Welcome back to the Swim Strong Series. This is the second phase of a progressive dryland training sequence meant to build athleticism that compliments the demands of moving forward through the water efficiently and powerfully. Dryland training, at the pool and at home, is a valuable addition to any swimmer’s routine regardless of age or fitness level. Click here to read Phase I of the Swim Strong Series.
The goal of this series is to increase a swimmer’s range of motion while building strength and mobility. This fundamental movement pattern work aids in injury prevention, tightens connective tissue, and improves swim mechanics and strength. Each phase builds upon the previous phase. The early phases will focus on range of motion, mobility and stability, then progress into strength and resistance exercises.
Use the following Phase II exercise routine as your dynamic warm up before each swim, at home, or before other activities. Allow 3-5 minutes 3x/week. Feel free to alternate days while revisiting exercises from Phase I. If on the pool deck, use a kickboard as a cushion for your knees, ankles, and forearms when appropriate.
A dynamic warm up increases blood circulation and fires up muscles soon to be engaged in the water. Think, “RAMP Up!” before you start up. (RAMP = Range of motion, Activation, Muscle Pliability.)
Do not force movements in this routine and build repetitions and time in exercises gradually.
Why do it? Wall slides are a great drill to improve shoulder extension and lat activation.
How to do it well: Keeping the spine neutral, place the elbow, forearm and wrist on the wall with the elbow at shoulder height. Push the hands toward the ceiling, keeping the elbow and forearm in contact with the wall, while pulling the shoulder blades down as depicted by the green arrows. Complete 8-10 repetitions.
Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are rounding the spine, pulling the elbows away from the wall on extension, and shrugging the shoulders as depicted by the red arrows.
Why do it? The chest opener is a great way to activate the posterior deltoid and rhomboids (think upper back) while stretching the pecs.
How to do it well: In a half kneeling position and with a neutral spine, place the hands around the ears with the elbows out to the side. Pull the elbows back while squeezing the shoulder blades together and exhaling. Complete 6-8 repetitions.
Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are starting with the elbows too far forward with a rounded spine and head tilted forward, arching the back during the pull back motion, and pointing the toes on the rear foot.
Why do it? T-Spine Rotations are a great drill to provide mobility through the mid-back (thoracic spine).
How to do it well: In a half kneeling position, place the hands around the ears with the elbows out to the side (similar to the starting position of the chest openers). Take a deep breath in then exhale hard as you rotate over the front leg. Inhale and return to the starting position. Complete 6-8 repetitions.
Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are rounding the spine throughout the range of motion, not pulling the elbows back to engage the upper back, dropping the chin, and pointing the rear toes.
Why do it? The Ankle Mobs (or Ankle Mobility) drill is one of our favorites for developing ankle mobility and flexibility in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (calf muscles).
How to do it well: Starting in the half kneeling position with the spine in neutral and the front foot slightly behind the front knee, place the hands on top of the knee. Shift your weight forward as you press the knee past the front toes while keeping the front heel in contact with the floor. Return to starting position. Complete 10-12 repetitions.
Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are extending the spine, starting with the front foot too far forward, and allowing the front heel to lose contact with the floor.
Around the World
Why do it? The Around the World drill is a great movement to improve range of motion and flexibility of the rotator cuff.
How to do it well: Using a strap or a towel long enough to allow you to go through the range of motion, grab the end of the strap/towel with the palms facing down and the arms fully extended. Bring one arm overhead with the other out to the side to form a triangle. Bring both arms behind, then continue the motion to the other side. Repeat from the opposite side. Complete 4-6 repetitions.
Common mistakes: The most common mistakes are standing with the back extended (arched), using a strap or towel that is too short, and bending the elbows.