Dryland Work for Swimming

Hi, I was hoping someone here would be able to help me with some advice on dryland work for swimming, some information:

5ft 10" or 175cm tall
67kg or 147.4lbs
12% - 13% BF

I swim mainly breastroke
50m: 34.9 LC, 34.5 SC or 33.6 SC Relay
100m: 1:17 LC (Haven’t done it for a while) or 1:14 SC
200m: 2:47 LC or approximately 2:43 SC

FS 50m: 26.7 SC
BK 50m: 30.4 SC
BF 50m: 29.8 SC

As we don’t have any real qualified gym coaches involved with the club, the program i’m doing is a fairly generic one, i would like to get some advice on exercises, and set/rep schemes. I’m doing flexibility work in my legs to make the kick more effective, as that is one of my main weaknesses, i’m mainly an upper body breastroker at the moment.

The Gym Program:

Day #1

Squats or High Step-Ups 2x6-8
DB Incline Bench 2x6-8
Weighted Chins 2x8-10
Chins 1x20
DB Flye 2x8-10
DB Pullovers 2x8-10
Tricep Dips 2x6-8
Side lying DB External Rotation 2x12-15
Side lying DB Rear Delt Raise 2x12-15
Hyperextensions 2x10-12
Decline Crunches 2x10-12

Day #2

BB Lunges 2x6-8
DB Flat Bench 2x6-8
BB Bent-Over Row 2x6-8
Dips 2x6-8
DB Flye 2x8-10
Chins 1x20
Side lying DB External Rotation 2x12-15
Side lying DB Rear Delt Raise 2x12-15
Prone/Supine Trunk Twists in Hyperextension bench 2x10-12

Usually i can only do 2 gym sessions in the week, though now i should be right to do 3, so i just rotate those two programs

I’m also looking at beginning Plyometric work to increase leg speed and provide some different work as i have found my leg speed to be lacking

At the moment, due to school commitments i can’t train much for swimming, however in about 8 weeks i’ll be back to 5 - 6 sessions a week, plus dryland work.

Current Schedule is:

Monday PM: Swim
Tuesday PM: Gym
Wednesday PM: Swim
Thursday PM: Gym
Friday PM: Swim
Saturday AM: Swim then Gym

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

As a swimmer, I’ve experimented with different things. I’ve found Olympic lifts very useful for butterfly - lower body explosiveness.

Regular powerlifting exercises have helped me a lot over the years - bench press, pull ups, deadlifts, etc. You have to determine what is right for you through trial and error. The use of external rotation exercises is excellent - definitely keep those up and it could help you maintain good shoulder health.

By the way, your breaststroke times are a bit funny. A 34.9 long course 50 meter breaststroke is great, but your short course 50 yard breast should be much faster than a 33 - 3 or 4 seconds faster. Sounds like you may have a speed issue, or maybe substandard turns.

For instance, my best long course 50 meter breaststroke is 36.9. My best short course meters 50 breaststroke is 34.0. My best short course yards 50 breaststroke is 30.7. I have a substandard breaststroke but really good turns, which shows in the SCM and SCY.

Sorry, all times are in meter lengths, SC & LC meters, i’m Australian, we don’t swim yards. All these times are set at various stages in the season, the 34.5 SC was during a phase where i was doing more distance work, where the 34.9 LC was during a more sprint based phase.

Any more replies as to more specifics such as the gym and plyometric programs would be greatly appreciated, thanks again.

I will try to talk to my brother’s fiance Helene Muller and get some ideas for you. She swam for S Africa and Univ of Nebraska. I know she told me before her national coach was always trying new stuff when she was training.

Swimming Fastest has a breakdown of what people did for the games…I like what Stanford and Texas do…

Thanks for the replys, if anyone else has mor to add that would be fantastic

Where in the book - what page - Clemson?

Ozza, I would think some Med Ball core and upper body work might be helpful. I have always found so in my swim coaching experience.
You might couple MedBall work with your weight sessions, as well as have a dedicated MB session,an option I prefer in most cases.

They have some stuff on haynes and her olympic lifts …popov…barrowman…and summer sanders…as for texas and stanford my own observations are enough.

About Heynes the book provides an interesting insight about her best performances as related with a descreased intensity ( just below anaerobic threshold ) of most of her “basic endurance” training,coupled with her usual power/speed and weights programs. Interesting for how this fits in the overall CFTS principles.

Clemson, would you expand a bit on your own observation about Stanford and Texas?

I am convinced that these two along with David Marsh’s Auburn swimming programs are the true peaks training wise in contemporary swimming world, and ,surprisingly enough ,and for the scarce information I may have, they all seem to move towards much more clearly distincted high/low intensities (power/general fitness) approaches…

let’s do it over the phone…I have wrist issues…sound good? email me your number and I will get a phone card for Italy.

In terms of resistance training for swimming, would rowing/pullup movements be emphasized as the most important movement, due to the Lats involvement in the pull of the stroke?

And according to Clemson, 30% of the race is the walls, thus a strong lower body is needed as well.

So, the core lifts, in order of importance might be:

  1. Row/pullup variation (includes working up to heavy RMs)
  2. Squat/Deadlift variation
  3. bench press

Does this sound right?

This would be likened to how in any land based sport, the squat/lower body compound lift takes precedence over the bench press, military press, pullups, etc. because the lower body includes the prime movers.

Anyone have any thoughts/comments on this? Or just basic resistance training principles for swimming in general?

anyone? pakewi? mikeh?

