View Full Version : Strength Training for Fly

Swimmer Wannabe
April 8th, 2002, 12:42 PM
I need to increase my strength to improve my success in fly. I have strong legs and a pretty strong core (though no six-pack), but my upper body is comparatively very weak. (I'm female and am not blessed with a "swimmer's physique".) Are there certain exercises that will help me with fly specifically, or should I just follow a general upper-body routine?

April 8th, 2002, 04:53 PM
There are a handful of rotator cuff strengthening exercises that are useful for shoulder stabilization. I don't know them well, but there is a book, the seven exercises, or something like that. These are a good choice for safety during fly.

I'm not a flyer but a breastroker, and I've spent a bunch of time strengthening my pullout, which is not unlike fly. It ends up being a bunch of swimming "prime mover" muscles. Here is what I like, in order of preference of the exercise:

Dips (there is a machine that can assist you if you can't do your own bodyweight)
triceps pulldown, use rope handles.
bench press

Pullups, backs of hands towards you
pullups, palms towards you. Again, there is a machine that can assist on this exercise.
Lat pulldown machine, pull in front of face.

(NOT as important)
Bench press

I like 3-5 reps, 3-5 sets, heavy weights, but I have done anywhere from 100 reps to singles, so find your own niche. Just try to add more weight, or do more reps.

Butterfly really is a stroke that requires technique. I recommend doing 25s with good technique and good speed rather than longer sets. Say 20x25 on 30-1:00. This is what I did when training for the 400 IM.

There's been plenty of disagreement on this board and its previous incarnation about weight training/dryland training for swimming. I think triceps are about the world's cheapest muscle in terms of weight added vs. speed added for swimming. Weight training allows you to carry your own luggage, too, so it has side benefits.

Swim fast,

April 8th, 2002, 08:13 PM
7-Minute Rotator Cuff Solution - by Robinson & Horrigan

Matt S
April 8th, 2002, 10:24 PM

Do strength training if you like, but...

Technique rather than raw power makes fly much easier. The most useful skill for fly is the "short axis pulse." Basically, make your body undulate up and down like a roller coaster, so your shoulders are up when your hips are down, and vice versa. That way the undulation will get your shoulders out of the water on your recovery so you don't have to fight gravity, or at least that is the theory.

A much better description of this skill is an article by Emmett Hines--no one other than the previous poster. You can find it at his Club's web site, H2Ouston Swim, at http://www.h2oustonswims.org/frames/home.html. It the Article "Slip Slidin' Away."

One tip: you want to use fins to learn how to do the SAP. Eventually, you can learn how to do it with just your bare feet, but initially you will feel like you are not moving at all. Fins help you learn the correct motion, then you can do it more naturally without them.


April 9th, 2002, 01:44 PM
Matt is correct, having a pair of fins helps greatly. Also having a pair of short fins (Zoomers etc) can make the transition from fins to nekked pheet a smoother one.

Also check out the other fly-oriented article recently posted on my site "Vive Le Papillon".

Matt S
April 9th, 2002, 10:36 PM

Excellent article. One quick question: are the SAP's head-lead or hand-lead? I find that I feel much more natural, and go farther per stroke, with hand-lead SAP. It also seems to me that hand-lead will flow much better in the SAP/full-stroke-fly transitions.


April 10th, 2002, 05:48 AM
I find the following progression of drills to be roughly in order of complexity:

Head-Lead SAP
Hand-Lead SAP
Stoneskipper SAP
Hand-Lead SAP/Fly combos
Head-Lead SAP/Fly combos

Stoneskipper SAP is simply ...pulse, pulse, stroke, pulse, pulse, pulse, recovery, pulse, pulse, pulse, stroke, pulse, pulse...

While, in the early stages people seem to grok Head-lead SAP fastest, once we get to adding full stroke cycless they seem to do better from a hand-lead position but eventually can grok it from a head-lead position. The better they grok the Stoneskipper SAP the easier time they have with head-lead SAP/fly combo.

You SHOULD be able to travel further, faster in hand-lead SAP. Your body is longer. When you get really good at SAP you should be able to travel nearly a full body length with each pulse - the longer you make your swimming vessel the further you should be able to go.