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Jazz Hands
May 10th, 2011, 06:14 PM
This thread is an expansion of Ande's Swimming Faster Faster Tip 31: Get Strong. This is where I give advice on how to get stronger for the purpose of swimming faster.

I'm an authority on this subject only in a limited sense. I'm not a swim coach or a strength coach. I made a lot of improvement in my swimming when I started lifting weights, and I've given advice to a few other people (swimmers and non-swimmers) on how to get started on strength training. I draw a lot on conventional strength training wisdom. That's general strength training, not strength training for swimming.

In my opinion, and this is probably the most radical theme I'm going to stick with here, strength training advice for swimmers has always sucked. It is most often some kind of perverted and watered down version of the strength training that actual strong people do. A lot of buzzwords get added (e.g., "functional") and actual weight (i.e., iron) gets subtracted. My number one principle for strength training is this: it's not swimming! Don't mimic strokes, don't worry about skills. Just get stronger. The strength will transfer.

Safety

I'm starting with this at Jim Thornton's suggestion. Your first priority in the weight room is to avoid getting hurt.

Joint pain
This is just like swimming. The rule is: if it hurts, don't do it. Tendonitis comes on slowly, and when you feel it, you should stop doing whatever exercise causes it. There are also rehab/prehab exercises for strength and flexibility targeting any joint you can think of.

Lower back
Some lifts, particularly squats and deadlifts, require you to bend over at the waist. Do these in a mirror where you can see your side profile whenever possible, or have somebody watch your form. You need to keep your lower back slightly arched at all times, never flexed while supporting a significant weight. Some techniques to promote good form are: looking up, trying to point your chest to the ceiling, and trying to push your butt backward. Use whatever combination of these cues work for you, and check your form visually.

Dropping weight
Common sense. Overhead weights are dangerous. Don't drop heavy stuff on your head. When doing any exercise, ask yourself what would happen if you suddenly passed out and collapsed. Would the weight hit you? Would it choke you? I'm not saying to avoid exercises like that, but be careful. End your sets before you start feeling shaky. Use stops on a power rack. Ask somebody to spot you (unless you are doing squats and you aren't good friends already). Again, this should really be common sense.

Muscle soreness
Sorry, this is not an injury. I just put it here to make sure nobody mistakes it for one :) It's going to happen, and it's probably going to be far more intense than what you get from swimming.

Exercise selection

Exercise selection is all about variety. It's important to strengthen all of the muscles on the body, and you can do that by focusing on three basic movements: push, pull, and squat. Do these basic movements at different angles and positions to strengthen the entire body. Choosing different grips and equipment can also keep you from getting bored with weight training, and it can prevent joint injuries.

Push

In pushing, the elbows straighten and move away from the body. The two basic angles for pushing are forward and upward. Here's the barbell bench press, a forward pushing movement:
YouTube - Instructional Fitness - Bench Press


And here's the standing barbell shoulder press, an upward pushing movement:
YouTube - Build Muscle: Barbell Shoulder Press


And of course there are different angles and hybrids. For example, incline bench press is in between shoulder press and bench press. Also, any of these things can be done with dumbbells or other equipment.

Pull

Pulling means elbows bend and come toward the body. The two basic angles for pulling are downward and backward. Here's the dumbbell row, a backward pulling movement:
YouTube - Instructional Fitness - One-arm Dumbbell Rows


And here's a pull-up, which is not just a downward pulling movement, but the downward pulling movement that all beginning lifters must do, because of all of the different muscles it stresses:
YouTube - dead-hang pull ups with 70lb kettlebell.AVI


Squat

The squatting movement is the basis for all lower body development. My favorite squatting movement is the barbell lunge, which puts less relative stress on the lower back by working one leg at a time:
YouTube - Lunges 225 X 7


If you bend over without bending much at the knees, squatting turns into a deadlift variation. Here's the sumo deadlift:
YouTube - How to Sumo Deadlift


Load, volume, and frequency

These are parameters you need to balance. Load means: how heavy is the weight? Or, more specifically: how much force are your muscles required to produce to move it? Volume means: how many repetitions do you do? How much total work are the muscles doing? Frequency means: how often does a particular muscle get worked? You can do a full-body workout three days a week, or maybe upper body two days a week and lower body one day. Or you can get even more specific. Bodybuilders like to have days like "chest", "arms", and "shoulders" over the course of a week.

I know this sounds arbitrary, but we have to start somewhere. Here are my can't-fail load and volume parameters for newbies:

1. Do a full body workout two or three days a week, involving one push, one pull, and one squat.
2. Do between 2 and 6 sets per exercise, excluding easy/warm-up sets.
3. Do between 5 and 15 reps per set.
4. Don't take less than a full minute of rest between sets.

Within that, knock yourself out. You'll eventually come to some kind of understanding of how you respond to different amounts of volume and load, and how much variety you want. In a bit I'll give you a specific program to start with, if that's too much choice for you.

Failure and fatigue

Fatigue means you start to shake or slow down. Failure means you are no longer able to lift the weight. In my opinion, these things are way overrated. It's fun to challenge yourself and see exactly how many reps you can do to failure, but if you are doing 30 reps of 135 pounds on some exercise, 3 sets of 10 is pretty much the same as 6 sets of 5. I often prefer to do the latter, although it might take slightly longer. It all depends on how much pain you want to be in. There are some minor strength benefits to failure in strength training, but it definitely doesn't have to happen on every set, or even in every workout. It's just another parameter that you can change depending on how you like it.

Introduction plan

This is a plan that follows my guidelines. It's very similar to what I did when I started lifting. The exercises in it are the ones I showed videos of above. If you have more questions about how to do them or set up for them, please ask.

This workout is built on sets of 10 reps. Choose a very light weight to start, and slowly add weight, never more than 20 pounds at a time (or 10 pounds per dumbbell) until you can't complete 10 reps on your last set. Once you learn roughly how much weight you can do on a particular exercise, you can choose a good point to start ramping up from without wasting time.

Workout A
Assisted pull-up machine (Remember, more weight is easier on this.)
Standing barbell shoulder press (Stop any set if you start to feel shaky. Don't go to failure on these!)
Barbell alternating lunge (You can also do this holding dumbbells at your side. Pretty much the same.)

Workout B
One-arm dumbbell row (Switch arms between sets, and stop when either arm fails to get 10 reps.)
Barbell bench press (Stop a bit short of failure, or get a spotter.)
Sumo deadlift (Check your lower back form! The set is over when you lose perfect form.)

Do Workout A, rest a few days, then do Workout B. Repeat. Take extra rest days if you feel like it. Feel free to substitute similar movements if you get bored or don't like the ones I prescribe.

Questions?

Ask me!

pwb
May 10th, 2011, 07:07 PM
Jazz,

Thanks so much for this. As someone who has found weight training to be like learning a way foreign language, this is a great way for me to get re-started!

shahboz
May 10th, 2011, 09:28 PM
Both over head press and bench press are not really great on the shoulders... The cost benefit is a little lopsided especially if you are going through the full range of motion.

Modifications of the exercises would be a better option. Incline chest press for example.

Jazz Hands
May 10th, 2011, 09:35 PM
Jazz,

Thanks so much for this. As someone who has found weight training to be like learning a way foreign language, this is a great way for me to get re-started!

You use a home gym, right? If you give me some idea of your equipment limitations, I can make some specific suggestions on lift selection.

Bobinator
May 10th, 2011, 09:39 PM
Thanks Jazz!! I've been looking for something like this thread!! I will follow this daily and put it to good use. :applaud:

The Fortress
May 10th, 2011, 10:33 PM
Thanks Jazz!! I've been looking for something like this thread!! I will follow this daily and put it to good use. :applaud:

Agree. Great thread.

Is functional training really that bad? I know some of it may be for non-athletes, but I think certain functional training could be beneficial for swimming. Isn't the hip hinge you've done an example of this?

What is the rationale for doing 5 reps vs 15 reps? I know you do both, but why?

How do you do an incline chest press without a Hammer machine?

Do you advise lifting differently for short course vs. long course?

orca1946
May 10th, 2011, 10:39 PM
I would think that a swimmer would do more reps because of the distance of our races.

Jimbosback
May 10th, 2011, 11:12 PM
Awesome post. Finally something I might be able to help out with.

One thing that could be added alongside dropping: picking up the weights and getting into position. I was taught that most people (who get hurt) get hurt by not taking this part seriously -- even a light dumbell can hurt you badly when picked up awkwardly. That clean the guy uses in the overhead press example is not such a beginner move. Do you have tips regarding this?


Something I am wondering -- I love to do flies (forward and reverse). They are generally left out of recommended exercises. Is there something bad about flies? Have they been replaced with something safer/better?

Jimbosback
May 10th, 2011, 11:16 PM
Both over head press and bench press are not really great on the shoulders... The cost benefit is a little lopsided especially if you are going through the full range of motion.

Modifications of the exercises would be a better option. Incline chest press for example.

Those lifts are a lot like swimming -- good technique should not be injuring joints. Inclines typically cause more stress on joints.

Syd
May 11th, 2011, 01:23 AM
Very thorough, Jazz. However, I only skim read it and will have to go back again and read more carefully when I have time. I have been out of the water for almost a year. Should be getting back into it again, soon. This is as good a time as ever for starting good habits like getting into the gym. To be honest, I never have been one for lifting weights or gym workouts. Perhaps it is because I have always lived in very warm climates. I far prefer the coolness of the water. I do occasionally go to the gym (when I think about it) but it is more out of a feeling of "this is something I should be doing" rather than as a part of a larger plan to improve my swimming.
Great post.
Best,
Syd

david.margrave
May 11th, 2011, 01:50 AM
A couple years back I was doing a lot of overhead barbell presses and dropped about 2 seconds in the 50 breast (38.5 50m to 32.6 50 yd. in 6 months, I think that works out to about 2 seconds improvement after conversions). I think the overhead presses were a big part of it. I didn't go as fast this year due to some training breaks and maybe changes in weight training routine (changed to 3x/week split instead of full-body each time).

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 08:12 AM
Is functional training really that bad? I know some of it may be for non-athletes, but I think certain functional training could be beneficial for swimming. Isn't the hip hinge you've done an example of this?

I do the hip hinge for strength. It's a very good hamstring exercise. The lack of stability causes other muscles to work, but I don't see any reason to believe that it would improve swimming technique.

I recommend working on strength when you're working on strength. Not endurance, swimming skills, or balance. Flexibility is an exception, because stretch and full range of motion are great for building strength. Even so, if you go into a weight room thinking of all the cool flexibility stuff you're going to do, that's not going to be a good strength workout. Focus on one thing at a time.


