Dryside Training for Swimmers—Using Ropes to Increase Muscular Endurance

by Chris Myers, MS, CISSN
NSCA Coach June 2017
Vol 4, Issue 4


The exercises mentioned in this article are a small sampling of the drills available to the strength and conditioning coach when using rope drills. By adding these movements to a swimmer’s dryside training, swimmers can gain muscular endurance that will complement wetside training.

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Balancing dryside and wetside training for swimmers is challenging. United States of America Swimming defines dryside training as “any training a swimmer performs outside the pool,” (10). Whereas, wetside training is any training a swimmer performs in the pool. Resistance training is a great way to create an effective dryside training program. A good swimming coach will find a way to balance and complement these two modalities of training.

When coaches and swimmers think of dryside training, many think of resistance training to improve muscular strength, not endurance. Specifically referring to the front crawl stroke, muscular hypertrophy-focused resistance training can lead to small improvements in sprint performance with little to no improvement in endurance (2). The result is essentially the same across all swim strokes. This outcome is not surprising due to the muscle fiber types being trained. During muscle building types of resistance training, Type IIa and Type IIb muscle fibers are the primary focus. Anaerobic muscle fiber types are designed for short, powerful bursts of force. These muscle fiber types are good for short distance swims. However, for longer events, such as middle distance swims, triathlons, and open water swims, the swimmer needs to build endurance. Type IIa and Type IIb muscles are not specifically designed for endurance. To increase muscular endurance, Type I and Type IIa muscle fibers need to be targeted.

This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach »

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Christopher Myers, CSCS

Radford University

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Chris Myers is an exercise physiology doctoral candidate at Florida State University in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences. He o ...

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