Courtesy of Jukka Shemeikka
Glute activation alone can be difficult for an athlete to manage. We see this even at the Olympic level, in a form of performances where the athlete is very front line dominated. Connecting Glute activation to latissimus dorsi activation can be even more difficult. The Gluteus maximus is connected to latissimus dorsi with thoracolumbar fascia and those three form a posterior oblique sling (POS).
So, how does this relate to swimming? If the athlete achieves good control of POS in the water, then it is also possible, that he/she can e.g. swim 4 point connection freestyle, where the upkick of the opposite side leg of the catch arm will start the stroke sequence resulting in a optimal load distribution and faster swim speeds. Today there aren’t still many athletes that can handle the 4 point connection freestyle in a race performance.
Training the POS helps the athlete to gain better control of his stroke techniques. I recommend using two different strategies to train the POS. One way is performing the POS exercise during the pool training with rubber band resistance (both arm and leg attached). Athletes have reported that doing POS exercise in between swim sets enhances their scapula control. In this way, it helps them to maintain a stronger catch and have more relaxed & controlled recovery. POS activation has also enhanced their kick, making it more compact and active in both directions. Usually, the change is even visual to the surface.
Another way to train the POS is with cable pulley in a gym. Added weight reveals the weaker side of swimmer quite clearly. This also helps to detect the same side problems in the water and train the qualities in the gym. This might make you wonder, how to detect the lack of qualities of the athlete. We use the ‘Performance Screening’ (PS) that we are creating with our partners, as one of the projects in Modern Dryland Training – development program. We’ve been creating this screening process to detect these qualities in an athlete. We have found that Gait Analysis is very good tool e.g. to detect the lack of crossover training in an individual athlete. Sorry to say that all of these (PS and POS video) are still in the works, and not ready for release into our education series, but we’ll get there.