What is the rationale for doing 5 reps vs 15 reps? I know you do both, but why?

Whatever you feel like doing. I don't see any reason to believe in rep range "zones" for different attributes. It's much more important to have an enjoyable workout.


How do you do an incline chest press without a Hammer machine?

There are incline bench press stations at most gyms. You can also use dumbbells on an adjustable bench.


Do you advise lifting differently for short course vs. long course?

Nope. Strength is strength.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 08:14 AM
I would think that a swimmer would do more reps because of the distance of our races.

I disagree. You do your high reps in the pool. If you do the same thing in the weight room, you are duplicating effort. The weights give you a unique workout because they provide more resistance than the water can. Take advantage of that.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 08:24 AM
One thing that could be added alongside dropping: picking up the weights and getting into position. I was taught that most people (who get hurt) get hurt by not taking this part seriously -- even a light dumbell can hurt you badly when picked up awkwardly. That clean the guy uses in the overhead press example is not such a beginner move. Do you have tips regarding this?

Yeah, the lower back advice in the "Safety" section is also good to think about when you're carrying stuff around.

Regarding the clean for overhead pressing, there are actually two steps to get into position: deadlift and hang clean. The deadlift is pretty simple with light weight: just keep your lower back arched. Here's a hang clean video:

YouTube - Mike Burgener: Coaching The Hang Power Clean


Obviously you don't need to put so much leg power into it if it's only a 20-pound bar, but that's the basic idea: using a little dip and some leg drive to easily pull the weight to your shoulders. If anyone finds this stuff too difficult, most gyms have a seated overhead barbell press station. You can also do dumbbell press, although getting into position for that isn't easy either:

YouTube - Weight Lifting Exercises for Beginners : Learn the Dumbbell Shoulder Press Weight Lifting Exercise



Something I am wondering -- I love to do flies (forward and reverse). They are generally left out of recommended exercises. Is there something bad about flies? Have they been replaced with something safer/better?

They are fine. The workouts I wrote are made up of very effective multi-joint exercises that allow you to move a lot of weight with a lot of different muscles. Flies are a little bit more isolated, so they are something I would do in addition to the big lifts if you have time.

shahboz
May 11th, 2011, 09:18 AM
Those lifts are a lot like swimming -- good technique should not be injuring joints. Inclines typically cause more stress on joints.

Bench is horrible for shoulders period and inclines do not put more stress on the joint (than flat bench). But you are right, overhead can be done safely, and technique is key. If you have a history of shoulder issues I personally would skip it. Again cost vs benefit.

I look at it like this, build strength doing exercises that match or closely match movements in water, in addition strengthen muscles that help to keep things like your shoulders free from injury. Basically do no damage... I also work core for body position, and plyos for explosive starts and turns. Functional exercises like rock climbing are great for building additional strength and work well for swimming.

Typical workout for me:
General stretching
3-4 sets (usually 8-10each) of pull-ups with "v"s, "t"s and "y"s between the pull-ups (10 at 8lbs - light weight)
3 sets of 12 cleans - light weight - flutter kicks between each set
*3 sets of 10-12 dumbbell curls - 10-12 reps
3-4 sets of single arm pulls with heavy bands standing on one foot 12-14 reps per arm - bench dips - between sets 25 reps
3-4 sets of tri extension with bands laying on a ball (back stroke position) 25 reps
3 sets of machine rows 8-10 reps
3 sets of cable tri extension - 30 seconds on as many reps as possible.
Balance squats standing on a medicine ball, 2 feet , 1 foot
Box jumps
More pull-ups in various positions.
Stretch again

I do go heaver but it depends on the time of year/season. I also don't do a lot of rest between sets. This is an advanced workout but can be paired down.

Chris Stevenson
May 11th, 2011, 09:24 AM
I don't see any reason to believe in rep range "zones" for different attributes. It's much more important to have an enjoyable workout.

It is for this reason that I like to mix up reps and weights (and to a smaller extent recovery time between sets) over time: to avoid losing motivation when you hit a plateau. Changing to different exercises can also work for this, I suppose.

I don't know whether there are different types of benefits associated with different rep ranges -- others seem to think so but I have no direct experience of this phenomenon, at least as it relates to swimming performance.

I like your thoughts about the (lack of) necessity for working to failure, though certainly I do feel some fatigue at the end of sets (otherwise I'm not sure I'm working hard enough). I also agree with that statements about weights not duplicating the high-rep/low-resistance workouts you get in the water.

I am not so sure that translating strength gains in the weight room to the swimming pool is as straightforward as you stated earlier. I have been wondering lately whether there may be a place in the training cycle -- maybe in the weeks leading into the taper phase -- where you reduce intensity in the weight room and add more strength-related exercises in the water (eg, swimming against resistance -- by using chutes, for example -- or using paddles or doing sets that work more on "explosiveness").

I tried this just informally this past season: I stopped doing weights about 8 weeks out from nationals (training wasn't the only reason for this, there were also some time constraints due to work as well as aching elbows that needed a little break from the weightroom). To compensate I tried to do some of those strength-related exercises I mentioned in the water. I didn't feel any less strong than usual at nationals, and my performances didn't suffer for it either, IMO.

Understand, I don't think that these things can replace weights on an ongoing basis. You just cannot generate the same resistance in the water that you can in the weight room. But I also don't feel the benefits of a good weight program are lost in a mere 1-2 weeks, either, especially if you do power-type things in the pool.

As a related point: opinions about when to stop weights going into taper seem to be all over the map. Some people lift almost up to the meet itself, wanting to feel powerful. Others (I am among them) like 3 weeks or more. Thoughts?

The Fortress
May 11th, 2011, 10:02 AM
Bench is horrible for shoulders period and inclines do not put more stress on the joint (than flat bench). But you are right, overhead can be done safely, and technique is key. If you have a history of shoulder issues I personally would skip it. Again cost vs benefit.

I look at it like this, build strength doing exercises that match or closely match movements in water, in addition strengthen muscles that help to keep things like your shoulders free from injury. Basically do no damage... I also work core for body position, and plyos for explosive starts and turns. Functional exercises like rock climbing are great for building additional strength and work well for swimming.

Typical workout for me:
General stretching
3-4 sets (usually 8-10each) of pull-ups with "v"s, "t"s and "y"s between the
pull-ups (10 at 8lbs - light weight)
3 sets of 12 cleans - light weight - flutter kicks between each set
*3 sets of 10-12 dumbbell curls - 10-12 reps
3-4 sets of single arm pulls with heavy bands standing on one foot 12-14 reps per arm - bench dips - between sets 25 reps
3-4 sets of tri extension with bands laying on a ball (back stroke position) 25 reps
3 sets of machine rows 8-10 reps
3 sets of cable tri extension - 30 seconds on as many reps as possible
Balance squats standing on a medicine ball, 2 feet , 1 foot
Box jumps
More pull-ups in various positions.
Stretch again

I do go heaver but it depends on the time of year/season. I also don't do a lot of rest between sets. This is an advanced workout but can be paired down.

Your workout seems very upper body oriented. You do a squat on a med ball?! Or did you mean bosu?

For explosive power, I think eccentric exercises, extreme angle isometrics and plyos have a role.

As to Chris' question, I drop all drylands three weeks out. It takes forever for my legs to rest.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 10:05 AM
Bench is horrible for shoulders period and inclines do not put more stress on the joint (than flat bench). But you are right, overhead can be done safely, and technique is key. If you have a history of shoulder issues I personally would skip it. Again cost vs benefit.

I look at it like this, build strength doing exercises that match or closely match movements in water, in addition strengthen muscles that help to keep things like your shoulders free from injury. Basically do no damage... I also work core for body position, and plyos for explosive starts and turns. Functional exercises like rock climbing are great for building additional strength and work well for swimming.

Typical workout for me:
• General stretching
• 3-4 sets (usually 8-10each) of pull-ups with "v"s, "t"s and "y"s between the pull-ups (10 at 8lbs - light weight)
• 3 sets of 12 cleans - light weight - flutter kicks between each set
•*3 sets of 10-12 dumbbell curls - 10-12 reps
• 3-4 sets of single arm pulls with heavy bands standing on one foot 12-14 reps per arm - bench dips - between sets 25 reps
• 3-4 sets of tri extension with bands laying on a ball (back stroke position) 25 reps
• 3 sets of machine rows 8-10 reps
• 3 sets of cable tri extension - 30 seconds on as many reps as possible.
• Balance squats standing on a medicine ball, 2 feet , 1 foot
• Box jumps
• More pull-ups in various positions.
• Stretch again

I do go heaver but it depends on the time of year/season. I also don't do a lot of rest between sets. This is an advanced workout but can be paired down.

You hate bench press and say it is bad "period", but you do bench dips? That's funny; I don't do dips of any kind because they hurt my shoulders in an extreme way, and yet I did bench press earlier this week and it was fine. Different people respond differently. Don't tell people that some exercise is bad just because you personally get pain when you try it.

Edit: snark removal :)

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 10:17 AM
I am not so sure that translating strength gains in the weight room to the swimming pool is as straightforward as you stated earlier. I have been wondering lately whether there may be a place in the training cycle -- maybe in the weeks leading into the taper phase -- where you reduce intensity in the weight room and add more strength-related exercises in the water (eg, swimming against resistance -- by using chutes, for example -- or using paddles or doing sets that work more on "explosiveness").

I tried this just informally this past season: I stopped doing weights about 8 weeks out from nationals (training wasn't the only reason for this, there were also some time constraints due to work as well as aching elbows that needed a little break from the weightroom). To compensate I tried to do some of those strength-related exercises I mentioned in the water. I didn't feel any less strong than usual at nationals, and my performances didn't suffer for it either, IMO.

Understand, I don't think that these things can replace weights on an ongoing basis. You just cannot generate the same resistance in the water that you can in the weight room. But I also don't feel the benefits of a good weight program are lost in a mere 1-2 weeks, either, especially if you do power-type things in the pool.

As a related point: opinions about when to stop weights going into taper seem to be all over the map. Some people lift almost up to the meet itself, wanting to feel powerful. Others (I am among them) like 3 weeks or more. Thoughts?

I agree with you, and I should clarify something about the transfer of strength: it only takes place in the long term. The strength gains or losses a person will see in one or two weeks are overwhelmingly just skill-related. You learn to be more efficient at doing particular lifts. That's nice and all, but it has nothing to do with swimming.

