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ekw
February 20th, 2013, 12:43 PM
I am considering getting some personal training sessions this spring but I'm not sure what sort of training would be most beneficial. I've been working on improving my core strength and I think that helped. My focus events are distance freestyle and backstroke but I would like to improve my short-axis strokes.

I have pretty good uppper body strength already and don't want to bulk up. I can tell that my left knee is weaker than my right and my breaststroke kick is imbalanced. Ideally I would like to improve my SDKs and power off starts and walls. And, of course, I'd like to look better in my bathing suit. :D

Recommendations?

tigerchik
February 20th, 2013, 01:41 PM
what are sdks?

I would do stuff to work on rotator cuffs, glutes, calves, trapezoids/rhomboids

ekw
February 20th, 2013, 01:54 PM
what are sdks?

SDK = submerged dolphin kicks

I'm mostly interested in improving them for backstroke starts and turns to maximize my underwater distance.

Swimosaur
February 20th, 2013, 02:42 PM
Recommendations?

I think you are doing fabulously well on your own. There are not all that many people who can train themselves to a national top ten time in an endurance event. You are already a pretty fit customer.

What value added does a personal trainer bring to the party? If you know someone who is really, really good, who understands your athletic goals, and can cost effectively design a set of efficient and effective exercises to help you reach them, then maybe you can justify the cost. But pretenders are all-too-common in the personal trainer business, and you can easily wind up wasting your money. Caveat emptor.

Personal trainers who understand swimming are rare. If you can find someone knowledgeable and trustworthy, then maybe they can help. Personally, I'm skeptical.

habu987
February 20th, 2013, 02:42 PM
I can't speak for personal training, but I can give you some exercises to do on your own that will help out. Some will have a direct impact on your swimming, some will have an indirect impact (ie, general leg strengthening, etc), but all will benefit you in the long run.

Legs
Squats
Streamline squat jumps
Forward/backward lunges
Side lunges
Stair steps
Stair/box jumps
Jump rope
Crunches
Wall sits

Stretch Cords
Internal/external shoulder rotations
Tricep pulldowns
Lateral raises
Reverse woodchops
Chest flies
Butterfly pulls
Freestyle pulls
Breaststroke pulls
Right/left hip abductor
Right/left hip adductor

Medicine balls
Basketball squat jump throws (squat and then jump to throw the medicine ball like a free throw)
Chest passes - fast
Chest passes - hard
Overhead passes
Granny passes
Oblique handoffs
Crunches with medicine ball held overhead

Abs/core
Pushups
Flutter kicks
Leg holds (hold your straight legs 6" off the ground)
Leg lifts
Oblique crunches
Streamline crunches
Crunches
Dive bombers
Plank
Right/left plank
Bridge
Diamond pushups
Wide grip pushups

I started a dryland group on my team and we've been doing dryland three times a week for about a month now. We've been focusing a lot on the stretch cord, medicine ball, and leg exercises and I can really feel their impact. My focus events are backstroke and the IMs, and I can feel the difference in the water between now and a month ago. Can't speak for how it would impact distance freestylers, but it's sure helping me out!

sok454
February 20th, 2013, 02:58 PM
Man I wish more people who held top 10 times would be as motivated as you are! Maybe that will rub off on me!!!

My goal is after next weeks meet I'll start doing more dryland work! having said I am fairly strong upper body and back from presses and deadlifts. My legs are naturally more explosive than most from all the jumping I've done for track... but my cardio is where I really lack. As is my core.

Sojerz
February 20th, 2013, 04:28 PM
The book Swimmming Anatomy by Ian McLeod (Amazon or B&N) provides a good soource of basic information and exercises specific to muscles and strokes, and it would provide you with some background info before engaging a trainer and also allow you to "truth-test" the program and to be sure it's what you want- Knowledge is Power.
I agree with Swimosaur that it might be hard to find a personal trainer that knows swimming, can evaluate your needs, and set you on the right track, but not impossible. Probably not avaialble at the average gym, and perhaps you're more likely to find such a trainer in and around college swimming program and/or recommended by a college coach. I think using a trainer would be helpful in designing a program specific to your needs, tracking/testing response, checking dryland techniques, motivating you, and could eliminate trial and error. Might also prevent injury or over training. From what i've read, there really isn't one-size-fits-all training, as everybody responds differently- having someone that can adjust the program as you go along to your response would be pretty helpful, i think.

ekw
February 20th, 2013, 04:52 PM
I think you are doing fabulously well on your own. There are not all that many people who can train themselves to a national top ten time in an endurance event. You are already a pretty fit customer.

What value added does a personal trainer bring to the party? If you know someone who is really, really good, who understands your athletic goals, and can cost effectively design a set of efficient and effective exercises to help you reach them, then maybe you can justify the cost. But pretenders are all-too-common in the personal trainer business, and you can easily wind up wasting your money. Caveat emptor.

Personal trainers who understand swimming are rare. If you can find someone knowledgeable and trustworthy, then maybe they can help. Personally, I'm skeptical.


The book Swimmming Anatomy by Ian McLeod (Amazon or B&N) provides a good soource of basic information and exercises specific to muscles and strokes, and it would provide you with some background info before engaging a trainer and also allow you to "truth-test" the program and to be sure it's what you want- Knowledge is Power.

