Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 2285–2307 | Cite as

The Impact of Resistance Training on Swimming Performance: A Systematic Review

  • Emmet CrowleyEmail author
  • Andrew J. Harrison
  • Mark Lyons
Systematic Review



The majority of propulsive forces in swimming are produced from the upper body, with strong correlations between upper body strength and sprint performance. There are significant gaps in the literature relating to the impact of resistance training on swimming performance, specifically the transfer to swimming performance.


The aims of this systematic literature review are to (1) explore the transfer of resistance-training modalities to swimming performance, and (2) examine the effects of resistance training on technical aspects of swimming.


Four online databases were searched with the following inclusion criteria: (1) journal articles with outcome measures related to swimming performance, and (2) competitive swimmers participating in a structured resistance-training programme. Exclusion criteria were (1) participants with a mean age <16 years; (2) untrained, novice, masters and paraplegic swimmers; (3) triathletes and waterpolo players; (4) swimmers with injuries or illness; and (5) studies of starts and turns specifically. Data were extracted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was applied.


For optimal transfer, specific, low-volume, high-velocity/force resistance-training programmes are optimal. Stroke length is best achieved through resistance training with low repetitions at a high velocity/force. Resisted swims are the most appropriate training modality for improving stroke rate.


Future research is needed with respect to the effects of long-term resistance-training interventions on both technical parameters of swimming and overall swimming performance. The results of such work will be highly informative for the scientific community, coaches and athletes.


Resistance Training Endurance Training Stroke Rate Swimming Performance Stroke Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflicts of interest

Emmet Crowley, Andrew J. Harrison and Mark Lyons declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomechanics Research Unit, Department of Physical Education and Sport SciencesUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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