For a taper, I don't think there would be much residual fatigue from lifting past two weeks. Muscle atrophy can start to occur at that point, although strength work in the water can prevent it. Personally, I don't ever do more than a two-week layoff from weights.

This also depends on how often you taper. If you drop weights three weeks out, four times a year, you lose a quarter of your potential strength building time. You risk being in a situation where you never get stronger, but only regain what you lost while you were resting.

knelson
May 11th, 2011, 10:18 AM
I don't do dips of any kind because they hurt my shoulders in an extreme way, and yet I did bench press earlier this week and it was fine. Different people respond differently.

I agree. Bench never bothered my shoulders at all, but dips always do.

swimmerb212
May 11th, 2011, 10:28 AM
This thread reminds me a lot of an article that I recently read which has inspired me & my swim buddy to take up some old-fashioned weight training:

http://www.mensjournal.com/everything-you-know-about-fitness-is-a-lie

We're starting with bench press, squats, and deadlifts, as well as some isometrics recommended in the article. I'm still in the mode where I'm feeling sore all the time while I get used to it, but I love that this is pure strength, which is something I think many of us amateurs and newbies can really use. (In a few weeks, I've already added 20 pounds to all my sets.)

There's a lot of crazy weight regiments and expensive programs out there (many of which feature the letter "X") but right now I'm of the opinion that working on building some basic strength might really be the key for many of us.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 10:46 AM
This thread reminds me a lot of an article that I recently read which has inspired me & my swim buddy to take up some old-fashioned weight training:

http://www.mensjournal.com/everything-you-know-about-fitness-is-a-lie

We're starting with bench press, squats, and deadlifts, as well as some isometrics recommended in the article. I'm still in the mode where I'm feeling sore all the time while I get used to it, but I love that this is pure strength, which is something I think many of us amateurs and newbies can really use. (In a few weeks, I've already added 20 pounds to all my sets.)

There's a lot of crazy weight regiments and expensive programs out there (many of which feature the letter "X") but right now I'm of the opinion that working on building some basic strength might really be the key for many of us.

All swimmers need to read that article. Thanks for sharing it. I wish you lots of fun on your new lifting program.

SwimKat
May 11th, 2011, 11:19 AM
Your workout seems very upper body oriented. You do a squat on a med ball?! Or did you mean bosu?

For explosive power, I think eccentric exercises, extreme angle isometrics and plyos have a role.

As to Chris' question, I drop all drylands three weeks out. It takes forever for my legs to rest.

I agree with regards to eccentric exercises. I think they are great for injury prevention too since you can gaining strength using slightly lighter weights and you stress the muscle in the way which I at least normally incur injuries these days - while its being stretched vs contracted.

I also think lifting to failure is important. I try to pick a weight where I can barely achieve 8-12 reps, focusing on perfect form and explosive lift followed by slow return (up to 10 secs). If I can do more than 12 reps then I up the weight. If I start a rep and can tell I wont get it done without compromising form, I stop and consider that failure.

Hard lifting does impact my swim workouts, but the benefits are clear when I rest/taper.

shahboz
May 11th, 2011, 01:14 PM
You hate bench press and say it is bad "period", but you do bench dips? That's funny; I don't do dips of any kind because they hurt my shoulders in an extreme way, and yet I did bench press earlier this week and it was fine. Different people respond differently. Don't tell people that some exercise is bad just because you personally get pain when you try it.

Edit: snark removal :)

Yep, the bench dips are un-weighted and I can control the angle. Im also not talking bar dips. I can do them lifting my body from the arms of a chair if need be. BTW they do that in the Silver Sneakers senior citizens strengthening classes.

Sorry but as far as bench goes... The PT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) who also works with the US National team and other international elite swimmers who is standing next to me says otherwise.

I think I believe her a bit more than some "Interweb expert" who starts his post with: "I'm an authority on this subject only in a limited sense. I'm not a swim coach or a strength coach." Just for the record, I am also a USAS coach and have been working with athletes in different disciplines for quite a while.

So if you are not an expert why post on a subject? Your anecdotal gains really have no research base and some of the advice/movements could actually injure people who look to this forum for advice.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 01:20 PM
Yep, the bench dips are un-weighted and I can control the angle. Im also not talking bar dips. I can do them lifting my body from the arms of a chair if need be. BTW they do that in the Silver Sneakers senior citizens strengthening classes.

Sorry but as far as bench goes... The PT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS) who also works with the US National team and other international elite swimmers who is standing next to me says otherwise.

I think I believe her a bit more than some "Interweb expert" who starts his post with: "I'm an authority on this subject only in a limited sense. I'm not a swim coach or a strength coach." Just for the record, I am also a USAS coach and have been working with athletes in different disciplines for quite a while.

So if you are not an expert why post on a subject? Your anecdotal gains really have no research base and some of the advice/movements could actually injure people who look to this forum for advice.

I started this thread because people often ask me for advice on this subject.

As many certifications as you and your friends have, I can tell from your typical workout that you actually don't know anything about strength. You clearly represent the USAS standard understanding of strength training. That's lovely for you, but it sucks for people who want to get stronger and swim faster.

shahboz
May 11th, 2011, 01:24 PM
And also to mention at the Olympic Training Center this past weekend a strength coach spoke to swimmers/coaches on this very subject. They talked primarily about having swimmers do weight room exercises that mirror there training and to look more at modified Crossfit type workouts over traditional strength workouts.

I was not there but one of team coaches was... just relaying the information.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 01:26 PM
And also to mention at the Olympic Training Center this past weekend a strength coach spoke to swimmers/coaches on this very subject. They talked primarily about having swimmers do weight room exercises that mirror there training and to look more at modified Crossfit type workouts over traditional strength workouts.

I was not there but one of team coaches was... just relaying the information.

I'm quite aware that you merely relay information. The alternative would be thinking, but that's hard, right?

shahboz
May 11th, 2011, 01:31 PM
And your expertise comes from where?

shahboz
May 11th, 2011, 01:36 PM
I started this thread because people often ask me for advice on this subject.

As many certifications as you and your friends have, I can tell from your typical workout that you actually don't know anything about strength. You clearly represent the USAS standard understanding of strength training. That's lovely for you, but it sucks for people who want to get stronger and swim faster.


And the US swimmers do such a bad job representing the US at the Olympics.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 01:39 PM
And your expertise comes from where?

I'm going to ask you a favor. Do not post any more in this thread, please. You've said your stuff, and anyone can read it and judge it.

There are some people who are no longer asking for me to prove "expertise" on this subject. Some of them have met me and trained with me in person, some of them have read my personal workouts, and some of them have just seen me rant about stuff. I'm sure they all have differing reasons for caring what I say, but they seem to care, so I'm saying it.

You obviously don't care, and furthermore I don't care about making you care. I would just like you to stop insulting me and realize why this thread exists. If you want to present alternative advice from a different set of principles, please start a new thread.

__steve__
May 11th, 2011, 01:43 PM
That's right everyone is way different.

I can do dips no problem, sometimes with a 25 or 35lb for added weight on days I feel spunky. But bench pressing or military presses kill my shoulderz, I avoid them like the plague

As far as expertise, I will take the advice on this thread as good info, because I know how fast the author is.

That Guy
May 11th, 2011, 02:43 PM
This thread reminds me a lot of an article that I recently read which has inspired me & my swim buddy to take up some old-fashioned weight training:

http://www.mensjournal.com/everything-you-know-about-fitness-is-a-lie


Page 4 of that article talks about supercompensation effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercompensation

I have been using this effect to increase my effectiveness in competition for years, but I never knew what it was called or why it worked. Thanks swimmerb212!

marksman
May 11th, 2011, 03:16 PM
I was watching a youtube video recently where the author mentioned why reducing drag is so important and that increasing strength alone, in the absence of reduction in drag, will be an uphill battle because increases in strength alone don't produce nearly the kind of gains that we might hope for.

If one wants to increase strength, I would think that doing, say, faster than race pace 25 yd sprints, or power work with fins or hand paddles, would be a very good way to combine strength work with drag reduction work. I think I notice drag, and address it, much better when I'm doing sprint sets to be honest. When I'm swimming at much less than race pace, I can get sloppy without paying as dear a price.

Just try doing 25yd max effort dolphin kicking or flutter kicking. That is exhausting work, and it actually makes me nauseated sometimes! I think sometimes we prefer dryland because it's *easier*.

quicksilver
May 11th, 2011, 04:02 PM
I was watching a youtube video recently where the author mentioned why reducing drag is so important and that increasing strength alone, in the absence of reduction in drag, will be an uphill battle because increases in strength alone don't produce nearly the kind of gains that we might hope for.


That's a good point and quite true. I'm sure all of us have seen the body builder types enter the 50 free and do nothing more than pound the water for half a minute. Good form always wins over brawn. Not the other way around.

I think the value in this thread is really for swimmers who might want to implement various forms of strength training to enhance their current performance levels. The gym is something which all athletes can benefit from.

qbrain
May 11th, 2011, 04:06 PM
build strength doing exercises that match or closely match movements in water

Strength imbalances are common in swimmers and should not be reinforced.

A general strength building plan makes sense for masters swimmers because it can correct muscle imbalances, increase proprioception and maintain bone density. These are guaranteed benefits to go along with the more difficult to quantify strength to speed improvements.

Shahboz, your example workout is pretty unbalanced. Jazz's push+pull+squat plan is general, well founded strength training advice.

The Fortress
May 11th, 2011, 04:53 PM
If one wants to increase strength, I would think that doing, say, faster than race pace 25 yd sprints, or power work with fins or hand paddles, would be a very good way to combine strength work with drag reduction work.

Just try doing 25yd max effort dolphin kicking or flutter kicking. That is exhausting work, and it actually makes me nauseated sometimes! I think sometimes we prefer dryland because it's *easier*.

Why not do both and see what happens? I've had my fastest times combining max effort swim & kicks (with fins) and drylands to build strength and explosive power.

I think that, when pressed for times, most masters swimmers would rather swim than do drylands. Drylands seems like the low hanging fruit for many.

The Fortress
May 11th, 2011, 05:06 PM
I
For a taper, I don't think there would be much residual fatigue from lifting past two weeks. Muscle atrophy can start to occur at that point, although strength work in the water can prevent it. Personally, I don't ever do more than a two-week layoff from weights.

This also depends on how often you taper. If you drop weights three weeks out, four times a year, you lose a quarter of your potential strength building time. You risk being in a situation where you never get stronger, but only regain what you lost while you were resting.

