Advertisement

Sports Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 527–543 | Cite as

Exercise-Training Intervention Studies in Competitive Swimming

  • Stian Thoresen AspenesEmail author
  • Trine Karlsen
Review Article

Abstract

Competitive swimming has a long history and is currently one of the largest Olympic sports, with 16 pool events. Several aspects separate swimming from most other sports such as (i) the prone position; (ii) simultaneous use of arms and legs for propulsion; (iii) water immersion (i.e. hydrostatic pressure on thorax and controlled respiration); (iv) propulsive forces that are applied against a fluctuant element; and (v) minimal influence of equipment on performance. Competitive swimmers are suggested to have specific anthropometrical features compared with other athletes, but are nevertheless dependent on physiological adaptations to enhance their performance. Swimmers thus engage in large volumes of training in the pool and on dry land. Strength training of various forms is widely used, and the energetic systems are addressed by aerobic and anaerobic swimming training. The aim of the current review was to report results from controlled exercise training trials within competitive swimming. From a structured literature search we found 17 controlled intervention studies that covered strength or resistance training, assisted sprint swimming, arms-only training, leg-kick training, respiratory muscle training, training the energy delivery systems and combined interventions across the aforementioned categories. Nine of the included studies were randomized controlled trials. Among the included studies we found indications that heavy strength training on dry land (one to five repetitions maximum with pull-downs for three sets with maximal effort in the concentric phase) or sprint swimming with resistance towards propulsion (maximal pushing with the arms against fixed points or pulling a perforated bowl) may be efficient for enhanced performance, and may also possibly have positive effects on stroke mechanics. The largest effect size (ES) on swimming performance was found in 50 m freestyle after a dry-land strength training regimen of maximum six repetitions across three sets in relevant muscle-groups (ES 1.05), and after a regimen of resisted- and assisted-sprint training with elastic surgical tubes (ES 1.21). Secondly, several studies suggest that high training volumes do not pose any immediate advantage over lower volumes (with higher intensity) for swim performance. Overall, very few studies were eligible for the current review although the search strategy was broad and fairly liberal. The included studies predominantly involved freestyle swimming and, overall, there seems to be more questions than answers within intervention-based competitive swimming research. We believe that this review may encourage other researchers to pursue the interesting topics within the physiology of competitive swimming.

Keywords

Resistance Training Strength Training Swimming Performance Competitive Swimming Swimming Training 
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.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciate the assistance from Nina Zisko for proof reading the manuscript. No funding was received to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

This paper was inspired by the achievements of the Norwegian swimming world champion Alexander Dale Oen (1985–2012), a true champion both as a role model and an athlete.

