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How To Balance Dryland Training With Pool Swimming

Vasa Trainer Pro Coach FemaleWhen swimmers effectively balance dryland swim training with pool swimming, the results can be a real win, especially for age-group swimmers, masters swimmers, triathletes and swim coaches.

Dryland swim training that is designed to strengthen your weaknesses and build on your strengths will improve your swimming. A thoughtfully planned dryland swim training routine is an effective, efficient way to improve durability, strength, and speed.  It’s also a great supplement to time in the water. 

Yet many swimmers and triathletes continue to do the same pool-only training and expect better results.

Between the challenges of getting to the pool and other time constraints, dryland training is a proven good alternative. While too much of the wrong kind of dryland training could negatively impact your swimming, the key is to find a way to use both types of training to achieve your goals. Here’s how to do that with a Vasa Trainer or with the Vasa SwimErg.

The Goals of Dryland Training for Stronger, Better, Faster Swimming

The 4 main goals with any balanced dryland swim training program include: 

  1. Consistent swim-specific training
  2. Increased strength, power, and endurance
  3. Improved stroke technique & efficiency
  4. Injury prevention and increased mobility

Swimerg crossfitConsistency Rules

If you want to become a better athlete in any sport, consistent quality practice in that sport is essential. However, for many time-starved busy swimmers, triathletes, and surfers,  consistent swim training at the pool or in open water is not always easy and sometimes impossible. 

Having effective “go-to” indoor training solutions at home or at the gym will help you supplement your swimming and maintain consistency.  In some cases, being forced to do dryland swim training on a Vasa Trainer or Vasa SwimErg actually revealed weaknesses that had not been detected previously. This is especially true when an athlete cannot go in the water due to an injury, as described in this article.

Increased Strength, Power, and Endurance Training

In terms of performance, it can be difficult to build stronger muscles by swimming only.  Building muscle requires resistance training. As muscles respond to the stressors of heavy objects, microtears in the tissue are repaired, causing muscles to strengthen.

In a water environment, reduced gravity and friction make muscle building more difficult. That’s why it’s so important to build muscle outside of the pool using proven effective strength & power training methods.

Swim-specific training machines like the Vasa SwimErg and the Vasa Trainer are designed for simulating all 4 swimming strokes, with greater resistance that builds muscle tissue in exactly the right places.  Top swim coaches and athletes successfully realized these benefits for many years.

Vasa SwimErg Woman Pool

Since training on land means you don’t have the distractions of kicking or breathing patterns when swimming in the water, you can focus on building swim-specific strength, power, endurance and a greater range of movement instead.

There are plenty of other reasons to incorporate dryland training into your regular routine because the benefits of dryland training with these tools don’t stop there.

How To Balance Dryland Swim Training To Improve Swim Performance

Dryland training with weights or resistance bands can improve performance.

In a study on the effects of dryland training on swim performance, researchers found that swimmers who used resistance training (bands or cords) in addition to pool training showed increases in strength of bicep and tricep muscles.

They also found that those who performed weight training and swim-specific resistance training showed “significant” increases in swimming velocity and that swimmers were able to maintain stroke length while increasing stroke rate.

Resistance training increased performance for those in the study across three sprint freestyle events by an average of 2.3%, when training was performed consistently for at least 12 weeks.

Dryland training can also aid in what’s called “active recovery.” Light to moderate-intensity exercise can increase recovery speeds and reduce residual fatigue. This makes resistance training an important component to include alongside your time in the water.

balance dryland swim training
(Image source)

Improved Stroke Technique and Efficiency

Of course, too much of the wrong kind of dryland training can actually be detrimental to your performance.

In terms of physical stress, swimming is designed to elongate the body, whereas weight training can shorten muscles if not performed correctly. 

If your dryland training doesn’t “elongate” your muscles, you could be negatively impacting performance once you do go to the pool.  It’s very important to gain a long, taut bodyline for efficient swimming and the right dryland training exercises will do that.

Olympic Gold Medalist, Lenny Krayzelburg, used the Vasa Trainer for exactly those reasons.

“You get strength training as well as stretch, and I think that’s extremely crucial, especially when swimming long course meters.  That’s very important to have long, lean muscles, and I think Vasa really allows you to do that.”

By balancing dryland training with your time in the pool, you can increase strength and stability for your body without sacrificing the form needed to perform in the water.

Vasa Trainer Upright Row

Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Through Balanced Dryland Swim Training

Repetitive movements can also increase the chances of injuries, and this is especially true for swimming. In one study of the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in competitive swimmers, 60% of swimmers reported experiencing at least one injury, with shoulder injuries being the most common.

These are great reasons to supplement in water swim training with dryland training.  In a recent article in Swimming World,  it’s only a matter of time before many swimmers experience a shoulder injury, a lower leg or foot injury, or another injury that keeps them out of the pool.  That’s one more compelling reason why so many top swim programs keep Vasa Trainers and SwimErgs available for injury rehab. 

Final Thoughts To Balance Dryland Swim Training With Pool Training

Both dryland training and in-water swimming are essential elements for improving swim performance.

When it comes to balancing between the two, it’s important to find the right training program that is time-efficient, improves on your weakness, and fits well into your lifestyle as well as your overall goals.

If you prioritize dryland training over the pool training, be sure to spend some time swimming in the water to keep your technical edge and to make sure your breathing pattern is comfortable. On the other hand, if you’re not doing dryland training at all, especially masters swimmers and triathletes, adjust your training to include strength exercises.  This will reduce the risks of injuries and will help to improve your durability and performance over time.