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Speedo Says...

How to strengthen your core by Fred Vergnoux

Fire up your fitness results with technique tweaks and core exercise that promise to improve your strength and body positioning. Our world-leading elite swim coach, Fred Vergnoux, divulges his expert pro tips in his latest blog entry.

The importance of core strength

For my swimmers, core strength is something we work at on a daily basis. Core stability can help you to improve your swimming technique and maintain a streamlined body position, so that you are able to swim faster and more efficiently. The idea behind core work is to become stronger and to be able to use your strength in the water.

To improve your core strength and stability, aim to make one small change this week from the suggestions below:

Work on land-based core exercises

On land, maintaining an awareness of your body can be easier than in the water. Practise holding a horizontal position on a physio ball (lie across it in the streamlined swimming position) and you’ll be more aware of your muscles and position. This exercise also really works your abdominal muscles.

A mix of core exercises, including crunches, plank holds and using a medicine ball can also be used to improve your core strength.

Perform your core exercises before you swim

Work on your core directly before your swim and mix up your warm- up with core exercises – this is what I do with my swimmers every night. You’ll find you’re more aware of your core muscles in the water after working on them.

Practice this water-based core exercise

This drill helps improve your core strength and body positioning.

Push off from the pool edge and glide, in a streamlined position. Try to maintain a static horizontal position without moving your arms or legs for as long as possible. This helps engage your core and improve awareness of your body position.

Record your distance, practise and repeat again next week, measuring your improvement.

Try this drill: the plank progression

1 Perform a basic plank, with both elbows on the floor. Try to be as flat as possible, holding the plank position for 15 seconds.

2 Rest for 15 seconds then perform the same position as before but with your hands on the floor and arms out straight (as if in an extended press-up position); hold for 15 seconds and rest.

3 Now return to both elbows on the floor and raise one leg up, holding for 15 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds before repeating with the opposite leg.

4 Next, return to your classic plank and lift one arm straight out in front of you. Hold for 15 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat with the opposite arm.

5 Finally, return to the classic plank and raise your right arm in front of you and your left leg up off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds, rest, then switch arms/legs and repeat.

Repeat this exercise 6 times.