Welcome Back! In today’s post, we are going to cover why squats are good for swimming and more specifically, your flipturns! If you love on land training, this post is definitely for you!
Let’s get started!
What is a squat?
By definition a squat is a popular exercise that targets the muscles in the legs, lower back, and core. There are many variations of squats out there including: back squats, front squats, goblet squats, jumping, and box squats. Squats are one of the most versatile strength and conditioning movements. Squats are considered a functional exercise, which just means you perform a squat in your everyday life.
Take right now for example – if you’re sitting in a chair reading this blog, most likely at some point – you’re going to get up from this chair. In order to do this, you must perform the second half of a squat.
How do you squat?
To perform a safe squat, you want to make sure you start with your knees and feet about shoulder width apart. You can slightly angle your toes away from your body. From there, you are going to start bringing the hips backwards while keeping the back straight and the torso upright. Visualize the sitting in a chair scenario or bending down to sit on a toilet seat. You want to lower your hips down until they are in line with your knees and your knees create a 90-degree angle with your thighs and lower legs. See the video of a back squat below.
There are a whole bunch of arguments of how low you need to squat, but in regards to swimming – you just need to work getting your thighs parallel to the ground.
In any of those movements – start, flipturn, or pushoffs, your knee angle is never smaller than 90-degrees.
Any angle sharper than 90-degrees on a start, flipturn, or pushoff would lead you to feeling that you’ve jammed your walls while swimming.
How Does Squatting Effect my Swimming?
Number one way squatting effects your swimming is through your start, flipturns, and pushoffs from the walls. To have a great start, you need to explosive and you need to JUMP off the block.
Same thing with your flipturns and pushoffs. You want a swimmer to use their legs and FORCEFULLY unbend their knees as they are swimming through resistance. There is no better way to mimic the resistance of the water than to do weighted squats on land. Weight squats on land help a swimmer become stronger, more efficient with moving their body in a vertical line, and help increase mobility through all the joints on the lower half of the body.
How to Perform a Squat Safely?
One of the biggest issues when swimmers start to squat is having limited ankle mobility. We spend most of our time flexing our feet in the opposite direction you’ll stretch your feet for squat. Click here for more information on that. So to make sure our squats are safe for swimmers, you need to keep the weight in the ball of the foot and try to keep the knees DIRECTLY over the feet, as your descending and ascending from that squat. It may be hard for some of you to go down low and keep your heels on the ground, if this is the case – go down as far as you can until you start feeling your heels want to leave the earth – stop there – and then start your ascend back up. See visual below.
Also, you don’t want to have your torso lean forward as your squatting and see your chest getting closer to your knees when you’re perform a squat. Always have your swimmers LOOK forward and think of a proud chest while squatting to protect their lower back and hips.
For more in depth discussion on the common errors seen in a squat, click here. Otherwise try your best to keep your heels on the ground, chest up, and knees pushing out to reduce any risk of injury while squatting.
I’ve NEVER Squatted Before! Where Should I Start?
I would 100% recommend starting small – do some bodyweight squats, jumping squats, and light goblet squats. Think sets of 8-12 reps and maybe 3-4 sets total. Remember: the legs are a very large muscle group so they can sustain a decent amount of training, but you don’t want to add squatting in without taking into consideration how it affects your swimmers overall training load.
Breaking down a large muscle group will require more recovery time as well, so all of these factors play into adding squats into your routine. If you don’t want to deal with programming your own strength training, don’t worry – we can do it for you. Check out our strength training options here.
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Until Next Time,
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