Including weight training as part of your swimming exercises could help you improve overall strength and endurance for long open water swims.
This is especially true if you are planning to take on an Ironman 70.3 or the very challenging 2.4-mile swim of a full Ironman.
Many triathletes ignore strength training altogether but adding a 30 minute, 3 times a week weight training program into your work-outs will pay dividends out on the triathlon swim course.
It’s not so much about swimming faster as it is about swimming smarter.
Swimming requires strength and more importantly the endurance that will allow you to save energy in the swim.
A rapid loss of energy is usually the result if you enter a triathlon and are struggling from lack of endurance and proper form.
Energy that is lost in the swim is unrecoverable in the bike and run and often a poorly planned swim results in a very difficult run later in the day.
IS WEIGHT TRAINING RIGHT FOR YOU?
Weight training might not be the best thing for the very beginner triathlete who will most likely be entering shorter triathlons.
First of all, the beginner triathlete may need to spend more time simply learning how to swim, bike, and becoming fitter in general.
Adding weight training to the equation might be asking too much of yourself if you are new to the sport.
Weight training makes more sense when a triathlete has a better idea of which direction their triathlon career is going to take.
For instance if a triathlete is planning to take on the Ironman 70.3 or Ironman challenge, incorporating a weight program into their swimming training would make more sense.
HIGH REPETITIONS-LOWER WEIGHT
Triathletes will benefit much more from swimming exercises like weight training if they do more repetitions with less weight.
Pushing maximum weights will add lots of muscle and you will bulk up, but this should not be your main goal as a triathlete.
Your goal is to build a combination of strength and endurance, and what seems to work best are three sets of 12-15 repetitions. If you can’t finish the first set, then the weight you are using is too heavy.
You should be able to make it into the third set before it becomes more difficult. If you can breeze through all three sets with no problem, then the weight you are using is most likely too light.
If you have to really work to do the last 5 reps or so of the last set(or perhaps can’t even finish the last set)then you most likely have the perfect amount of weight.
When you can finally finish all of the third set comfortably you have gained strength and it’s time to increase the weight a little and repeat the process.
TYPES OF SWIMMING EXERCISES TO TRY
Of course you want to concentrate on the upper body when doing exercises to improve your muscular strength and endurance for swimming.
Some choices are the bicep curl, bench press, shoulder press, lat pull-down, and behind the neck pull-down.
There are many options to consider and it depends of several factors, including whether or not you have access to weight stations or if you are using free weights only.
I was weight training one day when members of a swim club came in with their coach for some weight training.
They did circuit training. There were six exercise stations and they were all stations that worked the upper body.
Lat pull-downs, behind the neck press, and bicep curl were included in the six stations. They would all do 15 reps on a station at a fairly quick pace, and then move right on to the next station with very little rest.
They were in the weight room for no more than 20 minutes and in that time did 2 sets of 15 reps of all six weight stations that keyed on swimming exercises.
It was pretty impressive and was a good lesson because many of these swimmers had world class potential and obviously their coach knew what he was doing.
It was a perfect example of not using huge amounts of weights and doing a lot of reps(15)to increase endurance.
There is a swimming book called “Total Immersion”(get your 10% discount code below) that I would recommend to anyone, triathlete or not.
This is the program that changed my swim technique forever and the program that really taught me how to swim properly. It teaches you to relax and get comfortable in the water.
Struggling to breathe is a natural reaction as swimming is not natural to us and we have to teach ourselves to relax and only by learning proper swim technique can this be accomplished.
is the perfect system to incorporate into your swim training as your career develops.
If you are completely new to swimming, then you have the advantage of developing a great stroke from the very beginning without having to break bad swimming habits.
TOTAL IMMERSION….Simply one of the best swimming techniques in the world today for triathletes of any level.