Think of strength as a GENERAL SKILL of the organism,and train accordingly.
Think of training in terms of the stimulus you are presenting to the athlete’s body.

Here then: yes the lats are important,but considering the degree of their involvement in swimming,and the above,one question come to my mind:do the lats really need specific stimulation,or they already get the necessary stimulus from the swimming itself and maybe a more general,more effective in terms of fiber recruitment,and relatively less specific upper body exercise like a pressing variation?
The issue is even more evident in case you include a lower body pulling exercise like the deadlift.

Just a thought to start out with.


Thanks for the reply.

How do you define “specific stimulation”? I’d consider all weights as general stimulation regardless of load. Pool work would be specific stimulation. So, I wasn’t implying doing plyometric pullups or anything like that. But why not go heavier than the norm in order to improve intramuscular coordination for the musculature important to swimming. Most people restrict pullup/rows to lighter loads than going heavy.

a few other things:

In Carl Valle’s Power Pools article, he states that hypertrophy should not be a problem due to the high mileage of pool work.

Does this imply that most weight work is heavy with less volume of assistance/prehab work per given muscle group?
If so, then maybe, (once general preparedness is reached to be able to handle heavy weights):
3 days a week (offseason)
M- (1) SE/ME BP (2) RE pullups or rows (3A) RE low back (3B) RE abs (3C) RE ext. rotators
W- (1) SE/ME squat (2A) SE/RE press (2B) RE pullups or rows (3A) RE low back (3B) RE abs (3C) RE ext. rotators
F- (1) SE/ME pullups (2) SE/RE hip extension or leg press (3A) RE low back (3B) RE abs (3C) RE ext. rotators

Look like a good setup?

Also, I doubt a swimmer gets enough specific stimulation for the pushoff from the walls from just doing sprints. So, stimulation from dryland training is needed. The walls don’t really require reactive ability so much as voluntary explosive strength I’d say.

So, do you restrict dryland explosive training to olympic lifts, implement throws, and DE squats? acceleration sprints???

Hey, you post statements (which seem like absolutes) then questions. This is a very strange way to do it. It is like you are being demonstative on certain things, then follow it up with questions.
This may not be the best way to get answers to your questions.

This is probably true. But I also don’t want to ask a billion questions at once and make a post into a novel either. So, in order to make things more brief and concise, I’m trying to build on principles that are more universally agreed upon (more absolute than not) or are more obvious.

And I try to use phrases such as “I’d say”, “I’d consider”, and “I doubt” for the topics that are more debateable (the less absolute). This would indicate I’ve taken a certain position on them.

However, you are right that I made an absolute when I didn’t use those phrases for “stimulation from dryland training is needed”, which might be one of the absolutes you were referring to. It just seems to me that this is almost a given, which is why I made it absolute. But maybe I should have said, “I think” or one of the other phrases to be more clear.

But regardless of whether its a commonly agreed upon idea or a debateable idea, I would think that if it is wrong or right, people will comment as such with their opinion.

Maybe Pakewi will come back, see my “stimulation from dryland training is needed”, and duly reply with, “YOU DUMB#SS WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??? DO THE WORLD A FAVOR AND NEVER SPAWN!”, or something of that nature…I eventually got over my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Lautigar telling me that when I messed up my coloring book, so I think I can handle it now…

I would welcome such a reprimand if I am wrong because I will then be more knowledgable and have no problem with hanging my head in shame for the required amount of time.

Thanks for the post though. Often, due to the form we are communicating in, certain things are misinterpreted and things are more difficult to understand. So it is vital we do all we can to be as specific and clear as possible.

I was not discussing loads or force-velocity characteristics at all.
Of primary importance,and to help structuring basic “specificity” curves:

Would you define swimming a pulling dominated activity or a pushing one?

Where the different swimming events and their components might be respectively positioned on the F/V curve?

And a couple of personal observations if I may:

I do not agree with the article cited in regard to the Hypertrophy concern at all,and for a number of reasons,and always acted accordingly.

I never talked of “olympic lifts, implement throws, and DE squats”,or"acceleration sprints"
,nor I use any of the above in my programs,hence it would not make great sense for me to comment a schedule full of these methodics which I do not know in their real world outcomes and implications!

CF.com…great learning tool always…baby’s steps in one’s communication skills!
Consider this Rupert! :smiley:

I don’t know anything about coaching swimming but I want to learn so I’m going to try and answer this.

Breast Stroke - legs (pushing), arms (pulling)
Crawl - legs (push pull, hip flexors, glutes), arms (mainly pull)
Backstroke - legs (push pull, hip flexors, glutes), arms (mainly pull)

Butterfly - legs (push pull, hip flexors, glutes, errector spinae), arms (mainly pull)

Where the different swimming events and their components might be respectively positioned on the F/V curve?
Now this is a question! I’m assuming the longer the stroke the more force and less velocity we are talking about.

Breaststroke legs - very long stroke - 2 legs
Craw legs - shorter stroke
Butterfly - medium length - 2 legs

Breaststroke arms - medium stroke but also medium time between strokes (rest time) - 2 arms at once.
Craw arms - some part of pulling muscles of the back always working (asymetrically) - shorter storke
Butterfly - medium length stroke but a longer time between strokes than breaststroke - 2 arms at once.

Then iI guess you have the total length of time of the event. Not so sure about when an event becomes a sprint on this one… Someone help me out?



Looking at this now I reckon that you want to be doing mainly pushing movements in the gym to get stimulation but not overwork the pulling muscles.

I also think that the legs don’t get used as much as the arms in most events so you could stimulate a lot via these. Perhaps plyometrics?