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Swimmers oſt en ask me which is bet er for building strength: bodyweight training or training with weights. In my

experience, there is a deal of confusion among swimmers about which approach is best. But before get ing into the pros and cons of each, we ought

fi rst to make sure we're clear about what we mean by strength training. This is any type of training that uses resistance to cause the muscles to contract against an opposing force. Such opposing forces can be your own bodyweight, water, an object or something you drag (a swimming parachute, for example). The aim of any kind of strength training is to progressively stress the body to cause it to adapt to a higher work load. This improves strength, which helps you move more quickly through the water, especially when allied to a sound swimming technique. Broadly speaking, strength training using your own body weight or against a resistance (e.g. stretch cords or using drag pants while swimming) tends to build strength without adding muscle bulk. Training with weights meanwhile is oſt en designed to improve strength by increasing muscle bulk. Is one approach bet er than the other? The simple answer is no, but they are diff erent. Yes, there will be times when swimmers ought to choose one over the other, but there are also occasions when their strength training regimen should incorporate elements of both approaches. Here, we will look at how and when you, as a swimmer, can use both forms of strength training to boost in-water performance.


BREAKDOWN AND REBUILD Before we get too deep into detail, there is some worth in explaining the science behind strength training. Essentially it is a rebuilding process; the extra strength it delivers comes through muscle tissue that is initially damaged by the training, but then rebuilt, stronger and – in the case of weights – bigger than before. The way to think of the diff erent forms of strength training is to view them as distinct tools in your bid to rebuild your body in a form that makes you faster and stronger in the water. If you limit yourself to just one of these tools, this process will not deliver the same degree of success in the water as the judicious use of both tools. Remember, the ultimate goal is to become faster as a swimmer.

BODYWEIGHT AND RESISTANCE TRAINING PROS A big advantage of bodyweight and resistance training is it can be carried out anywhere at any time with no or minimal equipment. This form of training also targets a large number of muscle groups, and can result in greater core strength and bet er stability. The abdominals, the glutes, and rotator cuff s are typical of the muscles that resistance training targets. Bodyweight exercises, which create resistance by using the body's own mass, help develop strength for performance, increase explosive power and endurance and remedy muscle imbalances for injury prevention. A good example of a bodyweight exercise is the wide-grip pull up, which is a great way to strengthen the back and arms. As with all resistance training, moving through a full range of motion delivers the maximum benefi ts. Another key advantage of bodyweight training is it gives you a

way to measure your power-to-weight ratio, which is important to swimming. 


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