Three Pet Hates About Swimming Strength Training

Courtesy: Ryan Evernden

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Ryan Evernden. I am the Co-Founder & Head Coach of Formidable Strength & Conditioning (FSC), a former swim coach & Australian national open finalist in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke. This amounts to over 10 years of experience within the world of swimming.

Over the last five years, I have been solely involved in the strength side of the sport, and, in turn, FSC has worked with every level of swimmer imaginable. From 2x Olympians such as Heidi Gan to my mate Chris looking to compete in the Cottesloe Mile (a local event in Perth).

In this time I have tried and tested many different methods to get each athlete stronger, more efficient, and most importantly, decrease their likelihood of injury. Here are my three pet hates surrounding swimming strength training, letting you know exactly what not to do.

1. Mimicking strokes with bands – Wait, what? But isn’t that specific? Well yes it might look similar but that doesn’t always make it the same. The resistance quality of a band and water are completely different. It’s like saying that sugar and salt are the same because they look similar… put them in your mouth and you’ll realize that’s not the case. A band develops resistance as you pull it, where in the water you have the highest force requirement at the start of the pull. So it’s not actually specific to the demands of the stroke. It also looks dumb…. in my personal opinion.

2. Lifting heavy weights will make you slow – This is like saying 1+1=5. Lifting weight is just a way to measure an expression of force. The heavier the weight, the more force you need to express. So by lifting heavy weights we are training the body to express more force and as a result, to have a higher potential to use that force against the water. Newton’s third law of motion states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Therefore, if you have a higher potential to produce force against the water you will have a greater reaction to that force. So you’ll be able to go faster, not slower.

3. Strength Training will not enhance your endurance – This is another one that makes no sense. As mentioned in my previous point, we are just increasing the amount of force we can express. So if I have increased the amount of force I can express, I have made my previous max easier. If my previous max is easier, it will require less effort to do. If it is easier to do, I’ll be able to do it for longer. Therefore, I can go faster for longer. For example, if I could only just do a 1:30 LCM cycle, but then improve so I could now do a 1:20 LCM cycle, I would be able to do a 1:30 LCM easily. Sounds like an enhancement to your endurance to me….

I hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. If you would like to get regular information and content please join my free Facebook group “Swimming Strong” – and follow me on Instagram: @Swimming_strong.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Ryan Evernden #beformidable

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1 year ago

This is a pretty surface level understanding of how strength training works.

Just because you’re stronger in the context of lifting a bar up and down does not mean that that expression of force is useful or even transfers to the pool at all.

The body adapts to all sorts of stimulus. Strength and muscle size is the most measurable so we assume it’s the most beneficial. But we also know that the body is constantly remodeling soft tissue to respond to the demands of the tasks at hand. If that remodeling is beneficial to lifting a bar up and down but detrimental to rhythmic, fluid and powerful swimming technique, that strength is meaningless and probably even a bad… Read more »

Reply to  Slowmoswimguy
1 year ago

this is *fabulous*. Thank you!

Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

Where I don’t agree with much of what was written as there are some general statements that don’t apply or are incorrect in regards to an athlete’s maturity (physical and chronological, I do respect the effort and thought put into it. There are plenty of ways and variations to implement bands, weights, etc through a training cycle that will greatly benefit the athlete. It all depends on how and when.

Hopefully swimming strong continues to build as a credible program as you/they refine the direction they are going.

Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

I agree with you. For some swimmers, lifting heavy backfires on them, adds nothing to their endurance, and changes the speed that they had in the water when they did not lift weight.

Steve Nolan
1 year ago

It took me way too long to realize “pet hates” means “pet peeves” in Australian.

“Three things my pet hates about my dryland training?? I mean my dog sometimes gets confused when I’m working out at home and just wants to come snuggle when I’m stretching out on the floor but prolly doesn’t hate that. Sometimes the weights go CLANK and maybe that’s bothersome??”

In the abstract I agree with all the points here, but there are aspects of all three where they’re wrong. (For the most part lifting heavy is definitely good, but you can absolutely make yourself slower while gettin’ gainz – be it by doing the wrong moves correctly, doing the right moves incorrectly, accidentally bulkin’… Read more »

1 year ago

this post is…rough, but probably not worth refuting. it’s one thing to miss punctuation in the comment section, but to have it published?

also…”it also looks dumb” is wild reason to exclude certain kinds of strength training. buckwild.

Reply to  mcphee
1 year ago

Upvoting because of use of the term “buckwild”

1 year ago

I’m seeking a Nike swim ad at the top… are they back in again? They really can’t make up their mind whether they want to be in the swim game or not.