SPECIAL NOTE: You can find out more about Tom Drum, and order his products, including the Back-It Ball and "Fraid Not" braided stretch cord at www.tomdrum.com.
Most swimmers need yardage to form a solid base, but endless laps in the pool can be boring, and can lead to burn-out, breakdown, and injury. Thatï¿½s where training on dry land comes to the rescue. And by ï¿½drylandï¿½ I donï¿½t mean just crunches and pushups. I mean INTENSE activity.
Why Do It:
Just a few minutes each day of land-based exercises can add a new dimension to your swimming ï¿½ and can give you an edge over competitors who donï¿½t use a dryland program. Increased flexibility, speed, and core strength are just a few of the benefits of dryland. A third, and not to be overlooked, is that it can increase training time when actual POOL time is at a premium
One sign of a great athlete is that he or she takes the initiative to become better conditioned than the competition. Itï¿½s as simple as the basketball player who stays after practice each day to shoot an extra 100 free throws to improve his game. Or the swimmer who runs a mile every day and comes in on her own to practice turns. Great athletes have a burning desire to improve, and they are self-igniters. Most great athletes incorporate some form of dryland into their training program.
How To Do It:
1. Take the best time of the event you are trying to improve and add 10 seconds to it. For example, if your best time in the 100 Free is 1:10, add 10 seconds to that for a total time of 1:20. Letï¿½s call this time period ï¿½T-time.ï¿½ The extra 10 seconds gives you a conditioning cushion for your all-out efforts in the water, and intense exercise on land usually bumps your maximum heart rate up approximately 10 beats per minute.
2. Choose 3 exercises from the following list. (For more conditioning exercises, visit Power-Systems or M-F Athletic/PerformBetter.) The combinations are endless, so you can have some fun in designing your own program.
ï¿½ Running — outside or on a treadmill
ï¿½ Jump rope — double-jumps are the Gold Standard (the rope continually passes twice under your feet each jump)
ï¿½ Hill work (running up an incline or on a bridge)
ï¿½ Stair climbing
ï¿½ Spinning, road biking, or mountain biking ï¿½ sit-down spinning drills and high-gear stand-up drills
ï¿½ Stretch-cord (tubing) exercises
ï¿½ Stroke-specific medicine-ball throws with a partner, or against a wall
ï¿½ Punching a heavy bag or punching pad
ï¿½ Kicking a heavy bag or kicking pad
ï¿½ Swim bench
ï¿½ Plyometric box jumps
ï¿½ Shuttle runs (sprint back and forth between orange cones set 20 yards apart)
ï¿½ Very light weights, targeting either the muscles used in the stroke, or the motion of the stroke
ï¿½ Abdominal and back exercises
3. Assemble all the necessary equipment for your three exercises BEFORE you start your session. You will have no more than 30 seconds rest between exercises, so you need everything set up and ready to go. Time is of the essence here, and you have to have a sense of purpose about your workout.
4. Perform your first chosen exercise (Exercise #1) for the time period established in Step #1 (T-time). Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat. Rest for another 30 seconds, then perform Exercise #2 for T-time. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat. Rest 30 seconds, then perform Exercise #3 for T-time. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat.
5. Your goal is to perform each exercise as INTENSELY as possible. HOWEVERï¿½when you institute an intense program like this, it is best to start out easy and build a base from which you can improve. Although INTENSITY is the key, initial moderation in the intensity, frequency and duration of the exercises will help keep you injury free, and will lead to better conditioning.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Think about the ORDER in which you do the exercises. Try to alternate from legs to arms to legs — giving your muscle groups a rest while still keeping your heart rate up.
2. Take no more than 30 seconds to recover between intervals, or exercises. Did I mention this was INTENSE? For maximum results, the conditioning drills should be practiced at least 2 times a week, with at least a day off in between.
3. Gradually increase the number of repeats you do of each exercise ï¿½ from 2 to a maximum of 6 repeat.
4. After you have a solid foundation, you can mix-up the sequence. For example, in one session you perform all the repeats of Exercise #1, then all repeats of Exercise #2, and finish with all repeats of Exercise #3. Next session, perform one repeat of each exercise, then go through the entire sequence again (or several times up to 6 circuits).
5. As your conditioning level improves, challenge yourself by adding other exercises from the list above to your regimen.
6. One last note; remember to stretch the muscles you have used after these workouts. How you leave your muscles today greatly influences your performance tomorrow.
To improve your 100 Free, three good exercises would be: running, stretch cord, and cycling (stand-up drill). The running works the legs, the stretch cord works the arms, and the cycling goes back to the legs. The running and cycling, by using your large-muscle group (legs), get your heart rate up higher, and your legs will become stronger for a more powerful kick. If you have access to a heart rate monitor, which are available with no bells and whistles for about $50, it will provide you with excellent feedback.
Running. Choose an area where you can run fast for 1:20. This could be a street outside your house or pool, or even the school track. Pick a designated starting point, run fairly fast for 1:20, and note your ending point. I like to set up small orange soccer cones to mark the start and finish so there is a visible goal. Start with 2, and work up to 6 repeats. As you get better, you may have to lengthen the distance between your starting and finishing points to still run for the 1:20 interval. You should view this as an improvement trophy.
Stretch cord. There are several freestyle stretch-cord exercises to choose from. (The CD Go Swim Dryland Exercises, Volume #1 offers a good selection.) Regardless of the drill(s) selected, the main objective is to perform the drill for 1:20. Start with 2, and work up to six repeats.
Bike stand-up drill. After pedaling the bike to get your initial forward motion, select the hardest gear and pedal standing up for 1:20. Start with 2, and work up to 6 repeats.