The Options and Benefits of Land Workouts for Swimmers

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The Options and Benefits of Land Workouts for Swimmers

It goes without saying that one must train in the pool if they want to improve at swimming, but what if that option is taken away?

COVID-19 closed many pools and limited swimmers’ opportunities to get in the water to train. Many resorted to land workouts to make sure they stayed in shape for swimming.

Now that things are returning to a state of normalcy in much of the U.S., people are able to return to the pool—but some are still incorporating land workouts into their training. Karen Kappler is a high school swimming coach for Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Virginia. Kappler integrates land workouts for her athletes to ensure that they are in top condition when they get in the pool.

“We would do hip hinge, squat, push and pull, and those are different areas that have different exercises that can target different athletes and where their weaknesses are—you can adjust them and adapt them at various levels,” Kappler said. “It’s cool how you can individualize. It’s not that big of a deal to adjust them in a group setting.”

Before this swimming season, Kappler became certified in Surge Strength and Conditioning. Kappler has used the training to help her athletes gain more mobility and flexibility, while also decreasing the number of injuries that occur. When it comes to land workouts, many think of cardiovascular training and strength training. Kappler, however, mentioned that stretching should be taken just as seriously.

“Mobility was a huge factor for a lot of swimmers because I was thinking a lot of times they are just goofing around, they are not getting the stroke, and they are not doing it right, but in actuality they couldn’t do it correctly because they didn’t have the shoulder mobility, or the hip mobility,” Kappler said. “And so we worked a lot on that with different swimmers and it made all the difference in the world.”

Still, land workouts should integrate forms of cardio and strength training.

When it comes to doing cardio out of the pool, most will think of running or jogging. These are excellent options, though hiking, cycling, and jumprope are good alternatives. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another form of cardio that can work wonders for one’s stamina.

As for strength training, it is generally split up into two categories: calisthenics and lifting weights.

Calisthenics does not generally incorporate weight outside of one’s own body mass. Calisthenics aids one’s flexibility, and mind-to-muscle coordination, as well as their strength. Lifting weights will not aid nearly as much in factors like flexibility, but one will be able to better isolate a specific muscle. Generally, weightlifting will provide more strength and size gains than calisthenics.

Kappler mentioned that the most important area of the body to target in strength training was the core, which has been linked to improving balance and stability. She noted that the purpose of strength training for her swimmers in high school was not necessarily to increase their size, but to give them the explosiveness and the strength they needed to race faster through the pool.

Here are some specific exercises that can be incorporated into one’s training:

  • Stretching: Dynamic stretching—dynamic stretching can significantly increase mobility and flexibility, and it helps to lessen the chances of injury. There are plenty of different routines that one can find online, which can provide real, meaningful benefit to them in and out of the pool.
  • Cardio: Hiking, running, and jogging will help one’s endurance, allowing them to go longer and harder each time they plunge into the pool. High intensity interval training can be used—there are various circuits that can be used to develop top class endurance.
  • Strength training: Since there’s a lot of different body parts, I’ve broken this section into smaller pieces
    • Abs/Core: Planks, situps, and exercises that put tension under the abs over time
    • Back: Hanging from a pullup bar (Intermediate/Advanced: Pullups, multiple grip types to increase lateral development)
    • Chest: Cable flys to increase strength and chest mobility, pushups
    • Legs: Squats, use spotters to watch depth for safety purposes
    • Arms: Tricep dips to increase strength

There are plenty more exercises I haven’t mentioned, and I encourage you to use books and the Internet to further your studies to find more exercises that you can plug in to best fit your training.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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