A strong core is a requirement for swimmers looking to increase speed and improve technique. In order for swimmers to minimise drag resistance through the water, the core plays a very important role in keeping the body in a stable streamline position. Core muscles that are not well conditioned can lead to technical flaws, inefficiency in the water and halting your progress.
However, before we move forward, if you have not read our introduction, please do so now here – https://bit.ly/3bmlf8M and our 1st part of the series on shoulder mobility here – https://bit.ly/3cGHmHp and our 2nd part on thoracic mobility here – https://bit.ly/3aqcnO3
Whether we are talking about improving your front crawl, or butterfly or the amount of propulsion generated through your pull, it all originates from one place – the power house of your body, the core.
Swimming, unlike land-based exercises which you can push against the ground to generate force, begins at the core. When you rotate side to side while doing freestyle, when you are pulling your heels to your butt during a breaststroke kick; each of these movements uses your core to initiate and execute.
Improving your core strength will lead to progress in the water as a result of the following;
Stability and balance in the water.
A strong core gives you greater stability. This occurs because the core acts as a stabilizer to the pelvis and spine. As mentioned previously, all movements – and we are talking non-swimming movements as well such as walking, running, and lifting – pass through the centre of your body.
Keeps you streamlined.
Try streamlining with a soft midline. Now do it while engaging your midline and your glutes. Feel the difference? You should! Having an engaged core puts you in a rigid streamline. Benefits which for obvious reasons go beyond the pool with improvements in posture too.
As discussed in part two, thoracic mobility can lead to shoulder injuries, so too can a weak core. Having a developed core means the body is straight and aligned, reducing the stress on joints and muscles.
The benefit that will most appeal to you is this one. A strong core allows greater power from the outer muscles and limbs, including the arms for the pull, and the legs for your kick. Having increased core strength will come in very helpful for when you become fatigued in your swimming. Keeping the glutes engaged will keep your kick going, and the improved body position will help you keep your stroke together for longer.
Here are my top core exercise which you can supplement into your current training program;
On this exercise you need to pretend that a pint of water is balanced on your bum and you must keep your hips so rigid that it doesn’t move. As a result, I would do this exercise for say 30-60 seconds and aim for quality rather than reps or touches.
Like all exercises, its not what you do but how you do it that counts. Just as the above, the focus here should be on keeping your hip super rigid. The goal is to keep the midline completely engaged throughout, more and faster is not better, better is better.
Don’t just aim to stay here in this position, but rather create as much tension as possible with a hollow position and really activate and strengthen your core.
A typical session might look like.
Plank – 30 seconds – 1 minute
Bird Dog – 30 seconds – 1 minute
Shoulder taps – 30 seconds – 1 minute
Rest 1-2 minutes
X 3 – 4 rounds.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out me, Brendan, at [email protected]