This may be somewhat depend on age. The 40-50+ group may need a longer recovery-taper time. And many masters taper for SCY-LCM-SCM. If you want fast times, you have to taper correctly. But I must admit that I don't feel like I've gotten much stronger lately and am in maintenance mode. Though I do have more explosive strength from plyos, which is quite helpful for sprinters.

Allen Stark
May 11th, 2011, 05:39 PM
Here is my problem,too many years of doing stupid stuff has left me with lumbar disc problems.If I try to lift very much with like dead lifts or overhead presses my left leg goes numb.I can do pulley exercises and stability ball exercises fine.I want to increase my leg strength,which for a breaststroker is vital,but I seem to be stuck with using the machines for leg presses and leg curls.Any suggestions.

The Fortress
May 11th, 2011, 06:25 PM
Here is my problem,too many years of doing stupid stuff has left me with lumbar disc problems.If I try to lift very much with like dead lifts or overhead presses my left leg goes numb.I can do pulley exercises and stability ball exercises fine.I want to increase my leg strength,which for a breaststroker is vital,but I seem to be stuck with using the machines for leg presses and leg curls.Any suggestions.

What about extreme angle isometrics? I've done these sporadically -- an extreme angle squat, extreme angle lunge, and an extreme angle step up on a box. The first two you do without weights until you get to 5:00 and then you add weight. The last one you do with DBs on a fairly high box with one foot on the box and only the toe of the other foot on the ground. You only use the lead leg to pull you up; I've heard these are better than single leg squats for increasing leg strength. I like to do the extreme angle isometric squat followed by overhead squats and squat jumps with a bar.

Here's a study on the topic:

Extreme Angle Isometrics:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez

Changes in torque and electromyographic activity of the quadriceps femoris muscles following isometric training.Bandy WD, Hanten WP.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Central Arkansas, Conway 72035-0001.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of isometric training of the quadriceps femoris muscles, at different joint angles, on torque production and electromyographic (EMG) activity. SUBJECTS. One hundred seven women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Three groups trained with isometric contractions three times per week at a knee flexion angle of 30, 60, or 90 degrees. The fourth group, which served as a control, did not exercise. METHODS. Isometric torque was measured using a dynamometer, and EMG activity was measured using a multichannel EMG system. Measurements were obtained during maximal isometric contraction of the quadriceps femoris muscles at 15-degree increments from 15 to 105 degrees of knee flexion. Measurements were taken before and after 8 weeks of training. RESULTS. Following isometric exercise, increased torque and EMG activity occurred not only at the angle at which subjects exercised, but also at angles in the range of motion at which exercise did occur. Further analyses indicated that exercising in the lengthened position for the quadriceps femoris muscles (90 degrees of knee flexion) produced increased torque across all angles measured and appeared to be the more effective position for transferring strength and EMG activity to adjacent angles following isometric training as compared with the shorter positions of the muscle (30 degrees and 60 degrees of knee flexion). CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION. These findings suggest that an efficient method for increasing isometric knee extension torque and EMG activity throughout the entire range of motion is to exercise with the quadriceps femoris muscles in the lengthened position.

PMID: 8316579 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] This suggests that isometrics done at the greatest joint angle will, in fact, increase strength throughout the entire range of motion.

swimmerb212
May 11th, 2011, 08:04 PM
Page 4 of that article talks about supercompensation effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercompensation

I have been using this effect to increase my effectiveness in competition for years, but I never knew what it was called or why it worked. Thanks swimmerb212!

I wish I had my own personal scientist to help me figure out the best way to time workouts and intensity. But I'm starting to get into a groove based on trial, error, and the schedule of my day job!

I think the bottom line is that it's going to take some time, perhaps a year or more to really see the results, but it's worth the effort in the meantime.

swimmerb212
May 11th, 2011, 08:06 PM
All swimmers need to read that article. Thanks for sharing it. I wish you lots of fun on your new lifting program.

Thanks, and you're welcome! I was worried for a minute the thread was getting off topic, but I really hope others get to read that article and get as much out of it as I did.

Allen Stark
May 11th, 2011, 09:25 PM
What about extreme angle isometrics? I've done these sporadically -- an extreme angle squat, extreme angle lunge, and an extreme angle step up on a box. The first two you do without weights until you get to 5:00 and then you add weight. The last one you do with DBs on a fairly high box with one foot on the box and only the toe of the other foot on the ground. You only use the lead leg to pull you up; I've heard these are better than single leg squats for increasing leg strength. I like to do the extreme angle isometric squat followed by overhead squats and squat jumps with a bar.

Here's a study on the topic:

Extreme Angle Isometrics:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez

Changes in torque and electromyographic activity of the quadriceps femoris muscles following isometric training.Bandy WD, Hanten WP.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Central Arkansas, Conway 72035-0001.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of isometric training of the quadriceps femoris muscles, at different joint angles, on torque production and electromyographic (EMG) activity. SUBJECTS. One hundred seven women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Three groups trained with isometric contractions three times per week at a knee flexion angle of 30, 60, or 90 degrees. The fourth group, which served as a control, did not exercise. METHODS. Isometric torque was measured using a dynamometer, and EMG activity was measured using a multichannel EMG system. Measurements were obtained during maximal isometric contraction of the quadriceps femoris muscles at 15-degree increments from 15 to 105 degrees of knee flexion. Measurements were taken before and after 8 weeks of training. RESULTS. Following isometric exercise, increased torque and EMG activity occurred not only at the angle at which subjects exercised, but also at angles in the range of motion at which exercise did occur. Further analyses indicated that exercising in the lengthened position for the quadriceps femoris muscles (90 degrees of knee flexion) produced increased torque across all angles measured and appeared to be the more effective position for transferring strength and EMG activity to adjacent angles following isometric training as compared with the shorter positions of the muscle (30 degrees and 60 degrees of knee flexion). CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION. These findings suggest that an efficient method for increasing isometric knee extension torque and EMG activity throughout the entire range of motion is to exercise with the quadriceps femoris muscles in the lengthened position.

PMID: 8316579 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] This suggests that isometrics done at the greatest joint angle will, in fact, increase strength throughout the entire range of motion.

Thanks.I'll give them a try.

Jazz Hands
May 11th, 2011, 09:28 PM
Here is my problem,too many years of doing stupid stuff has left me with lumbar disc problems.If I try to lift very much with like dead lifts or overhead presses my left leg goes numb.I can do pulley exercises and stability ball exercises fine.I want to increase my leg strength,which for a breaststroker is vital,but I seem to be stuck with using the machines for leg presses and leg curls.Any suggestions.

Have you tried lunges? I specifically chose that lift for my intro workouts because of the lessened lower back stress. There are a lot of single-leg variations on lower body exercises to try: split squats, step ups, single-leg deadlifts.

Leg press and leg curls are good exercises, although I would worry with that combo that you aren't really using the glutes, which are an important muscle. In swimming you need strong glutes for a powerful start and push-off.

Lump
May 11th, 2011, 09:35 PM
I highly suggest the Shake Weight.:applaud:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6wezQzKxAw&feature=player_embedded#at=77

That Guy
May 11th, 2011, 10:05 PM
I wish I had my own personal scientist to help me figure out the best way to time workouts and intensity. But I'm starting to get into a groove based on trial, error, and the schedule of my day job!

I think the bottom line is that it's going to take some time, perhaps a year or more to really see the results, but it's worth the effort in the meantime.

Keep a log. That's how I figured out the pattern of what sets up a great day for me. In my case, it's a 48 hour thing, but your experience may vary.

Bobinator
May 11th, 2011, 10:36 PM
Strength imbalances are common in swimmers and should not be reinforced.

A general strength building plan makes sense for masters swimmers because it can correct muscle imbalances, increase proprioception and maintain bone density. These are guaranteed benefits to go along with the more difficult to quantify strength to speed improvements.

Shahboz, your example workout is pretty unbalanced. Jazz's push+pull+squat plan is general, well founded strength training advice.

Now there's a statement that makes good sense to me!! :applaud:

Jimbosback
May 11th, 2011, 11:27 PM
They are fine. The workouts I wrote are made up of very effective multi-joint exercises that allow you to move a lot of weight with a lot of different muscles. Flies are a little bit more isolated, so they are something I would do in addition to the big lifts if you have time.

Thanks. Great thread.

Jimbosback
May 11th, 2011, 11:40 PM
That's a good point and quite true. I'm sure all of us have seen the body builder types enter the 50 free and do nothing more than pound the water for half a minute. Good form always wins over brawn. Not the other way around.

This brings up my toughest issue with trying to combine strength training with swimming. I have the 'gift' of easily building mass, whether I want to or not. It has taken me two years, six months of which I didn't touch any weights, to lean out a little and get flexible enough (though barely) to swim like I want to. When I hit weights hard, I thicken up quick. It doesn't matter much if I am doing 6 rep sets or 12-18. I am streamlined like a barge.

Does this doom my swimming progress?
I figure/hope a few seasons of trial and error will help me find a balance.

marksman
May 12th, 2011, 12:57 AM
That's a good point and quite true. I'm sure all of us have seen the body builder types enter the 50 free and do nothing more than pound the water for half a minute. Good form always wins over brawn. Not the other way around.

I think the value in this thread is really for swimmers who might want to implement various forms of strength training to enhance their current performance levels. The gym is something which all athletes can benefit from.

True, being stronger will still produce performance gains all other things being equal.

Speedo
May 12th, 2011, 10:25 AM
Great thread, Brian.

I just switched out some of the stuff I've been doing (mostly a muscle-isolating routine) for a few "whole body" movements you've recommended. I've been meaning to do this for a while but have been too lazy to research it.

Switched out:
- machine leg press for barbell lunges
- cable machine press (similar motion to bench, which I'm already doing) for standing barbell press

Thanks for the tips- they are well thought out.

shadowxvi
May 12th, 2011, 11:12 AM
Had a weights coach in college that was focused heavily into dumbell and barbell exercises for each workouts. The thing that I found interesting was he like combined movement weightlifting. For instance you when doing squats you would do the squat down movement but on the up motion you would continue the motion and raise up on toes simultaneously doing a shoulder press. So not only would you work normal squat muscles but also calves and shoulders. He had a ton of combined lift exercise where one would flow into another. Besides working more muscles at once it also helped develop muscle explosiveness (like in swimming the quicker you can get off the wall or blocks the more time you'll shave).

shadowxvi
May 12th, 2011, 11:15 AM
PS amazing thread. Especially enjoyed that article by swimmerb212. I know personally I get feel overwhelmed by all the information out there telling how if you don't do it this way your not going to be effective. I think it's nice to finally know that I need to just get to the gym and do a few basic things a few basic ways and i will see improvement.

androvski
May 12th, 2011, 11:49 AM
Great post! :)



If you bend over without bending much at the knees, squatting turns into a deadlift variation. Here's the sumo deadlift:
YouTube - How to Sumo Deadlift (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XynUSDVyd6Q)

The sumo squat is also a great variation of the traditional squat, especially for breaststrokers.

