6 Questions Regarding Weight Training For Teenage Swimmers

I would like to thanks Dr. G. John Miller to answer this kind of questions to swimmers about weight training and so many other aspect of dryland workouts even out of water. Here he gave an well comprehensive scientifically written about combining the weight training and swimming workout. Many of the teenagers swimmers are still learning in both of life such as their personal aspect and how to be an competitive athlete who can achieve their Olympic dream.

Weight training is another different aspect of fitness practice that are mostly done in gym. About more than three quarters of swimmers life are involved with the swimming pool and if they were given to do dryland workout, many swim coach will wanted swimmers to stay doing workout on the deck or even somewhere outside to do muscular training. Muscular training for swimmers help to build their muscle and body tone. Weight training only applies one to three times in a given week on their schedule.

Originally posted Feb. 4, 2015

Back to resistance training for teenage swimmers. Here are the most common questions regarding resistance training for teenage swimmers:

Is it safe? In all honesty, it often isn’t. This doesn’t mean it can’t be safe with proper guidance, progressions and supervision, but if a swim coach with no education in resistance training is teaching weightlifting to your growing child, I’d argue it isn’t safe. Just because you lift weights or did as a swimmer doesn’t make it safe. A proper program is safe, but must start with many basics and progress to weight training. Once again, when done properly with proper guidance, weight training scientifically is safe for all ages; however you must be able to perform proper body weight form correctly, master all body weight exercises first, then progress to weight training. Also, performing some type of lower-body loading (i.e. body weight training, weight training, jumping) during years of maturation is likely beneficial for preventing low bone mineral density (BMD) in the hips. This increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life. These formative years are a huge opportunity for bone growth and health! Too often, people are allowed to lift weights on a club team once they reach a certain age. It’s like magic, you turn 16, time to lift weights! This is similar to giving a kid a car without driving lessons at 16. Just because they are a certain age doesn’t make them competent and safe. I’ve worked with some young groups of kids who I’ve given resistance training (often bands, but sometimes weights), but only after they’ve mastered all body weight movements, demonstrated safe biomechanics, and needed further overload for improvement.

Does it help swimming? In all honesty, it hasn’t been scientifically proven. However, few things are scientifically proven in swimming or sport, as results are very individual. If you are looking for a detailed breakdown of all the resistance training in swimmers, read this piece. Just remember, many of these resistance training programs are dated and similar to the programs Gustafson, myself, and many others performed. Nonetheless, I believe dryland is beneficial for many things — swimming performance being one of them — but if you don’t, then don’t do it! A poorly-designed dryland program is likely more harmful and wasteful than not doing one (at least have them perform another sport or run around so they can develop BMD, see above).

If Not weight training, then what? A well-designed dryland program must be a unified and consistent program within an entire club. Many clubs have their coaches run their programs separate from one another, resulting in confused swimmers as they progress through programs. Ideally, a club should provide a progressive program from the time children enter the program to the time they leave. This well-planned program must start with the basics: dynamic warm-up, coordination, games, and biomechanics. Next, improving strength, power, and improving muscular imbalances are the next key areas. It should build on these principles, preventing muscular imbalances, while continually developing strength without creating habitual soreness. Once movement mastery with challenging body weight exercises in varying planes of motion occurs, then consider weight training.

Should we run for dryland? If you are looking to burn calories and cause fatigue, which is the goal of some groups/individuals on swim teams, then run. However, dryland is a practice, just like swimming. You should have a purpose and goal for everything in your dryland program, especially the elite athletes. This simple shift in mindset can help tremendously, as most swimmers don’t need more of a workout, they need a practice. Like renowned strength coach Pavel Tstatsouline says, “if you want a workout, run up a hill.”

Will I get too bulky? Weight lifting can certainly put on muscle. Some feel more mass can benefit certain swimmers by increasing their potential for force production and/or increase surface areas for grabbing water. Others feel it adds unwanted resistance in the water, resulting in drag. Luckily, there are methods for increasing strength with putting on muscle mass and without putting on muscle mass. If you are looking for the latter, performing low volume, high-intensity lifts, but not to failure. This routine can build power and strength without adding excess muscle mass. This type of training is also the most supported in the literature for improving maximal swimming velocity.

Will I get too stiff? One misconception about resistance training is the idea that resistance training reduces mobility. Resistance training can certainly cause soreness by causing muscular damage believed to result from the cross-bridging of actin and myosin, especially during the eccentric phase of a lift. This soreness will acutely limit motion and the sensation of “stiffness.” However, resistance training over a longer period appears not to reduce range of motion and more likely facilitates greater range of motion when combined with static stretching. Therefore, if you are worried about becoming stiff, start with light weights, have a low lifting volume, and start when stiffness is less vital (during the off-season, although a brief window for most). Then progress slowly, hopefully through a progressive approach set-up at your club from the age-group to the senior level.

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