Swimming is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, power, endurance, and proper technique. In this blog post we will discuss 5 ways strength training will improve your freestyle swim speed and why you need to be getting stronger out of the pool to swim faster in it.
1: Increased Power and Explosiveness
The first primary benefit of strength training for freestyle swimming is the increased power and explosiveness that it unlocks. Incorporating swimming specific ‘push and pull’ exercises will help you ‘push and pull’ yourself through the water with increased strength. Strength is the foundation for power and explosiveness, so getting stronger will enable a more powerful and explosive ‘intent’ with every repetition in the gym and every stroke in the water. Applying strength in explosive plyometric exercises will further develop this as these exercises focus on explosive movements which mimic the explosive nature of swimming. Getting stronger and increasing your power output will translate into faster swim times.
2: Improved Technique and Body Position
The second significant benefit of strength training for freestyle swimming is improved technique and body position in the water – essential for faster freestyle swim times. By strengthening the muscles used in freestyle swimming, and by improving your posture and alignment through correct strength training, you will improve your body’s position in the water, reduce drag, and help to maintain proper body position throughout your swim. Developing upper body strength is obviously important, but a strong core and lower body are equally important for an effective kick and to enable the core to hold it all together and maintain a streamlined position.
3: Greater Endurance and Stamina
Strength training will improve your endurance and stamina in all sports including freestyle swimming. By incorporating exercises that develop strength in all the essential human movement patterns (squat, hinge, press, pull) you will improve your muscular endurance and delay fatigue during your swim. Developing full body strength through good ranges of motion will help you maintain proper body position and generate power during your swim for a longer period of time which will make you swim faster.
4: Reduced Risk of Injury
Freestyle swimming can be hard on your body, and the repetitive nature of swimming can lead to overuse injuries, especially in the shoulders. Strength training will help reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles and connective tissues used in swimming. Exercises like shoulder external rotations, band pull-aparts, and rotator cuff exercises will help prevent common swimming injuries like swimmer’s shoulder and rotator cuff tendinitis – all of which are incorporated in our swim strength training programs.
5: Improved Overall Swimming Fitness
In addition to improving your freestyle swim speed, strength training will also improve your overall swimming fitness. By combining fundamental compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, push ups and pull ups with swim specific strength, conditioning and mobility work is the key. You will improve your overall strength, endurance, and mobility which will translate into better performance in all aspects of swimming.
Developing your feel for the water by practicing swimming itself is obviously essential for improving your freestyle swim speed, but incorporating swim specific strength training will improve your performance in the water tenfold.
The key is the exercise selection, the programming and the way they are performed. For a free trial of our Swim Strength training program to help you understand how our swim specialist Daniel Grasso has designed our programs please click below.
Graham Barber, Founder @ ATHLETE.CO