There is no doubt that to improve one's performance in the pool. Whether it is powering through laps or perfecting flips off the diving board, you need to practice in the water. This is where an athlete can improve their skill, technique, and mastery.
While time in the pool is critical and must be balanced with strength and conditioning on land. Improving one's strength and core stability can provide a host of benefits to swimmers and divers. A simple yet effective land-based strength program can help improve power, boost performance, and reduce the water risk.
The following is a simple strength program that can be performed with minimal equipment and minimal time commitment. Aim to complete a land-based strength program at least three nonconsecutive days a week.
Jump rope for a warm-up, strengthen calf muscles, build a solid core, and improve endurance. Skip for 30-45 seconds, then rest 15-30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Build your endurance to where you can jump rope 3-5 minutes continuously.
Lateral lunges improve hip strength and range of motion. Perform 10-15 reps on each leg—complete 3 sets.
Banded Hip External Rotation
Banded hip external rotation. Tie or slide an exercise band just above the knees. Stand in an athletic stance (knees slightly bent, hip pushed slightly back and down). Pivot on the ball of the foot to rotate your knee outward against the band. Perform 10-15 reps on each leg—complete 3 sets.
Squat jumps will work on explosive power off of blocks or the diving board. Focus on smooth control, soft landings with your butt pushed back, and exploding up into a jump. Perform for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 rounds.
Push-ups to strengthen your lats and pecs, muscles which help propel you forward with strokes. Focus on good form with these - draw your shoulders down and back to feel the lats engage. Avoid rounding your shoulders. And your elbows should be about 30-45 degrees away from your body. Perform 10-15 reps—complete 3 sets.
Pull-ups to target lats and arms. The pull-up motion mimics your stroke in the water and can improve your pull as your glide through the water. You can install a doorway pull up bar for a reasonable cost and slowly work on building up your reps. Focus on keeping your shoulders pulled back and down, squeezing the shoulder blades at the top of the movement. Aim for three sets, completing 5-15 reps per set (increase reps over time as you become stronger).
Flutter kicks to strengthen core and mimic kicks in the water. Lay on your back, engage the core, and lift both legs roughly 6 inches off the ground. Focus on smooth, short kicks while keeping the knees locked. Perform for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 rounds.
Forearm planks to improve overall core stability. Perform for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 rounds.
A strength program does not mean hours in the gym. If kept simple, focused on form, and quality over quantity, you can easily fit in land-based strength training around your busy class, practice, and meet schedules. A stronger body means improved performance and promotes an overall healthy and long, athletic career in the pool.