By: Dawn Hinz
What’s the weakest link for triathletes? … Most would say “Swimming”. Which is why Athletic Mentors encourages athletes to swim 3 times a week. But that isn’t always possible. Pools are not readily available. Plus if you work, travel or have children just finding the time to get to the pool is real work. Or perhaps your pool is closed for maintenance or… Let’s just cut to the chase; there’s a world wide pandemic forcing you to stay home for weeks on end.
Long ago we figured out how to bike and run from home, lots of indoor and outdoor options there. But how can you keep your swim fitness up without a pool? I admit that I have spent some time daydreaming about an endless pool. It always ends the same way; no money in the bank. So I return to reality where there really is a way to maintain your swim fitness and for only about $30 bucks of resistance bands.
I encourage you to purchase two types of bands. One small flat circle resistance band, about 20” around and one tubular resistance band with handles on the ends. You want light to moderate resistance as we’re building muscular endurance not bulk. With these two bands and some general strength work you can keep your swim muscles engaged and ready to go when the pools re-open or water is warm enough for open water swimming.
Perform the following workout at least 2 times a week or as much as every other day. You can add it on to an existing strength training workout or use it separately. Start with a brief warm up of jumping jacks or other dynamic move and lightly stretch your shoulders and arms. Then perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.
Shoulder Band 4-ways: Using the flat resistance band around your wrists you’re going to pull your arms apart a few inches and then bring them back to start in 4 positions. Use slow controlled motions. (I use this shoulder series to avoid “swimmer’s shoulder” even when I am hitting the pool.)
- Position 1: Elbows by your waist, hands straight out from your elbows, parallel to the floor.
- Position 2: Arms straight out in front parallel to the floor; roll your shoulders down and lock them into place.
- Position 3: Arms in front of your shoulders bending your lower arm up to the ceiling forming an “L” Position 4: Arms straight directly overhead. Swim Sets: Attach your tubular band with handles around a solid object; I use the leg of my treadmill. A door handle will also work; just make sure the band can’t slip off. You don’t want it hitting you.Catch: Bend over with a flat back hold your arms straight along your head as though they have just entered the water; hands holding on the handles. Have both arms simultaneously perform the “catch” of the swim. Pull your fingertips towards the floor while maintaining a high elbow. Return to start and repeat.
- Push: Bend over with a flat back and hold your arms in the catch position (Fingertips to floor and elbow high); hands holding the handles. Push your hands straight back to your thighs. Return to start and repeat.
- Push: Bend over with a flat back and hold your arms in the catch position (Fingertips to floor and elbow high); hands holding the handles.
- Push your hands straight back to your thighs. Return to start and repeat.
- Swim: Bend over with a flat back hold your arms straight along your head; hands holding the handles. Swim with alternating arms. Perform the Catch and the Push with one arm and then repeat on the other side.
In addition to these swim specific exercises be sure to include core work and lower body strength work such as planks and dryland flutter kicking. I’d also suggest finding a yoga video to focus on controlled breathing. This workout will keep your swimming muscles primed so you’re ready to dive back into swimming.
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