The Fortress
May 12th, 2011, 12:23 PM
Great post! :)


The sumo squat is also a great variation of the traditional squat, especially for breaststrokers.

Is this how you're supposed to put your hands? She has one hand over the bar and one hand under.

The Men's Journal article was pretty good. I chuckled over him describing the "sport-specific stability-ball superstar proudly squatting a grandma-level 40 pounds." A lot of the "core" work and "core" classes I see people doing in the gym look like a waste of time.

Jazz Hands
May 12th, 2011, 12:47 PM
Is this how you're supposed to put your hands? She has one hand over the bar and one hand under.

Yes. It keeps the bar from rolling out of your hands.

Jazz Hands
May 12th, 2011, 12:50 PM
Great post! :)


The sumo squat is also a great variation of the traditional squat, especially for breaststrokers.

This is true. I hadn't thought of it, but both sumo squat/deadlift and breaststroke require a lot of hip adductor strength.

qbrain
May 12th, 2011, 01:13 PM
I am reading the Men's Journal article and didn't like how they described the bar position for the back squat.

What is described in the article is considered riding high, the bar might actually be sitting on the spine, it isn't a comfortable position and if you squat using this position regularly, you will end up with a callus at the base of your neck.

Positioning the bar lower across the shoulder blades if more comfortable, more stable, the bar doesn't touch the spine and no calluses.

Here is a lovely picture I found comparing the two.

http://macgyver.users.daug.net/sports/squat_bar_position.jpg

ande
May 12th, 2011, 01:16 PM
This thread is an expansion of Ande's Swimming Faster Faster Tip 31: Get Strong. This is where I give advice on how to get stronger for the purpose of swimming faster.

Great thread! I'm honored that you mentioned SFF Tip 31: Get Strong

If I could only do one weight exercise to swim faster it would be:

Lat Press or Power Bands

next would be leg press or squats

next would be lat pull or pull ups

next triceps press & Dips

crunches & core work

If you're lifting to swim faster, you need to strengthen the muscles that apply power to the water when you swim. Some people are too muscular to maximize their swimming potential but most swimmers aren't. They are too weak and could greatly benefit by gaining strength & some size.

some might find this link helpful:
Bodybuilding.com - Weight Training For Sprint Swimmers! by Jason Lezak (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jasonlezak1.htm)

It's also SUPER important to SWIM & KICK really fast in practice. (SDK & Flutter)
do Short FAST FIERCE stuff with lots of rest
12.5's, 15's, 25's, & 50's

At 2008 Nats in Austin Rich Abrahams told me
"Two of the biggest mistakes many swimmers make in training are:
1) They swim too fast when they should be swimming slow and
2) too slow when they should be swimming fast."

also
anything you do and measure improves.
If you get measurably stronger in key exercises you're very likely to swim faster. Also if you hold on to more strength as you age, you're likely to stay faster longer.

What's most detrimental to getting stronger?
Distance training and aerobic sets, they break you down.

Jazz Hands
May 12th, 2011, 01:24 PM
I am reading the Men's Journal article and didn't like how they described the bar position for the back squat.

What is described in the article is considered riding high, the bar might actually be sitting on the spine, it isn't a comfortable position and if you squat using this position regularly, you will end up with a callus at the base of your neck.

Positioning the bar lower across the shoulder blades if more comfortable, more stable, the bar doesn't touch the spine and no calluses.

Here is a lovely picture I found comparing the two.

http://macgyver.users.daug.net/sports/squat_bar_position.jpg

Huh, that looks so much different from what I do. How does it change the feeling of the weight through the legs? Is balance better or worse?

qbrain
May 12th, 2011, 01:45 PM
Huh, that looks so much different from what I do. How does it change the feeling of the weight through the legs? Is balance better or worse?

The leg feel is the same, the balance is improved and max weight should improve. I have not tested the last as I don't own enough weight.

ElaineK
May 12th, 2011, 02:00 PM
What's most detrimental to getting stronger?
Distance training and aerobic sets, they break you down.

So, what would be some sample sets (for my level :blush: ) that would help make me stronger and better aerobically conditioned for an optimally split 200 breaststroke race? What would be helpful is seeing an example of an "aerobic set", then see how you would adjust it to fit this goal. Thanks! :)
P.S. And, how is it best to train when the goal is to get stronger and faster in all three breaststroke races; especially since the 200 is a different animal than the 50?

SwimKat
May 12th, 2011, 06:08 PM
some might find this link helpful:
Bodybuilding.com - Weight Training For Sprint Swimmers! by Jason Lezak (http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jasonlezak1.htm)


Great article. I like his plan for tapering down the weights too. Thanks for sharing!

funkyfish
May 12th, 2011, 06:48 PM
Glad to see this thread. Probably will have some folks agree, some disagree, and some interested in trying different stuff. Here's a few more :2cents: for what it's worth:

Squatting: I've found that resting the bar lower on the upper back (just below the base of the neck?) helps with better stability. The fear is that the bar will roll down, but if you've got a good hold on it that shouldn't be a problem. As mentioned earlier, don't round your back forward, you'll be asking for trouble.

Leg press: I've been doing these more often instead of squats as I rehab my shoulder. One thing I've noticed, for me it stresses the muscles at the front of my hips (can't remember the name). Seems to be doing ok, my vertical is still at 30-31".

Another fun exercise is overhead squats, provided you've got healthy shoulders. For me this seemed to stress my hips more. Seen many powerlifter types do this and they've got some impressive squat/deadlift numbers. Also, I did not mess up my shoulder doing this (I don't think :-)

Lately I've really been into jumping/plyo-type stuff. I want a vertical jump of 36-40," which would be respectable for a 5'-10" dude.

:banana::bliss::bouncing::cake:

__steve__
May 12th, 2011, 09:16 PM
Powerlifters usually rest the bar low like that, level with armpits, because it places them with better leverage.

You need alot of shoulder and back mass however to accomplish it. Compared to someone like myself who is too skinny and not that strong, and has to rest the bar over the shoulders.

I believe the avitar for FunkyFish describes the pwerlifting method

aquajock
May 12th, 2011, 09:50 PM
You need to keep your lower back extended (arched) at all times![/QUOTE]

aquajock
May 12th, 2011, 10:11 PM
You need to keep your lower back extended (arched) at all times

A longtime fitness professional (certified and practicing since 1988), I disagree with this statement. I actually think this is what you meant, but what is actually safest is to keep a neutral spine, keeping the abdominal and pelvic girdles engaged so that there is no strain on the back. Arching the back (hyperextension) compresses the vertebrae and may cause injury.

When people come to me wanting to know what exercises they should do, the following are some things I consider:

1) objectives - in the case of most of you, you want to improve swimming performance. So choose exercises that will improve the strength, stability, range-of-motion and function of major muscle groups and joints of importance.

2) injury prevention exercises aimed toward preferred activity(ies) As a swimmer, I spend lots of time stabilizing my shoulder girdle with rotator cuff work (mostly with resistance bands), deltoid work and pectoral stretches. I also emphasize muscle balance (for example chest and back/ internal/external rotators) - if you have poor posture, you will be predisposed to shoulder injuries because the slump will create a space problem in the shoulder girdle. If you sit in front of a computer for a long time, stretch the pectorals before you swim as to maximize space for shoulder movement.

2) limitations and prior injuries. If you have certain issues, you will be best off if you avoid exercise that may exacerbate your problems. Dead lifts (low back), overhead presses (shoulder) and bench press (nternal rotators) are exercises that often cause injury of the area I have in parentheses (in the case of the bench press, it is usually injurious because it is done incorrectly; people tend to lower elbows too much, tearing internal rotators).

I personally do none of the above exercises. My strength training program consists of squats, lunges, pushups, skull crushers, band rotator cuff activities, low and high rows, posterior deltoid raise, planks and bicycles. I also do a lot of balance and flexibility work (I love foam rollers, stability balls and BOSUs).

I'm also a big advocate of the K.I.S.S. principle - it is sometimes fun to try out the latest crazy exercise you see in a fitness magazine, but what is most important is to do it safely and correctly!

The Fortress
May 12th, 2011, 11:15 PM
Another fun exercise is overhead squats, provided you've got healthy shoulders. For me this seemed to stress my hips more. Seen many powerlifter types do this and they've got some impressive squat/deadlift numbers.

Lately I've really been into jumping/plyo-type stuff.



+1

Jazz Hands
May 13th, 2011, 08:30 AM
A longtime fitness professional (certified and practicing since 1988), I disagree with this statement. I actually think this is what you meant, but what is actually safest is to keep a neutral spine, keeping the abdominal and pelvic girdles engaged so that there is no strain on the back. Arching the back (hyperextension) compresses the vertebrae and may cause injury.

When people come to me wanting to know what exercises they should do, the following are some things I consider:

1) objectives - in the case of most of you, you want to improve swimming performance. So choose exercises that will improve the strength, stability, range-of-motion and function of major muscle groups and joints of importance.

2) injury prevention exercises aimed toward preferred activity(ies) As a swimmer, I spend lots of time stabilizing my shoulder girdle with rotator cuff work (mostly with resistance bands), deltoid work and pectoral stretches. I also emphasize muscle balance (for example chest and back/ internal/external rotators) - if you have poor posture, you will be predisposed to shoulder injuries because the slump will create a space problem in the shoulder girdle. If you sit in front of a computer for a long time, stretch the pectorals before you swim as to maximize space for shoulder movement.

2) limitations and prior injuries. If you have certain issues, you will be best off if you avoid exercise that may exacerbate your problems. Dead lifts (low back), overhead presses (shoulder) and bench press (nternal rotators) are exercises that often cause injury of the area I have in parentheses (in the case of the bench press, it is usually injurious because it is done incorrectly; people tend to lower elbows too much, tearing internal rotators).

I personally do none of the above exercises. My strength training program consists of squats, lunges, pushups, skull crushers, band rotator cuff activities, low and high rows, posterior deltoid raise, planks and bicycles. I also do a lot of balance and flexibility work (I love foam rollers, stability balls and BOSUs).

I'm also a big advocate of the K.I.S.S. principle - it is sometimes fun to try out the latest crazy exercise you see in a fitness magazine, but what is most important is to do it safely and correctly!

Very good information. Thanks!

