How to improve leg strength
1. Add a kickboard to your swim session
Invest in a kickboard to help you isolate your lower body and allow you to work on your leg strength. The larger the kickboard, the more it holds you up in the water, so stronger swimmers should opt for smaller floats (or hold them by the nearest end only) to get the most out of a kick set.
2. Vary your pace
Changes of pace, from steady to maximum effort, are ideal.
3. Increase the difficulty rating
A ‘power kick’, where you hold a small float upright, instead of flat, and push it through water, makes a kick set tougher and is great for work over shorter distances.
4. Vary your strokes
Mix up the strokes you use during each a kick set in order to work a wider range of muscles.
5. Add fins to your workout
Using fins allows you to move faster, which not only feels good, but can also work the legs harder because of the added resistance. (N.B Avoid using fins when swimming breaststroke).
How to increase arm and upper body strength
1. Add a pullbuoy to your workout
Using a pullbuoy, which you hold between your legs as you swim, allows you to swim using only your arms, helping to strengthen and tone your shoulders and arms – great for targeting “bingo wings”. Weaker swimmers can kick their legs slightly while using a pullbuoy, but stronger swimmers should cross their feet to maximise the upper body workout.
2. Add sets using only your arms
Distance or speed sets using arms only work the muscles in different ways for a better overall result.
3. Create resistance
Using paddles will add resistance and work your arms harder. Make sure your technique is good on each arm pull, so that you feel the benefit on every pull through the water.
How to use resistance training to improve your strength
1. Incorporate paddles into your workout
Using paddles on any stroke (full stroke), while concentrating on pulling hard, will make a swim set tougher and work your arms and shoulders more intensively. Combining paddles with a pullbuoy will make it a much more demanding upper-body workout.
2. Combine speed work with paddles
Sprinting while wearing paddles creates greater resistance, working the upper body even harder. It’s important to concentrate on technique when using paddles, so that you feel the resistance throughout the arm pull. Now want to swim faster and for longer?
3. Combine speed work with paddles
Sprinting while wearing paddles creates greater resistance, working the upper body even harder. It’s important to concentrate on technique when using paddles, so that you feel the resistance throughout the arm pull.
Build Your Endurance: How To Swim Further, Faster
Former World Champion swimmer and gold medallist, Karen Pickering MBE, shares her endurance tips.