Myth Busting: Should Swimmers Lift Weights?
As teenage and adult swimmers begin taking EVO’s Gilbert swimming lessons, they often ask about other training they should or shouldn’t do to improve their endurance and performance. Weight lifting is an integral part of most athletes’ training, but many swimmers hesitate to do it for fear of bulking up and creating drag that reduces their speed. But is this fact or fiction?
We’re busting this myth!
Not only is it ok for swimmers to do strength training, but it’s actually encouraged because of the many benefits it helps achieve:
Contrary to common belief, lifting weights can increase a swimmer’s speed because it helps build the arm, leg, shoulder, and back muscles that propel you through the water faster.
Liberty University assistant swim coach Jessica Barnes explains, “Weight training was absolutely beneficial to my swimming in college [at Penn State]. Before college I had never lifted, only did pull-ups for strength work; therefore, I knew I had a lot of room for improvement in getting stronger and increasing my muscle mass. I put on 15 pounds of muscle over the course of my four years, and as a result of getting stronger outside of the pool, I got faster in the pool.”
Helps prevent injuries
Weight lifting also increases bone density while strengthening tendons, ligaments, and weak areas that are prone to injuries, like a swimmer’s shoulders. USA Swimming suggests several dry land exercises for improving strength and preventing injuries, including:
Keeps your body in shape during the off-season
Unless your swim team practices year-round, there are going to be weeks on end — perhaps months — when you aren’t swimming as regularly. Although the main season is usually seen as prime training time, what happens during the off-season is equally (if not more) important. Many swimmers take time off, indulge in foods that are normally off limits, and cut back on their training. However, those who keep up with their diet and exercise routine (including weight lifting) not only stay in better shape during the off-season, but also have a faster and easier transition back into the pool.
Swimming World reports several areas that swimmers can focus on improving by doing strength training during off-peak times, including healing injuries, strengthening weak links, improving body composition, and increasing overall athleticism.
Boosts mental health
Weight lifting isn’t just good for the body — it’s good for the mind and soul too. Studies show strength training reduces stress, releases endorphins that make you feel happier, increases your energy, and provides many other mental and emotional benefits.
Based on these facts, it’s safe to say that swimmers should ignore this myth and embrace strength training! For more information on EVO’s Gilbert swimming lessons, as well as tips on how to safely and effectively incorporate weight lifting into your routine, contact us at 480-539-2660.