References

  1. 1.
    Wallechinsky D, Loukey J. The complete book of the Olympics. 2008 ed. London: Aurum Press Ltd, 2008Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Johansen T, Svendsby E. The sportsbook 2008 [in Norwegian]. 1st ed. Oslo: Schibsted, 2008Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lavoie JM, Montpetit RR. Applied physiology of swimming. Sports Med 1986 May–Jun; 3 (3): 165–89PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Smith DJ, Norris SR, Hogg JM. Performance evaluation of swimmers: scientific tools. Sports Med 2002; 32 (9): 539–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stager JM, Tanner DA, editors. Swimming. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell Science, 2005Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Toussaint HM, Hollander AP. Energetics of competitive swimming: implications for training programmes. Sports Med 1994 Dec; 18 (6): 384–405PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Toussaint HM, Vervoorn K. Effects of specific high resistance training in the water on competitive swimmers. Int J Sports Med 1990 Jun; 11 (3): 228–33PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Toussaint HM, Beek PJ. Biomechanics of competitive front crawl swimming. Sports Med 1992 Jan; 13 (1): 8–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Åstrand PO, Rodahl K, Dahl HA, et al. Textbook of work physiology. 4th ed. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 2003Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pate RR, Kriska A. Physiological basis of the sex difference in cardiorespiratory endurance. Sports Med 1984 Mar–Apr; 1 (2): 87–98PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bouchard C, An P, Rice T, et al. Familial aggregation of VO(2max) response to exercise training: results from the HERITAGE Family Study. J Appl Physiol 1999 Sep; 87 (3): 1003–8PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Vilas-Boas JP. The Leon Lewillie memorial lecture: biomechanics and medicine in swimming, past, present and future. In: Kjendlie PL, Stallman RK, Cabri J, editors. XIth international symposium of biomechanics and medicine in swimming; 2010 Jun 16–19. Oslo: Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, 2010: 12–9Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Journal of Swimming Research. Index [online]. Available from URL: http://www.indiana.edu/~hplab/jsrindex_web.html [Accessed 2012 Apr 24]
  14. 14.
    Kilding AE, Brown S, McConnell AK. Inspiratory muscle training improves 100 and 200 m swimming performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 2010 Feb; 108 (3): 505–11PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Aspenes S, Kjendlie PL, Hoff J, et al. Combined strength and endurance training in competitive swimmers. J Sports Sci Med 2009 Sept; 8 (3): 357–65Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Faude O, Meyer T, Scharhag J, et al. Volume vs. intensity in the training of competitive swimmers. Int J Sports Med 2008 Nov; 29 (11): 906–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Konstantaki M, Winter E, Swaine I. Effects of arms-only swimming training on performance, movement economy, and aerobic power. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2008 Sep; 3 (3): 294–304PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Girold S, Maurin D, Dugue B, et al. Effects of dry-land vs. resisted- and assisted-sprint exercises on swimming sprint performances. J Strength Cond Res 2007 May; 21 (2): 599–605PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Konstantaki M, Winter EM. The effectiveness of a leg-kicking training program on performance and physiological measures of competitive swimmers. Int J Sports Sci Coach 2007; 2 (1): 37–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Girold S, Calmels P, Maurin D, et al. Assisted and resisted sprint training in swimming. J Strength Cond Res 2006 Aug; 20 (3): 547–54PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mavridis G, Kabitsis C, Gourgoulis V, et al. Swimming velocity improved by specific resistance training in age-group swimmers. Rev Port Cien Desp 2006; 6 Suppl. 2: 304–6Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wells GD, Plyley M, Thomas S, et al. Effects of concurrent inspiratory and expiratory muscle training on respiratory and exercise performance in competitive swimmers. Eur J Appl Physiol 2005 Aug; 94 (5–6): 527–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Konstantaki M, Winter EM, Swaine IL. The effects of arms-or legs-only training on indices of swimming performance and dry-land endurance in swimmers. In: Keskinen KL, Komi PV, Hollander AP, editors. VIIIth international symposium of biomechanics and medicine in swimming; 1998 28 Jun–2 Jul. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä. 1998:391–5Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Trappe S, Pearson D. Effects of weight assisted dry-land strength training on swimming performance. J Strength Cond Res 1994 Nov; 8 (4): 209–13Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Tanaka H, Costill DL, Thomas R, et al. Dry-land resistance training for competitive swimming. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1993 Aug; 25 (8): 952–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Costill DL, Thomas R, Robergs RA, et al. Adaptations to swimming training: influence of training volume. