Why the SwimErg is more effective than stretch cords

One of the most common questions we receive from athletes is this:  

“Can stretch cords or bands be as effective as swim training on the Vasa SwimErg?”

While stretch cords and bands can be used for a limited set of prehab, rehab, and stroke exercises, the Vasa SwimErg offers athletes far more swim training options and benefits.

We asked multi-sport Coach Al Lyman to shed light on the misconceptions around this question.


Coach Al Lyman explains that the SwimErg is more effective than stretch cordsCoach Al Lyman: “One of the most common things I am asked by athletes who have heard about the Vasa SwimErg is this:   “I am doing swimming exercises with stretch cords.  Isn’t that as good as a Vasa Swim Ergometer?”

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I like using stretch cords.  I use them quite a bit for a variety of exercises that are both pre-habilitative and rehabilitative.  At times, I use them to train the front end of the freestyle stroke. The reality is, the Vasa SwimErg offers so much more than those uses.

First of all, there is objective data we can get from this tool. There is no other way you can truly learn what your Left and Right side power are when you are swimming.  It can’t be measured in the water, and it certainly can’t be measured with stretch cords or tubing. With the power meter and the ability to see and record watts or force production on the right and left arms, we now get objective data from the SwimErg that really allows you to see just how strong and powerful you are. Plus, we’ve got variable resistance on the ergometer. You can step away from an attachment point with stretch cords, but it’s just not the same feel as the 7 different levels of door settings on the Vasa that provide an air resistance that feels a lot like water.

Another great benefit of the Vasa SwimErg that is so valuable for athletes who have limited training time or can’t get to a pool as frequently as they want, is they can do very similar workouts on the ergometer as they would do in the pool.

The options are endless in terms of the different ways you can train with the ergometer, whereas with stretch cords and tubing, there are just a few exercises you can do and you are very limited.

In the many years that I’ve had my Vasa SwimErg, I continue to learn new ways every day how it can be used to enhance training time, effectiveness, and efficiency.  This is true not only for myself but for the athletes whom I coach.  So unequivocally, there is no question this is so much more valuable and it goes well beyond what you could ever do with tubing or stretch cords.”

Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, is a nationally recognized coach for endurance athletes.  An author, columnist, and motivational speaker, he has been coaching athletes of all ability levels from novice to elite, since 1999. Coach Al is certified by USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is a member of the American Swim Coaches Association.  For over 8 years, Al has coached Lisbeth Kenyon, multiple age-group World Champion Ironman Triathlete.  Read more about Lisbeth here.

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