Regarding neutral versus hyperextended spine, I'm thinking more about focus and cues when lifting. Most people who are new to lifting bend over by bending their lower back. This tendency is even stronger with added weight. If you say "arch", they bend over more at the hip, which is safer. It's the same basic cue as "chest up." True, if you stand up and try to point your chest upward, you hyperextend. But bending over and holding a weight, your back just goes flat.

Also, I might be wrong on this, but neutral spine is a technical term, and doesn't it mean the lower back has a little arch? I made a correction to "slightly arched".

qbrain
May 13th, 2011, 10:05 AM
Powerlifters usually rest the bar low like that, level with armpits, because it places them with better leverage.

You need alot of shoulder and back mass however to accomplish it. Compared to someone like myself who is too skinny and not that strong, and has to rest the bar over the shoulders.

I believe the avitar for FunkyFish describes the pwerlifting method

Steve, A lot of back mass isn't actually needed. I find the high bar position more intuitive and it took me a long time to figure out the low bar position on my own. Of course it would have taken about 5 minutes to learn if I had someone I trusted showing me how.

Power lifters hold the bar absolutely as deep as they can get it for the reason you point out, but for our purposes carrying the bar across the shoulder blades instead of the shoulders is good enough.

For the record, I am built like That Guy's avatar, and FunkyFish's avatar is him.

I recommend everyone get someone knowledgeable to show them proper lifting technique, but they are kinda hard to identify.

aquajock
May 13th, 2011, 10:39 AM
Very good information. Thanks!

Regarding neutral versus hyperextended spine, I'm thinking more about focus and cues when lifting. Most people who are new to lifting bend over by bending their lower back. This tendency is even stronger with added weight. If you say "arch", they bend over more at the hip, which is safer. It's the same basic cue as "chest up." True, if you stand up and try to point your chest upward, you hyperextend. But bending over and holding a weight, your back just goes flat.

Also, I might be wrong on this, but neutral spine is a technical term, and doesn't it mean the lower back has a little arch? I made a correction to "slightly arched".

I usually use cues like "pull belly button into spine" or "long spine" to keep people from slouching forward or arching their backs. When doing free weights, the core absolutely should be under control during the activity for back safety. I see a lot of men in the gym doing bicep curls (with more weight than they can handle) where every rep they yank the weights up and tip backward and arch their backs. A good way to secure the back on the overhead press is to sit on a bench or ball. This takes the stress off of the back right.

A neutral spine is what's natural (people should have a natural inward curve in the lumbar area an outward curve in the thoracic and another inward in the cervical). However, people with weak core muscles tend to adopt a "lordotic" stance (with too much arching in the lumbar region) and are prone to lower back injuries during weight training. Strengthening abdominals and hamstring muscles can help correct this postural anomaly.

Thrashing Slug
May 13th, 2011, 12:14 PM
Great thread. This has inspired me to integrate dead lifts and squats into my lifting routine. The thing I've always hated about squats is the discomfort of having the bar rubbing on my shoulders and spine. The lower bar position looks promising, and I plan to try it next time I lift.

Jazz, I'm curious what your injury history is, if any, and how it relates to weights. Ever been injured by lifting, and if so what mistake caused it? Ever used weights to rehab an injury in another sport?

I'm also interested to know what percentage of your training time is weights vs. swimming, and whether you do any periodization.

swimmerb212
May 13th, 2011, 01:18 PM
P.S. And, how is it best to train when the goal is to get stronger and faster in all three breaststroke races; especially since the 200 is a different animal than the 50?

Elaine, you should swim breaststroke to get better at breaststroke. Practice it at race pace. Getting stronger will help you swim at race pace more often.

RE: the squat discussion. Per the recommendation of a teammate who used to powerlift, she suggested doing squats using the Smith Machine until I feel comfortable with my positioning and flexibility.

Wikipedia article on Smith Machine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_machine

So far I'm finding that to be a big help, I still struggle to do that 5th set of 5 at 110 pounds, but I don't feel like I'm breaking my shoulders. There's one at the corner of the gym which I like because I can see mirrors to the front and to the side to check my form.

aquajock
May 13th, 2011, 03:07 PM
Great thread. This has inspired me to integrate dead lifts and squats into my lifting routine. The thing I've always hated about squats is the discomfort of having the bar rubbing on my shoulders and spine.

The Smith machine usually has a rubber bad you can put around the bar so it doesn't dig into your neck and shoulders. I also sometimes just lay on my back and do the squats with the bottom of my feet pressing up against the bar.

Speedo
May 13th, 2011, 11:15 PM
Are there any full-body pull movements one can do in the weight room? It seems like the full-body stuff is limited to push-oriented movements (e.g squats). The theory posted here is "strength translates to swimming" but I would think that something in a pulling movement would be as beneficial, or even more so (for strokes other than breaststroke).

qbrain
May 14th, 2011, 08:39 AM
Are there any full-body pull movements one can do in the weight room?

Deadlifts

Herb
May 14th, 2011, 12:54 PM
Lately I've really been into jumping/plyo-type stuff. I want a vertical jump of 36-40," which would be respectable for a 5'-10" dude.


If you had that kind of vertical jump you would be in the range of elite NBA players and doing 360 dunks and jumping over cars.

qbrain
May 14th, 2011, 04:13 PM
This might be of interest to those following this thread. Eric Cressey explains the Absolute Strength Absolute Speed continumum as it pertains to baseball players and this might hel people see how strength training fits in with their swim training.

He also discusses joint hyper mobility of pitchers toward the end of the video and that commentary is probably of interest to every swimmer with hyper mobile shoulders.

YouTube - The Absolute Strength to Absolute Speed Continuum

Rich Abrahams
May 15th, 2011, 04:13 PM
This might be of interest to those following this thread. Eric Cressey explains the Absolute Strength Absolute Speed continumum as it pertains to baseball players and this might hel people see how strength training fits in with their swim training.

He also discusses joint hyper mobility of pitchers toward the end of the video and that commentary is probably of interest to every swimmer with hyper mobile shoulders.

YouTube - The Absolute Strength to Absolute Speed Continuum (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0ge2TYDllw)

Michael, Thanks for the video link. I found it extremely thought provoking. I realize that almost all of my dryland resistance stuff is on the right hand side of the spectrum (concentrating on the nervous system and explosiveness) and maybe I need to rethink some of the pure strength stuff and do more periodization. My shoulders won't let me do bench press, so I'm not sure what upper body stuff counts as pure strength. Slow pull-ups perhaps or heavy bent over row. It's the pushing part where my body doesn't want to cooperate and I'm just stuck with lots of pushups and some tricep stuff where my upper arms remain stable.

Jazz, would you consider bulgarian split squats with the olympic bar overhead a strength exercise or just some trendy "functional" exercise? I do love that lower/full body exercise and don't want to add too much more weight overhead.
I also like deadlifts, but usually do them with moderate weight (50 lb.)dumbells between my legs so you can go extra deep. I'm not near max weight, but they sure trash my lower body for the next few days. Any suggestions for upper body push exercises that don't kill the shoulders?

Rich

Jazz Hands
May 15th, 2011, 05:35 PM
Michael, Thanks for the video link. I found it extremely thought provoking. I realize that almost all of my dryland resistance stuff is on the right hand side of the spectrum (concentrating on the nervous system and explosiveness) and maybe I need to rethink some of the pure strength stuff and do more periodization. My shoulders won't let me do bench press, so I'm not sure what upper body stuff counts as pure strength. Slow pull-ups perhaps or heavy bent over row. It's the pushing part where my body doesn't want to cooperate and I'm just stuck with lots of pushups and some tricep stuff where my upper arms remain stable.

Jazz, would you consider bulgarian split squats with the olympic bar overhead a strength exercise or just some trendy "functional" exercise? I do love that lower/full body exercise and don't want to add too much more weight overhead.
I also like deadlifts, but usually do them with moderate weight (50 lb.)dumbells between my legs so you can go extra deep. I'm not near max weight, but they sure trash my lower body for the next few days. Any suggestions for upper body push exercises that don't kill the shoulders?

Rich

Rich, thanks for your thoughts.

From personal experience, I now know that heavy pushing is not actually necessary at all. It's a great way to build strength, but some people can't do it, and there are alternatives. I took a very long break from pushing because of some nagging elbow pain and then a shoulder catastrophe last winter. I don't think I particularly lacked strength anywhere after that experience (maybe triceps), although I'm glad to get back to my presses.

With that in mind, I have a few recommendations for you re upper body strength:

1. Body weight pull-ups
2. Overhead barbell press, light weight and high reps
3. External rotation and scapular retraction

Pull-ups are just fantastic in every way for swimmers. Something I do sometimes is to choose a target total number of pull-ups, and do however many sets it takes to get there, stopping the sets well short of failure. For example, I might want to do 60 total in half an hour. A good strategy for me would be 12 sets of 5 every couple of minutes, since my max is 15-18.

I recommend overhead barbell press because you are already doing overhead lifting, with 45 pounds if I'm not mistaken? That would be a great weight to start with, or maybe even lighter, for sets of 15-20. I've seen OH press referred to as a shoulder killer, but it's been pretty good to my shoulders. Some other posters in this thread seem to have the same experience. My theory is it's a swimmer thing: OH press is pretty much the opposite of a swimming stroke, so it builds muscles that are perhaps neglected in the pool.

And of course, external rotation and scapular retraction are so important. I think you knew that already. For this, I like all kinds of rows, and the rear deltoid machine. I always do a few sets of dumbbell external shoulder rotation in my upper body workouts.

Overhead split squats are pretty hardcore :) Anything with a single-leg emphasis does not need much added weight to be close to the pure strength end of that spectrum. Lunges are also good: barbell or dumbbell. About overhead weight, I'll say just that I did overhead squats for a while, and eventually found them impractical for leg strength once I got better balance and coordination of the skill, because the weight that it was safe for me to hoist overhead wasn't really challenging to squat.

Also, Rich, I'm sure a lot of people who love to see what dryland stuff you do for speed and explosiveness. That stuff goes well with strength training, so I think this is the thread for it.

qbrain
May 15th, 2011, 05:39 PM
Thanks Rich, glad you enjoyed the video.


I'm not sure what upper body stuff counts as pure strength.

If the continumum was magnified a little more, absolute strength would have power lifting at one end and body weight exercises at the other. You probably hit across the entire spectrum of the absolute strength/speed continumum focusing on the absolute speed end.

After watching the video, my mapping of swimming onto the continumum looked something like this.

