The pools being closed on-and-off over 2020 has made it pretty tricky to stay swim-ready during lockdown.
The Last Swim
I last swam the evening before the UK went into Lockdown 2.0. It was the last session of the day and as I left I waved and said goodbye to the pool. My friend laughed at me and a member of staff waved back.
It was empty, the water had already settled from the session before and sat like glass in the pool. The last lifeguard on duty was packing the ropes away. It looked peaceful. A sight I knew I’d miss for at least a month.
The truth is, I’d only just got back into the swing of things since the first lockdown and in the back of my mind the fear of starting again from square one in December was not a happy thought.
The Importance of a Good dry land Workout Programme
I snapped out of it, I’m a PT, I was a swimmer throughout my childhood and teenage years. We spent just as much time working on strength and mobility as we did in the water. I know all too well that dry land training is equally important and I’m sure many other swimmers will need a helping hand with exercising from home.
I had work to do!
Apart from being efficient in the water, swimmers require technical skill, strength, stability, endurance and mobility. We do not acquire all these traits from swimming alone. When properly applied, dry land training can improve performance as well as reduce risk of injury.
Working on our muscular strength will enable us to be more efficient, powerful swimmers.
A good dry land programme will include posterior chain exercises (think shoulders, back, glutes, hamstrings and calves). Building strength and balance in these muscle groups will help to protect us from commonly injured areas, including the shoulders and lower back.
It’s also important to maintain a streamlined position in the water and developing a strong core is crucial. We must also build strength in the legs to kick as well as support the core. To do this, we must be able to properly engage the core, glute and leg muscles to prevent the legs from sinking, which increases resistance in the water and creates drag.
Resistance and Flexibility Exercises to help you Stay Swim-Ready
Another way we can improve our performance in the pool is to incorporate plyometric or explosive movements. This type of training will help us to produce explosive starts and fast turns from the wall. Training plyometrics can also help with coordination and efficiency of powerful, explosive movements which is greatly beneficial if you’re a competitive swimmer.
As swimmers we also rely heavily on good mobility and flexibility, particularly in the ankles, calves, hamstrings, hips and shoulders. Focusing on stretching and improving mobility outside of the pool will help improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Stretching stimulates receptors in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones. Stretching reduces tension in the muscles, releases endorphins and helps to stimulate blood flow, giving us that “feel good” feeling. Something I’m sure we all really need right now!
Cardio Workouts to help you Stay Swim-Ready
As well as strength training and mobility from home, keeping up with the cardio is also something we should be doing. I’ve swapped my pull buoy for my push bike while the gyms are closed and running is a great option too.
So instead of worrying that we’re missing out on pool time, let’s focus on the things we CAN do to stay swim fit at home.
If you need a helping hand with some ideas for at home strength and mobility routines, I’ve created a series of helpful exercise videos that can be done from home with no equipment required to help you stay swim-ready.
And, if you really can’t wait to get back in the water (and you’re brave enough) you could always give cold or open water swimming a try.
The Everyone Member Shop
Everyone Active has opened its own online shop that’s packed with fantastic quality fitness equipment that’s perfect for helping you work out at home at incredible prices. Follow the link below to find out more.