Dryland workouts to swimmers can make them feel like fish out of water. Most blame their lack of coordination or inability to catch a ball on the fact that they are swimmers and therefore don’t need to be coordinated. In reality, supplementing swimming with dryland can be the best thing for these athletes. It gives them the ability to recover, develop body awareness, and strengthen muscle groups, all of which help prevent injury.
High school swim season is a time where you race in a lot of meets in a short amount of time. Much like any other sport, swimmers can get broken down toward the end of their season. To counteract this, we've gathered some dryland ideas to help your swimmers have the best season possible.
Implement Body Weight Into Your Routine
Body weight is a very helpful tool to swimmers while they are in season. It allows the athletes to learn and do the exercises correctly without making them too sore.
Having swimmers use their own body weight gives them a great workout especially when exercising the muscles that balance out the ones they use for hours in the pool.
A good exercise to help prevent shoulder injury is by activating the small muscles in your back and doing scapular pinches.
An injury prevention exercise for hips is bridges. By pressing your shoulders into the ground, curling your tailbone under, and lifting your hips, you are counterbalancing the muscles that can be favored in your freestyle kick.
Doing these exercises slowly and controlled will help the athletes have balanced muscles and less injuries, which is important when they race often.
If the swimmer is not getting enough out of the exercises they are doing with body weight, adding a little bit of weight or a resistance band can add that extra challenge.
Agility and Coordination
Since high school meets don’t have races longer than a 500 freestyle, working on your agility is a great way to develop sprint speed. By using ladders, small hurdles, and even some plyometric (jumping) work, you can improve your fast twitch muscles and coordination.
Agility ladders help you focus on footwork and forces the swimmers to concentrate on quick feet, a tight core, and fast arms to balance.
Short hurdles and plyometrics help the swimmers with their walls and dive, and gives them the spring they need to be powerful in those areas.
These exercises can be incorporated into the warm up of dryland or can be the main workout.
Stretch and Recover
Flexibility and muscle recovery are part of every athlete’s routine.
- Stretching and yoga can be implemented into the dryland routine to increase flexibility, help with balance, and make your athletes more aware of their bodies. While practicing yoga, you can assess how sore or tight certain muscles are and focus your energy into those areas.
- Utilizing a foam roll is also one of the best ways to roll out tight muscles to help the swimmer recover. If an area is hard to reach with a foam roller, a roller ball is perfect to use if you need to roll out knots in your shoulder blade or hips.
This part can be a special occasion type of dryland exercise, but it is a really good way keep the swimmers interested and social. Swimming can be a very individual sport but playing soccer or ultimate frisbee for a dryland workout can be really refreshing.
Play time can be implemented either in dryland or in the pool. As a former swimmer, I highly recommend the concept of play. It can be really easy to burn out when you are in the middle of the season and starting to get broken down from racing so much. It is important to remember that you come to practice every day to swim back and forth and chase a time because it can be a very fun and rewarding sport.
The main reason that swimmers should do dryland during high school season is to keep them healthy and ready to race. Dryland is only to supplement the swimmers and make them better athletes in the water. Rotating the type of dryland they do will keep it interesting and allow the swimmers to become well rounded in their sport. Keeping the workouts original and different is always a bonus and will make the energy high. You can also break down the dryland session with a little bit of everything:
Warm up with agility and coordination:
- Box jumps
- Jump rope
- Main set: body weight workout.
- Stability training/injury prevention.
- Ab work, squats, pull ups, etc.
- Cool down with stretching and rolling out.
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