Strength training <-> plyometrics/medicine balls/stretch cords <-> paddles/fins/toys <-> swimming

For me, strength training is lifting but I am not going to tell a guy who shovels rocks, chops wood and pushes trucks out of the mud that strength training can only be done with a barbell. There are lots of ways to strength train, but some are easy to quantify and others are nearly impossible to quantify.

You've said in the past that you are tired and expect to be a little sore the day after your gym workout. As long as you feel your chest, shoulders and triceps are included in the soreness, you succeeded at the push aspect of things. If those muscles are just exhausted, you are further to the right on the continumum.

ElaineK
May 15th, 2011, 05:42 PM
Also, Rich, I'm sure a lot of people who love to see what dryland stuff you do for speed and explosiveness. That stuff goes well with strength training, so I think this is the thread for it.

Thanks, Jazz; I know I would! :applaud: Rich?

rtodd
May 15th, 2011, 08:07 PM
Rich said:

My shoulders won't let me do bench press, so I'm not sure what upper body stuff counts as pure strength. Slow pull-ups perhaps or heavy bent over row. It's the pushing part where my body doesn't want to cooperate and I'm just stuck with lots of pushups and some tricep stuff where my upper arms remain stable.



Rich,

I too can't push heavy any more. When I was 40 yrs old and running I benched 300 lbs without a problem. This was done with doing alot of low rep high weight sets. Now almost seven years into my swimming career I can no longer bench. Perhaps 135 lbs with a long warm up. Seems useless. It's not like my muscles don't have the power, I just feel shoulder pain. I really miss benching.

To me you can't really target pure power without going heavy with low reps but for me the next best thing is reps. I'll do 95 lbs to failure. At least I am targeting chest without the risk of injury. Just back the weight down until the shoulder pain goes away and then bang out reps.

ALM
August 30th, 2011, 09:31 PM
From The New York Times:
"Are Crunches Worth the Effort?"
By Gretchen Reynolds
August 17, 2011

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/are-crunches-worth-the-effort/

qbrain
August 31st, 2011, 10:16 AM
From the NYT article:


But in another study, this time of novice adult runners who displayed weak core strength in preliminary testing, those who completed six weeks of core training drills lowered their five-kilometer run times significantly more than a control group of beginning runners who did not focus on their midsections.

The previous paragraphs (in the article) explain how collegiate rowers, when they added core work to their training, did not show any improvement in rowing tests. Go poke a collegiate rower in the stomach, then go poke your average masters swimmer. Most masters swimmers are going to be closer to the novice runners group and will benefit from core work.

My opinion is that swimming does not provide enough "core work" and more needs to be done out of the pool. Outside of the pool there are lots of activities that would develop the core: crunches, hanging knee raises, rowing, squats, medicine ball exercises, planks, lower body plyometics. These (and many other) activities force core engagement, that swimming doesn't seem to require.

arthur
August 31st, 2011, 10:56 AM
A recent study showed that strength training can significantly improve muscle efficiency for older athletes:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/fitness/running/expert-advice/can-weight-training-help-endurance-athletes-last-longer/article2127948/

pwb
August 31st, 2011, 11:02 AM
A recent study showed that strength training can significantly improve muscle efficiency for older athletes:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/fitness/running/expert-advice/can-weight-training-help-endurance-athletes-last-longer/article2127948/Nice article and good support.

I look at these various articles, though, and wonder why these scientists are choosing such short periods (e.g., a few weeks to maybe a few months) to test these effects? Why aren't they following athletes for at least a year or, at a minimum, over some 'season' of training?

Chris Stevenson
August 31st, 2011, 11:08 AM
The previous paragraphs (in the article) explain how collegiate rowers, when they added core work to their training, did not show any improvement in rowing tests. Go poke a collegiate rower in the stomach, then go poke your average masters swimmer. Most masters swimmers are going to be closer to the novice runners group and will benefit from core work.

My opinion is that swimming does not provide enough "core work" and more needs to be done out of the pool. Outside of the pool there are lots of activities that would develop the core: crunches, hanging knee raises, rowing, squats, medicine ball exercises, planks, lower body plyometics. These (and many other) activities force core engagement, that swimming doesn't seem to require.

I disagree that masters swimmers are closer to novice runners than collegiate rowers. But if you are saying that swimming doesn't require the core much (another statement with which I disagree), then how would doing core work benefit swimming?

One can argue that the principle of specificity is relevant here. Swimmers who train hard, with plenty of race-pace training, train their core as much as they need to do well in races. The question of how much swimming engages the core is irrelevant, in that case.

Would "over" training the core help? Advocates of weight lifting would say that additional stress on the muscles beyond normal swimming produces additional power that can be used in a swimming race, especially sprints. I am not at all sure that additional core training would do the same.

As an aside: I never, ever finish a race and immediately think that I was limited by inadequate core strength. ("My abs just gave out on that last stretch!" or "I couldn't get my legs over on the last turn!") Others may be different, of course.

But maybe additional core training leads to overall better fitness and health, in which case the question of whether or not swimming provides adequate core engagement is quite important.

pendaluft
August 31st, 2011, 11:30 AM
I look at these various articles, though, and wonder why these scientists are choosing such short periods (e.g., a few weeks to maybe a few months) to test these effects? Why aren't they following athletes for at least a year or, at a minimum, over some 'season' of training?

Frankly, because its much easier to finish and publish something even if it's not that useful or definitive -- you get to add it to your list on your CV faster. That's also a big reason why the sample sizes are so small (that and funding issues, of course).

gaash
August 31st, 2011, 12:08 PM
Strength training improves "just about everything" related to muscles in all athletes. This is pretty well established common knowledge and supported by numerous research not that anyone who has ever gone to the gym needs research to know that this is true. The real question as it relates to swimming is at what point are the benefits asymptotic (i.e. diminishing returns) and for distance swimmers at what point is the oxygen requirements of extra muscle mass detrimental.

__steve__
August 31st, 2011, 12:13 PM
From the NYT article:



The previous paragraphs (in the article) explain how collegiate rowers, when they added core work to their training, did not show any improvement in rowing tests. Go poke a collegiate rower in the stomach, then go poke your average masters swimmer. Most masters swimmers are going to be closer to the novice runners group and will benefit from core work.

My opinion is that swimming does not provide enough "core work" and more needs to be done out of the pool. Outside of the pool there are lots of activities that would develop the core: crunches, hanging knee raises, rowing, squats, medicine ball exercises, planks, lower body plyometics. These (and many other) activities force core engagement, that swimming doesn't seem to require.
I agree that collegiate rowers are already core powerful, and would not benefit from certain "core" specific extracurricular activities when compared to a runner or masters swimmer.

I wonder if certain studies might be reported in a misleading way.

qbrain
August 31st, 2011, 03:56 PM
I disagree that masters swimmers are closer to novice runners than collegiate rowers. But if you are saying that swimming doesn't require the core much (another statement with which I disagree), then how would doing core work benefit swimming?

Wow, I must have done a horrible job explaining myself.

Masters swimmers, a group that includes fewer Olympians setting age group world records than recreational swimmers, have an underdeveloped cores. An underdeveloped core is a core that if strengthened further would benefit someone with increased stability.



One can argue that the principle of specificity is relevant here. Swimmers who train hard, with plenty of race-pace training, train their core as much as they need to do well in races. The question of how much swimming engages the core is irrelevant, in that case.

This is probably true, but my Masters team does not train that way.


Would "over" training the core help?

No, and I think the study on the rowers vs novice runners exemplifies this.


Advocates of weight lifting would say that additional stress on the muscles beyond normal swimming produces additional power that can be used in a swimming race, especially sprints. I am not at all sure that additional core training would do the same.

We are in agreement on this. If core strength provides stabilization in swimming, once stability is achieved, what is the benefit on increasing core strength?


As an aside: I never, ever finish a race and immediately think that I was limited by inadequate core strength. ("My abs just gave out on that last stretch!" or "I couldn't get my legs over on the last turn!") Others may be different, of course.

As an aside: I never, ever think of an Olympian when I think of masters swimmers as a whole, but think of someone who doesn't compete, doesn't do drylands, probably does open turns and swims with a team for the combination of organized cardio and friendship.


But maybe additional core training leads to overall better fitness and health, in which case the question of whether or not swimming provides adequate core engagement is quite important.

Pick something heavy up off the ground and the core is engaged, but swimming down the pool does not have the same requirement (wagging legs?).

Swimming does not require adequate core engagement and supplementing swimming with outside activities that do might be the easier path to core stability. Hopefully that clearly summarizes my point.

I also think that core stability is much more important in daily life than swimming. A strong core prevents several causes a back pain as well as hernias.

Celestial
September 1st, 2011, 05:25 PM
As an aside: I never, ever think of an Olympian when I think of masters swimmers as a whole, but think of someone who doesn't compete, doesn't do drylands, probably does open turns and swims with a team for the combination of organized cardio and friendship.


Oh my gosh is this ever a depressing thought. When I was at Nationals 3 weeks ago, that is not what I associated with masters swimmers! Although I have to admit that perhaps that is what the majority of "masters swimmers" are & why they are there, but I would bet that at least those of us on the Forum do compete, do flip turns & at least feel guilty if we don't do dry lands. I have to agree with those who say the core is important in the other areas of our lives though. And doesn't the core help with your fly & flip turns, if nothing else? Also, I noticed that my abs were extremely sore after my first meet - so we must use them on our dives, as well! :)

aquageek
September 1st, 2011, 05:35 PM
Oh my gosh is this ever a depressing thought. When I was at Nationals 3 weeks ago, that is not what I associated with masters swimmers! Although I have to admit that perhaps that is what the majority of "masters swimmers" are & why they are there, but I would bet that at least those of us on the Forum do complete, do flip turns & at least feel guilty if we don't do dry lands. I have to agree with those who say the core is important in the other areas of our lives though. And doesn't the core help with your fly & flip turns, if nothing else? Also, I noticed that my abs were extremely sore after my first meet - so we must use them on our dives, as well! :)

Truly agree. Q needs to visit a few other teams to change his views.

qbrain
September 1st, 2011, 06:56 PM
Oh my gosh is this ever a depressing thought.

I have no idea why it is a depressing thought? USMS is an organization of swimmers and there is a broad spectrum of skill levels. It depresses you that there are people interested enough in swimming to get up at 4:30am to swim sans flip turns? They cheer me up.

Maybe the average USMS member does flip turns, I have no idea. I was making fun of Chris pure and simple. But maybe the average USMS member is an Olympian still training and competing at the top of his age group and I owe Chris an apology.

