runner or cyclist strengthens their legs but their posture breaks down, they're definitely not getting payback for all that strength training. The same holds true in swimming. Conditioning that will help your endurance in balance and streamlining is far more important than weight training to increase propulsive forces. If you go in the weight room and have a routine that helps you build awareness and endurance for posture and stability in the pool, it's hard to argue that it's a bad thing.
Dave Cameron
Total Immersion Master Coach
Head Coach- Minneapolis YWCA Otters and Masters and MN Tri Masters
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