Posts in swimming
Is my endurance training enough to build strength and muscle mass?

Triathletes have no shortage of aerobic exercise each week as they train for all 3 components of their sport, but often what they leave out is strength training.  Strength training has been shown to reduce injury risk and improve performance in swimming, cycling, and running.  The impact of this training is most noticeable in the athlete’s economy during each component of the event allowing them to sustain a higher power output, at a relatively lower level of aerobic capacity, compared to individuals who do not strength train.

In an older study authors examined the impact of strength training on muscle strength and muscle size among athletes who completed resistance training, running, or swimming for at least 10 years (Klitgaard et al. 1990).  The authors reported older athletes who completed resistance training had muscle cross section area and strength similar to younger sedentary individuals.  Surprisingly, the subjects who only competed running or swimming activities had similar muscle cross sectional area and strength to their sedentary peers.  The authors concluded that the regular performance of only endurance exercise was not able to prevent the loss of strength or muscle size associated with the aging process.

Endurance athletes are encouraged to perform regular strength training to slow the effects of aging and to improve their performance within their sports.  To learn more about how to incorporate strength training into your workouts contact a local Physical Therapist.



Strength Training's Impact on Swim Performance

In the last couple of weeks we have posted on the impact of strength training on endurance performance.  Studies have shown resistance training improves both running and cycling economy leading to faster times.  These studies add to our existing knowledge on the importance of endurance athletes balancing their endurance training with strength exercises.  The pool is no exception with swimmers demonstrating improved sprint times using strength training.  Swimming requires energy contributions from both the aerobic and anaerobic systems and athletes should aim to train their bodies consistent with these demands.  

A recent study examined the impact of 30 second training bouts targeting the major muscle groups involved in swimming.  Belfry and colleagues studies 16 male swimmers and divided them into 3 groups, two training groups and one control group (J Strength Cond Res. 2016).  One training group completed 20 repetitions of strength training exercises within a 30 second time period (consistent with a sprint performance).   The authors tried to exhaust the athlete at the end of the 20 reps, if more could be completed in 30 seconds the weight was increased.  A second training group selected a weight they could lift 80 times in a 2 minute span (similar to a mid distance event) with adjustments made similar to the first group.  Both training groups lifted 3 days a week for 6 weeks.  

The authors reported improved swim times for the 50 and 200 yard distances in the 30 second group, but the 2 minute training group only improved their 200 yard time.  This study adds to the existing literature on the value of strength training for swimmers.  For more information on how strength training can improve your swim performance contact your local Physical Therapist.