In these glorious few weeks between the end of championship season and the beginning of preseason, the last thing you are likely thinking of is your strength training…or is it? Preseason training can be a period of intense muscle soreness and physical fatigue. However, staying in better shape by maintaining your strength from one season to the next will help you manage preseason training better and set you up for a great training cycle. Let’s discuss three ways you can maintain your strength over the course of your break.
1. Hit the Gym
The obvious way to maintain your strength is to go through some basic strength exercises in the gym. If your goal is simply to maintain your baseline level, you do not need to execute complex movements. As a result, these strength training sessions can be done anywhere—in the gym, at home, or even at a hotel gym. If you don’t lift weights yet, you can focus on bodyweight exercises like pull ups, push ups, squats, and lunges. If you do lift, spend 30 minutes or so going through basic progressions using dumbbells or a barbell. Remember that you haven’t done much strength training since before taper, so you’ll likely need to start with a lighter weight than you were doing a month ago.
2. Stick to your Exercises
Maintain strength by doing exercises you are familiar with. Your body has already learned those movement patterns, so you can minimize any risk of injury that would come with trying new exercises. Focus on using proper technique with each repetition. Keep your weights medium to light, and your repetitions moderate. The important part of these strength sessions is to keep your muscles engaged during the exercises to retain their ability to fire correctly. You do not need to be putting on the heavy weights until your strength phase later in the year.
3. Stretching and Cardio
As with any activities during your break, take care of yourself and do everything in moderation. You can maintain your baseline through 2-3 strength training sessions per week, similar to your normal strength training schedule. If you are going to be lifting, make sure you also maintain your foam rolling and stretching to lengthen out tight muscles. Alternate your strength days with a bit of cardio to keep some variety in your fitness regimen. Remember to have fun! A little bit of effort on your part now will make those first couple weeks back in swimming much easier!
For additional content on swim-specific strength and conditioning, check out this article.