General Conditioning Routine For Swimmers

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    Admin Mediterra

    General Conditioning Routine For Swimmers

    You may first take a look at General Versus Specific Conditioning.

    We will divide your body into three sections for purposes of organizing conditioning.

    In order of priority as a distance swimmer:

    1. Spine
    2. Shoulders (upper body)
    3. Hips and Legs

    Your joints needs to be strong and ‘mobile-or-stable’ for general purposes as a human and these create the foundation for safer, stronger specialized (and extremely repetitive) movements of distance swimming.

    The goal behind this conditioning work is to just be generally strong and stable, using . It is not necessary to try to get stronger and stronger (doing more and more repetitions or increase the difficulty) after you reach a certain level of strength. You don’t need extra muscle weight and you don’t need extra stress on the joints. So, for the exercises described below, a progression toward a maximum will be recommended.

    And we will prescribe body-weight exercises so that you can do these just with your own body, no extra equipment required (other than a pad and foam roller).

    You need to be careful with these exercises. The objective is to become stronger and more stable in the joints to support your specific sport training. You are not trying to set records in these exercises! You want avoid causing additional harmful stress to the joints, so when you start be very conservative – if you are not feeling strong and capable in even just a few repetitions, start with just a few repetitions and give lots of rest between cycles. You may even alter the position of the exercise to reduce the body weight load on the joints until you can handle the full position with full body weight and do a few repeats correctly.


    Spine Maintenance

    You may watch this video (or this one) to see instructions for how to use a foam roller for rolling your upper (thoracic) spine region, improving mobility.

    As you explore each stretch in each position, move in and out of the stretch slowly. Move into the stretch and hold it just for a few seconds. You want to gently encourage any seemingly tight tissue to loosen up, but pushing too far or holding longer would actually urge that spot to tighten up in defensive reaction. So, move in and out continuously and gently.

    Some days all spots will feel loose, and some days you may run into more tight spots. You may reflect on what activities (or sleeping position) might have provoked tightness in your upper back.

    Simple Plank

    Watch this video for instructions on how to do the simple plank and side plank.

    To increase the intensity of these – to turn it into what we would call ‘hard plank’ – you may contract the muscles by pulling the elbow toward the toes on each exhale, without altering the straight body line at all – contract the muscles without tilting or bending the spine.

    Use diaphragmatic breathing. Exhale and inhale through nose slowly. Measure your time in position by counting breaths. Start with going for as many breath counts as you can, until the muscles really burn and you can barely hold it.

    Your goal is to eventually do this plank position continuously for 45 exhales. Until you can do that you may work with this interval progression, moving to the next one as you get stronger over weeks. 

    Simple Plank Progression

    • 3x 15 exhales
    • 2x 20 exhales
    • 1x 30 exhales
    • 1x 45 exhales

    Side Plank Progression

    • 3x 10 exhales, each side
    • 2x 15 exhales, each side
    • 1x 30 exhales each side

    Accordion Crunches

    You may watch this video to see how to perform the accordion crunches.

    • 5x crunches
    • 10x crunches
    • 20x crunches

    Bridge Exercise

    You may watch this video to see how to perform the bridge exercise. You may want to start with the version that has you lifting one vertebra at a time.

    • 5x lifts
    • 10x lifts
    • 20x lifts



    Shoulders, Hips and Legs

    You may watch this video to see instructions for how to do several of the exercises listed below…

    They are listed below with upper body exercises first and lower body second. As you compose a routine with these, you may alternate between upper and lower body to give one section a rest while working the other section.

    Horizontal Pushups

    Vertical Pushups (Pike Pushups)

    Or you may try the Push Backs variation.

    Horizontal Pullups (Inverted Row)

    Vertical Pullups

    Progression For Upper Body Exercises

    Start at the number of repeats you can handle and then over the weeks, progress toward the maximum as your strength increases.

    • 3x 4
    • 3x 6
    • 2x 8
    • 1x 12
    • 1x 16

    Full Squat

    Just sitting in squat position to explore where the body is loose and where it is tight or limited. Gently let it stretch out and relax.

    Add more benefit to the ankles by rocking side to side and in circles to encourage ankles to be stable through a wider range of motion.

    Frog Hips

    This will help open up the hip joint and reveal tight spots or limitations in mobility.

    Air Squats

    Lower to the point that you can hold a straight spine and good posture, without heels lifting off the floor.

    Progression For Squat

    • 1x 5
    • 1x 8
    • 1x 12
    • 1x 15


    You may view this video on how to do the lunges.

    Progression for Lunges

    • 3x 8 steps
    • 3x 12
    • 3x 15


    Routine Suggestions

    First, do your thoracic Roll exercises for about 5 to 8 minutes

    Then according to the time you have available, or according to what was assigned in your training plan you may do:

    • 1x Cycle 1
    • 1x Cycle 2
    • Cycle 1 and Cycle 2
    • Cycle 1, Cycle 2, Cycle 1
    • Cycle 1, Cycle 2, Cycle 1, Cycle 2

    In each cycle use the number of repeats according to your stage in the progression for that exercise.

    Cycle 1

    • Simple (or Hard) Plank
    • Horizontal Pushup
    • Full Squat
    • Horizontal Pullup (Inverted Row)
    • Lunge

    Cycle 2

    • Side (or Hard Side) Plank
    • Vertical Pushup (Pike Pushup)
    • Frog
    • Vertical Pullups
    • Air Squats




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