The BridgeAthletic Building Block Series is a set of 5 exercises that can be performed by swimmers of all levels on the pool deck. This post will dive into butterfly-specific movement patterns that require full-body engagement and connectivity from toes to fingertips.
No butterfly is complete without a strong dolphin kick. The undulating movement demands a strong core. Use the ab roller exercise to build strength along the entire torso, from chest to hips. Upon full extension, the athlete must concentrate on engaging the core to return to starting position and avoid activation of the lower back muscles. This will develop strength in the same plane of motion as your butterfly so you can maximize power in the water.
1-Leg MB Overhead Pass
The purpose of the single leg medicine ball overhead pass is to build endurance in the small muscles of your shoulders while maintaining a stable connection along your kinetic chain. The kinetic chain is a concept in sports medicine used to describe the series of events that enable an athlete to perform a full body movement such as throwing, swinging, or in this case, swimming. Athletes perform full-body complex exercises to improve stability from fingertips to toes. The stronger one’s connection from upper body to lower body along the length of the kinetic chain, the more force can be generated in a movement like a butterfly stroke, where leverage originates from the chest, high hips, and a strong catch. Athletes can use this exercise to build stability through their core and back muscles to maximize connectivity.
SB W, Y, T
A primary purpose of stroke specific dryland exercises is to strengthen the muscles that support joints undergoing high repetition. In butterfly, the shoulder can be at risk of injury due to a combination of biomechanics, overtraining, and muscle weakness. To safely strengthen the small muscles surrounding the shoulder, perform Swiss ball W, Y, and T’s with minimal weight. High repetition, bodyweight and low resistance movements build strength while minimizing risk of muscle tear.
Donkey Kicks are a full-body exercise that require a strong core to maintain one’s balance on the kick-out. Two primary targets of this exercise are lower core strength and shoulder stability. With hands firmly planted, the athlete must contract the core to extend legs upward and control the kick out and in. This exercise builds strength through the shoulder and upper back to suspend the lower body in the air.
In core training we often perform the upper body crunch movement and neglect the important lower body extension that strengthens lower abdominal muscles. This exercise combines both for an ab-burning experience. When executed correctly with straight arms and legs on the V-up, this exercise will strengthen the entire length of one’s abdominal muscles. Stronger lower abdominal muscles translate to a more powerful dolphin kick and faster hip drive in butterfly.