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1991 Mar; 23 (3): 371–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Roberts AJ, Termin B, Reilly MF, et al. Effectiveness of biokinetic training on swimming performance in collegiate swimmers. J Swim Res 1991; 7 (3): 5–11Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Strass D. Effects of maximal strength training on sprint performance of competitive swimmers. In: Ungerechts BE, Wilke K, Reischle K, editors. Vth International Symposium of Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming; 1986 Jul 27–31. Bielefeld: Human Kinetics Books, 1986: 149–56Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Houston ME, Wilson DM, Green HJ, et al. Physiological and muscle enzyme adaptations to two different intensities of swim training. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1981; 46 (3): 283–91PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sharp RL, Troup JP, Costill DL. Relationship between power and sprint freestyle swimming. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1982; 14 (1): 53–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hawley JA, Williams MM. Relationship between upper body anaerobic power and freestyle swimming performance. Int J Sports Med 1991 Feb; 12 (1): 1–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Shimonagata S, Taguchi M, Miura M. Effect of swimming power, swimming power endurance and dry-land power on 100 m freestyle performance. In: Chatard JC, editor. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming IX; 2003. Saint-Etienne: University of Saint-Etienne, 2003: 391–6Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Dopsaj M, Milosevic M, Matkovic I, et al. The relation between sprint ability in freestyle swimming and force characteristics of different muscle groups. In: Keskinen KL, Komi PV, Hollander AP, editors. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming VIII; 1999. Jyväskylä: Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, 1999: 203–8Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Magnusson SP, Constantini NW, McHugh MP, et al. Strength profiles and performance in Masters’ level swimmers. Am J Sports Med 1995 Sep–Oct; 23 (5): 626–31PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Manning JM, Dooly-Manning CR, Terrell DT, et al. Effects of a power circuit weight training program on power production and performance. J Swim Res 1986; 2 (1): 24–9Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Anderson M, Hopkins W, Roberts A, et al. Ability of test measures to predict competitive performance in elite swimmers. J Sports Sci 2008 Jan; 26 (2): 123–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wilson GJ, Murphy AJ. The use of isometric tests of muscular function in athletic assessment. Sports Med 1996 Jul; 22 (1): 19–37PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Burd NA, Holwerda AM, Selby KC, et al. Resistance exercise volume affects myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic signalling molecule phosphorylation in young men. J Physiol 2010 Aug 15; 588 (Pt 16): 3119–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Halson SL, Jeukendrup AE. Does overtraining exist? An analysis of overreaching and overtraining research. Sports Med 2004; 34 (14): 967–81Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    McDonagh MJ, Davies CT. Adaptive response of mammalian skeletal muscle to exercise with high loads. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1984; 52 (2): 139–55PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Pendergast D, Mollendorf J, Zamparo P, et al. The influence of drag on human locomotion in water. Undersea Hyperb Med 2005 Jan–Feb; 32 (1): 45–57PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hollander AP, de Groot G, van Ingen Schenau GJ, et al. Contribution of the legs to propulsion in front crawl swimming. In: Ungerechts BE, Wilke K, Reischle K, editors. Swimming science. V ed. Bielefeld: Human Kinetics, 1988: 39–43Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Holmer I. Energy cost of arm stroke, leg kick, and the whole stroke in competitive swimming styles. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1974; 33 (2): 105–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Tanaka H, Costill D, Thomas R, et al. Impact of resistance training on endurance performance: a new form of crosstraining? Sports Med 1998; 25 (8): 191–200PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Gullstrand L, Holmér I. Physiological characteristics of champion swimmers during a five-year follow-up period. In: Hollander AP, Huijing PA, De Groot G, editors. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming. IV ed. Amsterdam: Champaign (IL); Human Kinetics, 1983: 203–8Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Cordain L, Stager J. Pulmonary structure and function in swimmers. Sports Med 1988 Nov; 6 (5): 271–8PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Pendergast DR, Lundgren CE. The underwater environment: cardiopulmonary, thermal, and energetic demands. J Appl Physiol 2009 Jan; 106 (1): 276–83PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ogita F, Hara M, Tabata I. Anaerobic capacity and maximal oxygen uptake during arm stroke, leg kicking and whole body swimming. Acta Physiol Scand 1996 Aug; 157 (4): 435–41PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Secher NH, Volianitis S. Are the arms and legs in competition for cardiac output? Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006 Oct; 38 (10): 1797–803PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Miyashita M, Takahashi S, Troup JP, et al. Leg extension power of elite swimmers. In: Maclaren D, Reilly T, Lees A, editors. VIth International Symposium of Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming; 1990 Sep 7–11. London: E & FN Spon, 1990: 295–9Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Potdevin FJ, Alberty ME, Chevutschi A, et al. Effects of a 6-week plyometric training program on performances in pubescent swimmers. J Strength Cond Res 2011 Jan; 25 (1): 80–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Magel JR, Lange Andersen K. Pulmonary diffusing capacity and cardiac output in young trained Norwegian swimmers and untrained subjects. Med Sci Sports 1969; 1 (3): 131–9Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Sheel AW. Respiratory muscle training in healthy individuals: physiological rationale and implications for exercise performance. Sports Med 2002; 32 (9): 567–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Riganas CS, Vrabas IS, Christoulas K, et al. Specific inspiratory muscle training does not improve performance or VO2max levels in well trained rowers. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2008 Sep; 48 (3): 285–92PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Volianitis S, McConnell AK, Koutedakis Y, et al. Inspiratory muscle training improves rowing performance. Med Sci Sports Exer 2001 May; 33 (5): 803–9Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Helgerud J, Høydal K, Wang E, et al. Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve \(\dot V\)O2max more than moderate training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007 Apr; 39 (4): 665–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Mickleborough TD, Stager JM, Chatham K, et al. Pulmonary adaptations to swim and inspiratory muscle training. Eur J Appl Physiol 2008 Aug; 103 (6): 635–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Clanton TL, Dixon GF, Drake J, et al. Effects of swim training on lung volumes and inspiratory muscle conditioning. J Appl Physiol 1987 Jan; 62 (1): 39–46PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Griffiths LA, McConnell AK. The influence of inspiratory and expiratory muscle training upon rowing performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 2007 Mar; 99 (5): 457–66PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Lomax ME, McConnell AK. Inspiratory muscle fatigue in swimmers after a single 200 m swim. J Sports Sci 2003 Aug; 21 (8): 659–64PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Siegmund GP, Edwards MR, Moore KS, et al. Ventilation and locomotion coupling in varsity male rowers. J Appl Physiol 1999 Jul; 87 (1): 233–42PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Avalos M, Hellard P, Chatard JC. Modeling the training-performance relationship using a mixed model in elite swimmers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003 May; 35 (5): 838–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Mujika I, Busso T, Geyssant A, et al. Training content and it’s effects on performance in 100 and 200 m swimmers. In: Troup JP, Hollander AP, Strasse D, et al., editors. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming VII; 1996. Atlanta (GA). London: E & FN Spon, 1996: 201–7Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Costill D. Training adaptations for optimal performance. In: Keskinen KL, Komi PV, Hollander AP, editors. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming VIII ed., 1999. Jyväskylä: Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, 1999: 381–90Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Laursen PB. Training for intense exercise performance: high-intensity or high-volume training? Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010 Oct; 20 Suppl. 2: 1–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Wenger HA, Bell GJ. The interactions of intensity, frequency and duration of exercise training in altering cardiorespiratory fitness. Sports Med 1986 Sep–Oct; 3 (5): 346–56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Mujika I, Chatard JC, Busso T, et al. Effects of training on performance in competitive swimming. Can J Appl Physiol 1995 Dec; 20 (4): 395–406PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Chatard JC, Mujika I. Training load and performance in swimming. In: Keskinen KL, Komi PV, Hollander AP, editors. Biomechanics and medicine in swimming VIII ed., 1999. Jyväskylä: Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, 1999: 429–34Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Miyashita M, Hayashi Y, Furuhashi H. Maximum oxygen intake of Japanese top swimmers. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1970 Dec; 10 (4): 211–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Wakayoshi K, D’Acquisto LJ, Cappaert JM, et al. Relationship between oxygen uptake, stroke rate and swimming velocity in competitive swimming. Int J Sports Med 1995 Jan; 16 (1): 19–23PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Holmer I. Oxygen uptake during swimming in man. J Appl Physiol 1972 Oct; 33 (4): 502–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Costill D. Lactate metabolism for swimming. In: Maclaren D, Reilly T, Lees A, editors. VIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming; 1990 Sep 7–11. Liverpool: E & FN Spon, 1990: 3–11Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Craig Jr AB, Skehan PL, Pawelczyk JA, et al. Velocity, stroke rate, and distance per stroke during elite swimming competition. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1985 Dec; 17 (6): 625–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Wakayoshi K, Yoshida T, Ikuta Y, et al. Adaptations to six months of aerobic swim training: changes in velocity, stroke rate, stroke length and blood lactate. Int J Sports Med 1993 Oct; 14 (7): 368–72PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine and Department of Circulation and Medical ImagingFaculty of Medicine, NTNUTrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations