The butterfly is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most energy-sapping stroke.
You consume twice as many calories swimming fly than swimming freestyle.
For this reason and because of the symmetry of arm movement required when performing this stroke and the large muscle groups involved, the butterfly is often used for developing strength, even when the swimmer is not trying to target any specific result in this stroke. Two types of strength can be developed using the drills I am proposing here: maximum strength and endurance strength.
As regards the former, the drills are to be performed at maximum arm speed and maximum thrust:
– 4/5 pull-ups using the edge of the pool + 12.5/15m butterfly; repeat 6-8 times with rest of 45 seconds to a minute.
– 15m butterfly sprints wearing a scuba diving belt (5kg); repeat 4-6 times with a minute rest.
– 15m butterfly sprints with paddles, freestyle legs and your head above the water; recovery of between 45 seconds and a minute.
– Swim butterfly using paddles in 25m reps with your feet tied together, average intensity and powerful arm acceleration from when your arms are level with your stomach until the thrust phase is fully completed. Repeat this drill 8 times with a rest of 25 to 30 seconds.
As regards endurance strength, the drills are to be performed at low intensity and maximum arm extension:
– Swim butterfly for at least 20 seconds in reps of 25m – 50m easy, 75m (at most) with recoveries of 15/20/25 seconds.
– Swim butterfly with a pullbuoy taking 6/7 arm strokes per each length of the pool (25m).
– Swim over-distance reps with a pullbuoy (from 500m-1000m) alternating backstroke or freestyle with butterfly (example: 1 x 600 with 25m butterfly and 50m freestyle).
– Swim butterfly taking 6/7 arm strokes for each length of the pool until exhaustion for approximately 20 seconds: start swimming at a moderate intensity and stop when you can no longer lift your arms. Then take a minute rest and then start swimming again until you have completed the set time.
This type of training should be done during the first 60/90 days of your annual program and then repeated occasionally throughout the year.
As well as being vital for proper body mechanics and performing well, strength is extremely important for your health, so why not try these drills?