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Strength Training Solutions for Junior Elite Swimmers - What To Do and What To Avoid

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Strength Training Solutions for Junior Elite Swimmers - What To Do and What To Avoid

Strength training is a crucial aspect of any athlete's training program and is something that should be encouraged and supervised from a young age. In junior sports especially, the development of an overall athlete should be the number one priority over specialising in any one area.

Specialising too early can lead to all sorts of overuse injuries, physical imbalances as well as mental burnout. This is where making an athlete more explosive and powerful will aid their overall progression more than just training in their sport.

In the case of swimmers, improving their power, speed, mobility, explosiveness and technique on land will in turn translate into the water. The amount of time spent on technique, speed and endurance in the water is of course important, however it has been traditionally overdone with a lacking focus on strength training in the gym.

These are some of the common issues in training we have seen regarding junior elite swimmers.

Not enough strength training

  • By improving an athlete's general strength ie: stronger squat, deadlift, lat pulldown/pull ups and pushing movements, the individual will be able to kick and pull a lot harder in their strokes.

Lacking power development

  • Power is the ability to produce force as quickly as possible, this is extremely important for swimmers, being able to dive further and fast off the blocks and push off the wall harder during turns can take off precious milliseconds from their times.

Generalised training

  • Young female athletes can benefit greatly from doing plyometrics as this can help increase bone mineral density. A lacking focus on injury prevention can cause higher injury rates in the shoulders, knees, back and hips especially when comparing young female to male athletes.

Not enough variability

  • The extremely high frequency and loading, and the lack of variability between tempo, speed, speed endurance and easy work can lead to mental fatigue and athletic burnout. A good session to include is a % time drop off set, where once times drop below 5% and their PB, the focus then switches to easy technique work.

A well balanced training program will best serve your junior athlete in ensuring they remain injury free and performing at their best all year round.

We recommend strength training at least 2 times as well as well as focussing on general athletic development such as running, jumping and landing mechanics.

Begin the strength training by focussing on building overall strength through squats, deadlifts, pushing and pulling movements, along with core stability and rotational work. Then progressing towards a more power development and intensive plyometrics to make your young athlete a lot more explosive.

To find out you can improve your young athlete's performance, overall well-being and avoid burnout, contact us at Inner Athlete.

Matt Hucul
Junior Strength Coach
Inner Athlete (AUS)

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