There are a number of great reasons swimmers should hit the weight room – even if your goal may not be to build arms like the Incredible Hulk. Strength training can improve swimming performance, body awareness, and keep things fresh!

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Related: MySwimPro – The #1 Dryland Training App for Swimmers

Gaining strength also helps prevent injury. “You’ll increase bone density and strengthen the tendons and ligaments, so not only are you simply able to lift more weight, but you’re also building resistance to injury,” explains Michael Boyle, a strength and conditioning coach and functional training expert in Boston.

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What is the Best Form of Strength Training?

What’s the best form of strength training? Realistically, it’s the one you will actually do on a consistent schedule! Find a program that suits you, whether it is with a personal trainer or a group that realizes the uniqueness of a swimmer. Moreover, if you are lifting weights, you need to have proper form and progressions.

Strength training is most effective when swimmers progress steadily from fundamental movements to more challenging exercises. It is important to remember that each swimmer has a different baseline level of strength and coordination. Use progressions to improve your strength, athleticism, and overall performance.

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Circuit Routines V.S. Traditional Strength Training

Each opportunity is accompanied with responsibility. Don’t just go jump into any silly strength-training program without understanding the basics first!

In a circuit routine, you’ll do each exercise in succession without a break in between (if you’re able). Once you’ve finished all exercises in the circuit, you do it again. If you’re doing this type of workout routine, it’s easy to get fatigued quickly. It’s better to stop and take a break than to do an exercise incorrectly.

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Below is a simple circuit of 6 exercises. These are typically done for time or number of repetitions.

  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 jumping Jacks
  • Repeat for 3 rounds

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In the more traditional strength style workout, you complete one set of an exercise and then rest, and then another set of the same exercise, and so on.

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3 x 10 Squats would look like this:

  • 10 Squats
  • Rest
  • 10 Squats
  • Rest
  • 10 Squats
  • Rest

So, which one is better? If your main goal is to just increase overall strength, then a circuit style workout will be slightly more beneficial. If you’re looking to gain significant muscle mass you’ll need to follow the more traditional strength style workout.

Related: 10 Swiss Ball Dryland Exercises for Swimmers

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Additional Tips:

  • Always return the weights when you’re done. Make sure the weights get back to their proper racks. Don’t be that person.
  • If someone else wants to use the equipment, you can offer to let them “work in with you,” which means they do their sets while you rest, and vice versa. If you’re not comfortable with this (and chances are for your first few workouts you won’t be), it’s okay to say no or not offer. If you say no, you can say something like “I have only 2 more sets left.”
  • If someone is using the equipment you’re using, it’s okay to ask how many sets they have left, but don’t pressure them to finish quicker. You can also ask them if you can work in with them.
  • When lifting heavy weights or trying a new exercise, it’s recommended to ask for help or a spotter. A spotter’s job is to act as a second pair of hands when you’re performing an exercise, so that if you can’t finish a repetition, they’re there to help you. Spotters are especially useful on bench press or squats, where you don’t have a machine to catch the weight if you fail. If you’re not sure that you can finish a rep, TAKE THE SAFE ROUTE AND ASK FOR A SPOTTER. Don’t assume they think you’re new to what you’re doing – probably the opposite, they just want to help. If someone asks you to spot them and you’ve never spotted someone before, tell them that you would love to help but haven’t done it before so you could use some pointers.
  • If you get the equipment sweaty, wipe it down.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of room between you and others.
  • Get in and out – don’t sit on the equipment forever. Do your sets, with the proper rest periods (30sec – 1min)!
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Related: 15 Low Impact Dryland Exercises for Swimmers

Also, remember to start slow! If you can only perform bodyweight exercises, that is great. You will still get all the benefits listed above. Take responsibility for your strength training, and pick a safe, realistic program! The dryland training plans in the MySwimPro app are a great place to start:

Swimmer Strength dryland plan

Ready to get started? Download the MySwimPro app and start your free trial of ELITE COACH to begin your personalized swimming and dryland training plan.

Good luck and swim strong!

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