Like weight training, swimming is a resistance-based activity: repeatedly pushing and pulling against the water builds both muscle and endurance. However, swimming should not substitute weight training but rather compliment it. After all, the hours put in at the pool will positively affect those invested in the gym (and vice versa).
The Benefits of Weight Training for Swimmers
Weight training can help you strengthen your core and all muscle groups used to propel your body through the water. That said, it’s important to focus most on technique and not load. Swimmers benefit most from an increased range of motion when they perform weight training with precision rather than brute force. Likewise, the emphasis on technique reinforces good fitness habits that can help you excel in your swim training.
By maintaining multiple fitness regimes, you can avoid fitness injuries too. Training repetitively puts stress on your muscles and joints—it can also lead to imbalances. The variety of movements between swimming and strength training gives your body a total body workout.
Example: Start and Turn
Your start-and-turn performance hinges greatly on the amount of force and power you can generate. Thus, weight lifting motions like back squats and jumps can help in this aspect of competitive swimming.
A study by Lyttle & Benjanuvatra supports this claim by correlating major weight lifting motions with improved reaction time and velocity when diving into the water and turning off the walls.
Shoulder strength training is also known to be widely beneficial in preventing and healing swimmer’s shoulder. As can be seen, there are myriad areas where weight training can aid your swimming, so consult a personal trainer or inquire with your swim coach which motions you should focus on for immediate results in the pool.