Perfecting your swim capabilities can extend beyond the pool. Dryland exercises refer to exercise workouts which are performed outside of the pool to improve performance in the water. Dryland exercises are beneficial to improve overall athletic ability and muscular balance required for strong swimming. Moreover, dryland exercises are the foundation for stellar swimming performance and technique. The typical goals of dryland exercise are to improve strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and core muscles.
Many strength exercises for swimming require the use of weights; however, there are several common exercises which can be performed without the use of weights such as pushups and squats. Dryland coach, Mike Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S., recommends the sumo squat to improve lower body strength as well as the range of motion in the groin. Ten to 12 reps of this exercise should be performed twice per week. To perform this exercise squat back into a sitting position with the majority of the focus on your hips, similar to how you would sit in a chair. The squat position should be held for two seconds prior to standing up as the resistance of your body provides the force necessary to strengthen rather than the hold. The key to this exercise is to have your knees facing away from each other. Make sure your back and thighs form a 90-degree position.
Swimming requires strong lung capacity and controlled breathing; therefore, integrating a strong cardio regime into your dryland exercise routine will greatly improve your swimming. Swim coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference recommend running, jumping, rowing and stair climbing. The ACC recommends cardio to be performed daily for six weeks as part of a core routine. It is important to choose your cardio workout wisely: select an exercise which will be effective without causing injury. Choose your cardio workout based on your physical ability. If you are capable of higher impact exercises running, jumping and stadium stairs can be beneficial for you. If you desire a lower impact routine perform your cardio on an elliptical or stair climber. Additionally, rowing would be an appropriate alternative for those who chose lower impact exercise.
Flexibility is a key component of strong swimming, especially in kicking. Ankle flexibility is important for strong kicks and to prevent hooked feet which can cause resistance. Ankle stretches are a basic but vital exercise to add to your dryland routine. First, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Second, point your toes as far as they will stretch towards the floor and hold for two seconds. Third, flex your ankles and point your toes towards your body. Repeat these steps 10 times. Finally, make circles with your feet 10 times in each direction.
Core muscles are beneficial for swimming as they help position your body in the water and maintain a streamlined form. Additionally, strong core muscles help swimmers maintain balance. Try an exercise called the push up position bird dog to improve core function. To do this exercise, get into a push up position with your feet slightly wider apart than normal. Keep your core tight and a straight back. Simultaneously, lift one arm and the opposite leg straight out. Switch and do the other side. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps. Watch your lift to avoid arching your back.
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