Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dry Land & Wet Land

Swim coaches know the value of dry land exercise. We all look for the routines and exercises that will help our athletes get stronger. The main goal of course is to build strength and stability while making those gains functional. To that end we also incorporate stretching and general flexibility making certain muscles are used in a full range of motion. Think of swimmers doing pull ups but only dropping down to the point where their arms are bent at 90 degrees as an example of limited range of motion. We want them to be strong throughout the entire length of the stroke so it is better to do fewer repetitions using your body weight or the same number of repetitions with free weights or machines using less resistance but going through the full range of motion of any particular exercise.

You can also incorporate your dry land routine into the pool creating another environment for training: wet land.

Wet land means several different things but basically it revolves around doing strenuous movements that are very nearly the same as swimming but with an increased load. These exercises come in as many different forms as your imagination can contrive.

A simple one is kicking with tennis shoes on. You then have the three forms of kicking; 1- with fins, 2- regular, 3 – with tennis shoes. Add some ankle weights if you want even more resistance. Put on a parachute and kick. If your program has money to burn buy some power towers and kick against that resistance…talk about a work load. If you don’t have money to burn buy a bungee cord, kick out until you hit the resistance point and then kick like you mean it seeing how long you can hang there before succumbing.

Sound a little challenging? Get rid of the kick board and use a metal folding chair. That not tough enough? Open the chair up and see what happens.

We swim with all these things as well as 1 & 2 pound hand weights. We read where Elizabeth Beissel’s club coach gave his stronger kids landscape bricks to hold while they were swimming…the ones with holes in them. We haven’t yet tried that one but you can tell the next step in the progression – swimming with bowling balls…just kidding, sort of…

You can do all these types of things with swimming and pulling. Stretch your imagination. 5 gallon buckets are cheap at Home Depot etc. Look around at what you have poolside then go for it. The kids will love the challenge of something new. They are competitive. Turn up the heat a little and watch what happens. Have pool records for some of this stuff and you’ll see some very high levels of output.

The idea is to take your dry land component and add a wet land factor to it. Or you can substitute wet for dry. So long as you are getting resistance to the muscle and maintaining range of motion it is hard to go wrong.

As always, be sensible. Start small and progress carefully. An injured athlete cannot train let alone race.

Any more ideas out there? Let us know and we will share. Thanks and have an awesome week in the pool!

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