(contributing author to IBSC blog)
Swimmers get to take advantage of the freedom and exhilaration the water has to offer. However, not all workouts have to take place in the pool. Whether you're a competitive swimmer or just want to take your game to the next level, it's important to vary your training in order to make the most of what your body is capable of. Here are five out-of-water workouts and you should be sure to incorporate.
1. Turkish Get Up
As a swimmer, you must engage the shoulders in constant rotation. That's why it's important to encourage shoulder flexibility and stability. The Turkish get up is an exercise that allows you to achieve just that. It uses all the muscles in the body with a focus on the shoulder area.
Using a dumbbell, lie on your back with the dumbbell raised over your head. Using your free arm, lift yourself up until your legs and torso are at a 90 degree angle. Keeping the dumbbell lifted over your head, stand up. This exercise should be repeated ten times for each arm, and it can help you significantly in toning your upper arms while simultaneously working out other areas of the body crucial to swimming.
2. Kipping Pull Up
The kipping pull up resembles a full swimming stroke and can help you truly stand out during any swim. While most pull ups are focused on arm strength, this variation instead focuses on successive engagement of various muscle groups as you work to keeping your chin over the bar and body fully extended.
There are various versions of the kipping pull up including the butterfly kip which incorporates upward and downward kicks which resemble the butterfly stroke. Whichever version you choose during your next workout, they all require rhythmic coordination of all the muscle groups used including the torso and lower body. Misty Hyman, Olympic Gold medalist in the 200 meter butterfly at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, attributes much of her success to this beneficial exercise.
A great way to take the plank to a whole new level is to incorporate a rowing motion using dumbbells. Holding one in each hand, get into a plank position. In order to maintain balance and stability, keep the feet and knees hip-width apart. As you begin to shift your weight to the left arm, slowly lift the right dumbbell off the floor until it reaches your chest area in a rowing motion.
Form is important as you engage in this exercise. For starters, keep your buttocks as low to the ground as possible in order to engage the abdominal muscles. Furthermore, as you engage in the rowing motion, make sure your body doesn't rotate. Focus on keeping your chest pointed toward the floor.
4. Medicine Ball Pushup
One of the most overlooked accessories in the gym is the medicine ball, and you can use one to further strengthen your upper body and keep your workouts diverse. Using a solid medicine ball capable of supporting your body weight, place your right hand on it as you get into plank position. Do a pushup and then push the ball over to your left hand. Repeat with a pushup with the left hand, and repeat the cycle.
The plank position is more advanced. However, if you don't feel comfortable starting out in this position, try starting out with your legs bent as you use your knees to balance.
5. Circuit Training
A great way to keep things interesting at the gym is to perform circuit training geared toward focusing on all the major muscle groups used in swimming. A great regimen to follow that helps you do just that is as follows:
● 20 jump squats
● 10 lunge jumps
● 10 dive bomber pushups
● 20 squats
● 10 lunges with twists on each side of the body
● 20 front plank taps per side
● 20 side plank rotations per side
● 20 supermans
● 20 flutterkicks per side
Depending on your level of experience and time constraints, this routine should be repeated three to four times for a complete workout.
It's important to incorporate proper nutrition. After all, the fuel you use to operate your body dictates just how far you can push yourself. The benefits of creatine and other supplements are vast as they allow you to engage in dynamic workouts. Especially as you get older, creatine levels tend to decrease, and taking a supplement can help you build and maintain muscle mass. Other nutrition tips swimmers specifically can benefit from include:
● Eating simple carbs right before and after a workout
● Eating protein directly before a workout
● Keeping your carb to protein ratio post-workout 4:1
● Consuming ample amounts of vitamin D for strength and endurance
● Drinking plenty of water (at least 64 ounces per day)
Pushing Your Limits
As an athlete, you enjoy the freedom of pushing the limits when it comes to your capabilities. The body is surprisingly adaptable, and when you give it the nutrition and exercise it needs, there's more you can accomplish than you likely even realize. By following these five out-of-water workouts and tips, you can be on your way to raising the bar of your personal dreams and goals.