Incorporating land-based strength and conditioning into a training regimen can give the athlete a competitive edge, especially in a sport where a 100th of a second is important. Full body strength and power exercises should be included when designing a program to reduce the risk of injury for the shoulder complex, knee joint, and hip abductors.
When designing a program, three phases of the swim should be examined for strength and conditioning exercise considerations: the start (the dive from starting blocks or side of the pool), the swim, and the turn (the reverse of direction upon reaching the wall, several different styles can be used depending on the swimming stroke.
Studies have shown that adding plyometric training and focusing on triple extension at the hip, knee, and ankle could decrease overall time. Box jumps, broad jumps, and scoop tosses that include vertical tosses can be performed for overall power. Additionally, these exercises can be adapted for specific training needs by using a modified horizontal scoop toss that simulates exploding off the blocks.
Due to a higher occurrence of shoulder injuries in swimmers, incorporating shoulder and rotator cuff exercises may help to reduce the occurrence of those injuries. Additionally, swimmers could benefit from rotator cuff strengthening exercises such as planks or stability ball walkouts.
The core should also be trained in all directions and planes of movement since a strong and stable core will allow the swimmer to produce powerful pulls and kicks for longer periods of time.
The total program is affected by and should be planned in accordance with at what point of the season the athlete is in. Generally speaking, the program moves from very generalized in the off season to more specific as the season approaches. Initially strength gains and muscle mass, if needed, are emphasized. As the season approaches, more emphasis is placed on translating these gains to sport specific speed and power. The younger the athlete, the more skills training should be at the forefront. Provisions should be made in programs to blend skills and conditioning accordingly.