As swimmers look ahead to the new year of training and racing, they look for ways to take those experiences to the next level. The obvious place to start, and most commonly seen around the beginning of the new year, is by addressing how we fuel for performance. However, sometimes how well or what we eat isn’t enough. What then? Dryland training can be the answer for a lot of swimmers.
For a large population of swimmers, dryland training is still a foreign concept. For those that participate, there’s always room for improvement, whether it involves fine tuning form or revisiting the essentials. No matter what camp you fall into, consider these points when mapping out your next 12 months in AND out of the water:
1. Assess For Success
Before jumping into training after the holidays, it is always important to have an awareness of how well you move so that you can address any limitations that might restrict range of motion during exercise or increase risk of injury. For a lot of swimmers, the mid-back, shoulders and hips are all areas that commonly need a little bit more attention than others. Try to complete the following exercises to get an idea of what to get started on:
1.) Standing Wall Angel:
2.) Front Hip Matrix
3.) Floor Angel
Compare your movement to that demonstrated in each video. Do you feel restriction in reaching your arms overhead? Can you keep your balance easily? How about any tightness up and down the spine? These questions, and more, can and should be answered by participating in a movement evaluation and assessment. Luckily, at RITTER Sports Performance we have Strength and Conditioning experts that can perform this evaluation and assessment for you and help get you started. For more information on our strength training programs, [CLICK HERE].
2. Motion Is Lotion
After you have a better understanding of what you should be focusing on in order to improve any imbalances or mobility limitation, it’s time to move. Our bodies are designed to move in all different directions, yet over time, we start to sit more and move less. Because of this, it’s important that swimmers acknowledge they are participating in one of the most 3-dimensionally driven sports and should prepare their bodies to move effectively.
One might think that a yoga class or static stretching is the only answer. However, the weight room is a great environment to get the multiplanar exposure our joints need. For example, instead of just performing a set of “normal” scapular (or regular) push-ups, athletes can adjust hand positions to “feed” movement differently through the shoulder joint.
1.) Scapular Push-up Matrix
Training like this can help prevent injury from occurring at the joint by taking the neuromuscular “guesswork” out of the equation. Another example of adding a multiplanar twist to an exercise is–the lunge matrix.
2.) Lunge Matrix
Instead of just relying on a forward or backward lunge, swimmers can address a lot of mobility issues commonly found in the hips by applying directional tweaks to an already standard exercise.
3. Move Well & Move Often
You’ve identified movement goals and limitations and started to gain an understanding of how movement in the weight room can begin addressing those restrictions. Now, we are left with the why? Why should swimmers, athletes who need to be able to move fast in the water, train outside of the pool?
The simple answer: there are more opportunities in the gym that can help expose the muscles and joints to the right stimuli that help improve rate of growth.
At some point, we reach the limit to how long or how fast we can swim in any given practice time. When we consider all that can be manipulated in a controlled setting like a weight room (weight, tempo of movement, range and plane of motion), the opportunities to get better increase exponentially.