Allen Stark
September 1st, 2011, 07:00 PM
Re: core exercises,I agree regular crunches probably don't contribute much,but I have found stability ball type exercises quite helpful both for strength but also for body awareness.I had had a problems on push offs with being a little sway backed which I have been better able to avoid since the stability ball work.
Also the quoted experiment with the cadaver pigs to show crunches were bad for your back seems to me to have limited or no predictive value for humans since we would be actively bending instead of passively bending which would totally alter the effects since the muscles around the back(core muscles) would be involved.I will say ,unequivocally ,that cadaver pigs should avoid crunches.:bolt:

qbrain
September 1st, 2011, 07:09 PM
I have found stability ball type exercises quite helpful both for strength but also for body awareness.

Anything special or are you just doing ab exercises on the stability ball?

funkyfish
September 1st, 2011, 07:44 PM
I will say ,unequivocally ,that cadaver pigs should avoid crunches.:bolt:
I feel inclined to agree with you on this one. Besides, it's probably an issue of too little too late.

Chris Stevenson
September 1st, 2011, 09:09 PM
It is probably pointless to represent "a typical masters swimmers" by any one type. I suspect the type Qbrain describes -- open turns, legs dangling, never competes, never generates lactic acid in practice (he could have just said "triathlete") -- is perhaps just as much an outlier as ex-collegiate swimmers.

(The triathlete thing was a joke, please don't beat up on me.)

A sizeable minority of USMS members compete; I think the number is routinely underestimated. (For example, one of the candidates (http://www.usms.org/admin/election11/content/michael_moore_11) for the office of USMS President stated the number is 20%.) If you go here:

http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/

you'll see an informative table (kudos to Jim M). In 2010 there were about 16,000 unique members who competed in a meet that appears in our national results database; there were about 55,000 members (http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_num_of_members_2pages.pdf) of USMS in that year, so we KNOW at least 29% of members competed in one or more meets.

But this is a minimum because that 16,000 figure omits (a) meets not included in the results database and (b) open water competitions. IMO the latter, especially, would add quite a few "unique" swimmers to the pool. Registration in Virginia jumps significantly once OW season starts, for example.

I wouldn't be surprised if 35-40% of our membership competes in at least one meet or OW race per year. That squares with my estimates of participation rates in our LMSC and it's a pretty sizeable fraction of membership.

So does the "average" masters swimmer -- whatever that means -- engage the core enough while swimming to be "fit" (whatever that means)? I have no clue or strong opinion. I think that swimming is a good choice for a healthy lifestyle, but if fitness is your only goal I would certainly recommend at least one alternative form of dryland activity a couple times a week.

My father has back problems. I did once ask my physician (USMS past-president Jim Miller) what I should be doing to avoid those problems, and he said I'm already doing it by swimming.

pwb
September 1st, 2011, 11:36 PM
As an aside: I never, ever finish a race and immediately think that I was limited by inadequate core strength. ("My abs just gave out on that last stretch!" or "I couldn't get my legs over on the last turn!") Others may be different, of course.I almost ALWAYS get out of an 800/1000/1500/1650/OW events and absolutely think, "Damn! My core is killing me / gave out on me / I gotta get back to doing more core work." True story. Of course, maybe if I did repeats longer than a 300 or 400 more consistently before racing distance events, maybe that would help. But, the bottom-line is that the kind of swim training I'm doing doesn't seem to fully prepare my core for the kind of swim-racing I do.

jaadams1
September 2nd, 2011, 12:02 AM
I almost ALWAYS get out of an 800/1000/1500/1650/OW events and absolutely think, "Damn! My core is killing me / gave out on me / I gotta get back to doing more core work."

I almost ALWAYS get out of an 800/1000/1500/1650/event and my lats and triceps are killing me, not my abs. I can barely raise my arms above my head to streamline in the five to ten minutes after the race is over. But this tells me I busted my butt hardcore as well!

bcoomes
September 2nd, 2011, 12:29 AM
I almost ALWAYS get out of an 800/1000/1500/1650/event and my lats and triceps are killing me, not my abs. I can barely raise my arms above my head to streamline in the five to ten minutes after the race is over.
I almost ALWAYS get out of swimming an 800/1000/1500/1650/OW event, but when I do one in practice my lungs give out long before any muscle group does. One more thing for me to work on.

pwb
September 2nd, 2011, 08:39 AM
But this tells me I busted my butt hardcore as well!... or that you raced way harder than you prepared for!

jaadams1
September 2nd, 2011, 10:56 AM
... or that you raced way harder than you prepared for!

OK...that too! :D

I remember feeling like that in college after my 1650 at Nats, going 15:53. I was training 8-9000+ twice a day and Saturdays back then, so I should have been plenty prepared.

SealGirl
September 3rd, 2011, 11:09 AM
Anything special or are you just doing ab exercises on the stability ball?
Sorry,this is going to look confusing.This is Allen Stark.I was on my wife's computer and forgot to sign her out before I wrote the response.Since I am too lazy to type it again I am adding this preface.
Probably mostly the usual-alternate arm and leg raises,extended arm planks with feet on the ball,supine plank with feet on the ball,but also "supermans" with hips on the ball and feet on a bench(feet together or even one foot on the other) crunches on the ball with feet on a bench.I sometimes attempt an exercise I learned from Rich Abrahams where you get in arms extended plank position with feet on the ball and then try to walk with you hands 360 degrees around the ball.I say try because I don't remember ever making it all the way around.
It doesn't prove anything of course, but it does mean something that Rich does a lot of core work and you can't argue with his success.Also Dara Torres is famous for her core work.
One of the best core exercises is dolphin kick with fins.
I read one coach said that some of the advantages of having swimmers work on SDKs are that it improves streamlining and strengthens the core. YMMV

Allen Stark
September 3rd, 2011, 11:16 AM
Sorry,this is going to look confusing.This is Allen Stark.I was on my wife's computer and forgot to sign her out before I wrote the response.Since I am too lazy to type it again I am adding this preface.
Probably mostly the usual-alternate arm and leg raises,extended arm planks with feet on the ball,supine plank with feet on the ball,but also "supermans" with hips on the ball and feet on a bench(feet together or even one foot on the other) crunches on the ball with feet on a bench.I sometimes attempt an exercise I learned from Rich Abrahams where you get in arms extended plank position with feet on the ball and then try to walk with you hands 360 degrees around the ball.I say try because I don't remember ever making it all the way around.
It doesn't prove anything of course, but it does mean something that Rich does a lot of core work and you can't argue with his success.Also Dara Torres is famous for her core work.
One of the best core exercises is dolphin kick with fins.
I read one coach said that some of the advantages of having swimmers work on SDKs are that it improves streamlining and strengthens the core. YMMV

OK,I'm back to being me,this is my response.

That Guy
September 3rd, 2011, 02:58 PM
OK,I'm back to being me,this is my response.

This is my question.

Swimosaur
January 5th, 2012, 11:12 AM
It's a new year ... :bump:


I know this sounds arbitrary, but we have to start somewhere. Here are my can't-fail load and volume parameters for newbies:

1. Do a full body workout two or three days a week, involving one push, one pull, and one squat.
2. Do between 2 and 6 sets per exercise, excluding easy/warm-up sets.
3. Do between 5 and 15 reps per set.
4. Don't take less than a full minute of rest between sets.

Within that, knock yourself out. You'll eventually come to some kind of understanding of how you respond to different amounts of volume and load, and how much variety you want.

I have to re-engineer my schedule a bit this year, and it looks like I'll have the opportunity to include strength training twice a week. I've been doing lat pulldowns now & then, on a random schedule, for several months & like the effect, but nothing beyond that.

Last night I tried a few more machines, just for the heck of it. Currently I prefer machines. They are quick & easy to set up & I do not want to drop a barbell. Did 3 x 15 lat pulldowns (3 sets of 15 reps); 2 x 10 bench press; 2 x 10 "fly" (this isolates pectoralis; I am not sure what to call this machine); 2 x 10 dip; 1 x 10 quad extension; 1 x 15 squat; a few crunches. To avoid injury, I am not trying to lift too much weight at the outset.

I'm going to try to come up with a stable program over the next couple of weeks. On lifting nights I will have about an hour to complete whatever routine. I know how much swimming I can do in an hour. How much lifting is it reasonable to do in an hour?

__steve__
January 5th, 2012, 11:54 AM
I know how much swimming I can do in an hour. How much lifting is it reasonable to do in an hour?
For me lifting is different. 15 minutes (excluding warmup) 3 - 4 times a week is better than hour a day.

This is how I do it:

- Warm up entire body

- then do 12 - 30 rep (legs more reps) per exercise until complete failure

- do just one set per exercise, that's all that is really needed if you do it hard enough

- Go directly into the next exercise without any rest (5 - 15 seconds to vomit or shake off are permitted)

Typical workout: stationary barbell snatches, leg press, iso-lateral chest, iso-lateral back, seated shoulder press, leg curls, extensions, dips, pull downs, then I alternate between leg raises and plank for 2 sets, rest for 1 minute while loading down the leg press machine to do calf raises (calfs require alot of weight)

That's my 15 minute workout. In addition, once a week I do easy specialized lifts such as shoulder targeted stuff.

fmracing
January 5th, 2012, 12:20 PM
Last night I tried a few more machines, just for the heck of it. Currently I prefer machines. They are quick & easy to set up & I do not want to drop a barbell. Did 3 x 15 lat pulldowns (3 sets of 15 reps); 2 x 10 bench press; 2 x 10 "fly" (this isolates pectoralis; I am not sure what to call this machine); 2 x 10 dip; 1 x 10 quad extension; 1 x 15 squat; a few crunches. To avoid injury, I am not trying to lift too much weight at the outset ... How much lifting is it reasonable to do in an hour?

An hour is more than plenty of lift time for a swimmer imo. Don't neglect the small stabilizer muscles like those worked on external rotations. I do 4x20 each side with 5lbs on the adjustable cable machine for the rotations. I've even done them 4x35-50 with 2.5lbs resistance.

I never lift to supplement swimming, only to compliment it.

Typical 25-30 minute lift session for me

will always include:

close grip pulldowns 3-4x10
close grip seated rows 3-4x10
leg press/hip sled 3x12 (working explosiveness rather than heavy load)

rotated in once every 3-4 sessions:
external rotations
tricep pushdowns/pullovers
incline dumbell press
deltoid raises, front, sides, middle.
calf raises

For abs, the only excercise you need is hanging leg raises, and maybe something for obliques.

I don't do a ton of lifting but these all seem to be at the core of what I'm trying to improve strength on. The rest is done in the pool.