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Swimming & Strength Training


Swimming & Strength Training by Steve Preston

Swimming is a very unique sport to develop a proper strength training workout for. Swimming is one of the few sports that requires more upper body strength for maximum performance. In fact, swimming requires at least 80% of strength from the torso and arms. Strength train correctly for swimming, and watch your speed in the water take off! Here are some tips to help you create the perfect workout.

1. Determine The Body Parts To Emphasize
No matter which swimming stroke you compete in, the body parts to emphasize are the same. The body parts in order of importance, that you will need for swimming are the back, chest, shoulders, arms, abdominals, hips, thighs. When creating a sport specific plan, you will work on these body parts in this order. You still want to train the entire body, because our body’s work as a unit. Although you want to keep all of your body parts strong, try to keep this order when setting up your workout.

2. Select The Best Exercises For The Emphasized Body Parts
When selecting exercises for your swimming strength workout, you should find ones that you are comfortable with. Don’t try to perform exercises that “mimic” the movements required when you swim. You never want your strength training exercises to be “too similar” to the skills for your sport. Just find the 12 best exercises for the body parts above.

3. Organize The Exercises Into A Routine
Take the 12 best exercises and organize them into a workout routine. You can substitute exercises occasionally. Try to select 2 exercises for each body part.

4. Full Body Workouts
Now that you’ve organized your exercises into a routine, you need to perform these full body workouts. If you’re in the off-season, you can do this full body workout on 3 non-consecutive days per week. If you’re in-season, try to perform a workout every 4-5 days. This additional rest will help you recuperate from the combination of practices, workouts, and competitions. You might even get stronger by training this infrequently.

5. Keep It Progressive
No matter which exercises you’ve decided on, you must keep your workouts progressive. That means you should strive to add an additional repetition with the same weight in successive workouts or keep the number of repetitions the same, and add a little more weight. Try to do this as often as you can.

6. Minimize Momentum
When you’re swimming competitively you want to be fast in the water. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your strength training workouts need to be fast in order to make you faster in the water. Your strength training workouts should be slow and controlled. Always lower a weight twice as slowly as you lift it. This ensures that your form is perfect. Perfect form on your strength training exercises will carry over to improved performances in the water.

Copyright 2005 Steve Preston is a Sports Performance Specialist in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He specializes in sports-specific strength training programs to improve athletic performances. He is available for phone consultations, and clinics and can be reached through his website at He has recently created a DVD Strength Training Program For Swimmers. It can be viewed at
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