I agree with Swimosaur that it might be hard to find a personal trainer that knows swimming, can evaluate your needs, and set you on the right track, but not impossible. Probably not avaialble at the average gym, and perhaps you're more likely to find such a trainer in and around college swimming program and/or recommended by a college coach. I think using a trainer would be helpful in designing a program specific to your needs, tracking/testing response, checking dryland techniques, motivating you, and could eliminate trial and error. Might also prevent injury or over training. From what i've read, there really isn't one-size-fits-all training, as everybody responds differently- having someone that can adjust the program as you go along to your response would be pretty helpful, i think.

Preliminary top ten!

Good points, and something I had thought about a little bit. I actually just returned from a meeting over at the Rec and as I had a few extra minutes I talked to my friend who is the exercise physiologist there. She said that she doesn't know much about swimming and she didn't think offhand that any of the current trainers have much experience with it.

I didn't have to go any farther than the floor above my office to find that Swimming Anatomy book, so I'll take a look at that. Mostly my desire to have some training sessions is to make sure I'm not doing an exercise completely wrong.

ElaineK
February 20th, 2013, 05:08 PM
Good points, and something I had thought about a little bit. I actually just returned from a meeting over at the Rec and as I had a few extra minutes I talked to my friend who is the exercise physiologist there. She said that she doesn't know much about swimming and she didn't think offhand that any of the current trainers have much experience with it.


I am very fortunate to have found a physical therapist who happens to be a breaststroker on GAJA! I had my first appointment with her yesterday and she was quickly able to identify muscle imbalances and prescribe exercises to correct them. We're starting with my shoulders and will cover lower body next appointment. Hopefully, I will finally be able to do something with my right leg, so I don't keep injuring it swimming breaststroke!

I agree with Sojerz about Swimming Anatomy. It is an excellent book!

Good luck, ekw. And, congratulations on your preliminary Top Ten! :applaud:

mcnair
February 22nd, 2013, 11:59 AM
Just to echo some things already mentioned and add my two cents... if you hire a personal trainer, do make sure s/he is a swimmer or at least a triathlete; they'll have much better insight about your ultimate goals. I like Habu987's selection of exercises a lot. You mentioned maybe having a trainer watch to make sure you're doing the exercises properly. Sometimes it's tough to tell what the exercise is supposed to look like if you're just reading a description in a book. The Salo/Riewald book I picked up this X-mas ("Complete Conditioning for Swimming") came with a DVD with demonstrations of all the exercises.... that might help.

Kevin in MD
February 22nd, 2013, 12:49 PM
I am considering getting some personal training sessions this spring but I'm not sure what sort of training would be most beneficial. I've been working on improving my core strength and I think that helped. My focus events are distance freestyle and backstroke but I would like to improve my short-axis strokes.
Recommendations?

First, you should know that there are no studies showing improved distance swim performance with strength training you might do in a gym. There IS a study showing improved 50 meter swim performance with strength training http://www.lakeshoreswimclub.com/canlsc/UserFiles/File/Articles/EFFECTS%20OF%20DRY-LAND%20VS_%20RESISTED-%20AND.pdf

Importantly, in keeping with a theme that has played out over the past 6ish years or so, the exercises performed were heavy resistance, 3 sets of 6 at 80 to 90% of 1 repetition maximum. This accords well with the limited data from running and cycling that also show improved performance in experienced athletes but also using the same type of high resistance work.

This is in contrast to much previous work using the more generic 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps that is often used as a starting point. The preponderance of studies with trained athletes from the 80s was using more of the 2 sets of 10 type model and most of those showed no gains.

Unfortunately there are very few studies showing positive performance gains in swimming from strength training, and none that I have ever seen for distance swimming.

A GOOD, performance oriented trainer should know this. A wellness-oriented trainer might or might not.

So if you use a trainer, get one that the ATHLETES like and understand that while the strength training will have benefits for you all on its own, strength training is a good thing to do, improved swim performance may not be one of the benefits you see.

ekw
February 22nd, 2013, 01:12 PM
Thanks, everyone. Some great and very thoughtful advice.

My current thinking is that continuing to work my core and getting some exercises to work on my leg strength (as I can really feel a lack of it now on turns and breaststroke kick) would be a good place to start. I may end up just getting an equipment orientation at the gym rather than training sessions unless I can find a trainer who really knows swimmers.

mcnair
February 22nd, 2013, 10:24 PM
I think the best reason for doing any conditioning outside the pool is to avoid injury and stabilize your core and joints; it may not improve performance, but if it keeps you from sitting out half a season with a shoulder or knee injury then it's worth it.

ElaineK
February 23rd, 2013, 05:21 PM
I think the best reason for doing any conditioning outside the pool is to avoid injury and stabilize your core and joints; it may not improve performance, but if it keeps you from sitting out half a season with a shoulder or knee injury then it's worth it.

:agree: +1! And, may add "correct muscle imbalances" to your reason list? I went to a PT for the very reasons you stated. And, what I learned from my evaluation is that I have muscle imbalances that are probably the cause of my repetitive injuries.

I am already starting to see improvement, even though I have only been doing her prescribed exercises for less than a week. I can't wait to return on Thursday for my lower body evaluation, so I can get my breaststroke kick back up to speed (and strength)!