Week 5: Strength Training For The Swim

Hey Y’all. Only 11 days til we will be in the midst of race day craziness. I cant believe the last month of training has flown by so quickly and to be honest I am getting pretty darn nervous. I’ve been excessively reading up on transition tips and how to not die after the swim leg, which I am convinced I will do.  As Tri Du nears I can’t help but compare it to my swimming past and the preparations I made for those big, important meets. Its pretty similar, right? I just have to bike 20k and run 5k after. No biggie.
This week, I’m going to talk about strength training for the swim because hopefully you are also supplementing all that swimming, biking and running with with some gym workouts – pliometric and weights. Resistance training, strength training, whatever you call it, its a necessary element for any successful training regime. Swimming requires total body strength and uses so many different muscle groups but some areas that I think are key as far as muscles are shoulders and explosiveness in the legs.


An awesome shoulder exercise for swimming is lat pull downs. This can be done using a weight machine in the gym (see below) and works on the shoulder muscles, lat muscles and additionally strengthens the lower back for optimal swimming power. Simply set the machine to the correct weight for you and take a seat facing inwards. Reach for the bar at the top, and pull down to chest level whilst looking straight ahead. This should be done in 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Do this 2 or 3 times a week, or just whenever you wind up at the gym and this will surely strengthen those shoulders and also getting you looking jacked, no jokes.
The second key element to a good swim is explosiveness in the legs. By this I mean good kicking and good, strong pushes off the wall at every turn. This can be achieved through practice and swimming itself but also through performing the right weight exercises and pliometric exercises. A great exercise for strong, super powerful legs is the burpee. Yes, the dreaded burpee. Although they suck while you’re doing them, they’re so good for your legs, arms and core. Below is a sweet diagram on how to do a burpee. First crouch down then jump your legs back into a push position (you can add a push-up here if you are inclined to do so, if not, no worries). Next return back to a crouched position by jumping your legs between your arms. Then, from this squat position jump vertically, as high as you can with your arms in the air. Be sure to really fire your legs and leap into the air with a lot of force. Repeat these 3 times (10 reps each) or until failure.
So, there are two great exercises that I have used since my swimming days to strengthen my shoulders and core and also optimize explosive and strong legs. Give them a shot at your next gym or strength training workout and see results come race day, trust me. Keep training hard and keep up with our twitter conversation using #TriHard.
Good Luck!

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