We have already talked about the importance of the legs for swimmers. The driving force they provide is vital, particularly for those aiming to reach a fast pace during a sprint. This means it is crucial to allocate part of a training session to strengthening your lower limbs. Today we will be looking at three exercises to be performed at the poolside, in the water or both.
1. Squat & Sprint:
Place your feet at the edge of the pool with a board in your hands. This exercise involves a set of squats followed by a dive into the water and a 15 m or 25 m sprint.
Here is a reminder of how to perform a proper squat:
– Foot position: stand with your feet shoulders’ width apart or slightly wider.
– Back/spine: as you squat down and then back up make sure your spine remains in a neutral position.
– Do not lift your heels and make sure your push with heels and balls of your feet. A common mistake is to push with your toes only thereby lifting your heels.
– Knees: another common mistake is to bend your knees too far forwards while performing the exercise, placing too much strain on your knee joints. Move your hips back as if you were sitting down on an invisible chair, making sure your knees never extend beyond your toes.
– Always try and squat down into a parallel position or, in other words, until your hips are at the same level as your knees (and hence parallel).
Use the kickboard for balance while performing the squats and when you dive in the water immediately begin kicking powerfully with your legs. If you want to work on your breaststroke leg kick, then perform the squats with your feet pointing outwards. To make this exercise tougher, hold the kickboard like a “tombstone” while kicking with your legs during the sprints, i.e. perpendicular to the water and at least half way under to create resistance..
5 sets of 10-12 squats + a 15/25m sprint. Swim 50/100m easy between sets to recover or take a 1’30” rest.
2. Jumps in the water:
The water needs to be approximately 1.20/50 m deep to perform this drill. You simply jump upwards (as high as possible) with less risk of injury since you are half underwater. Use your arms to thrust upwards as you jump.
5 sets of 12 jumps with 50/100m easy swimming with legs only between sets.
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3. Vertical legs:
The water needs to be at least 2 m deep for this exercise. The exercise involves resisting the force of gravity using just the movement of your legs. This means your body remains in a vertical rather than a conventional horizontal position and does not move forward. You can perform either a butterfly, freestyle/backstroke or breaststroke leg kick, according to your requirements/skills. To make this exercise more difficult just raise your arms out of the water: the further they are out of the water the greater the effect of gravity.
You can use fins to begin with.
4 sets of 30” exercise and 1’ rest or 6 sets of increasing length (2×10”, 2×20”, 2×30”) again with a 1’ rest.
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