It doesn’t matter how much you train in a day, if you don’t perfect your body mechanics, it won’t make much of a difference to the finish line. For Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, spending more time on stroke mechanics is more important than the 3 to 5 miles twice a day that he puts into his training. The trick is to slow things down and focus on what your body is doing. Keeping straight in the water is essential, especially off the wall. Being streamlined for at least 15 meters off each flip turn, Lochte is able to transition into the stroke with increased momentum and this is key.
“The only way to really work on technique is to swim very slowly and really think about every little thing that you’re doing. How your body is positioned, what your hips are doing, the positioning of your shoulders and hands and feet.”
Body position is also crucial. Lochte recommends using a pull buoy between the legs and concentrate on keeping your stomach above the water during backstroke. Work with the water not against it.
Kicking is Key
Kicking drills are also important to develop strength and body position. The amount of kicking that most elite swimmers do in practice has gone up at least 20 percent in the past few years. Kicking drills will help you build stamina and strength, and improve performance so that you get the most out of your stroke.
That old staple, the kickboard is every swimmer’s best friend. In order to build stamina and prevent exhaustion, a swimmer must have strong legs and the kickboard is the ideal fitness tool. It helps with stability because your arms are still and allows you to focus on your legs.
In addition to his practice in the water, Lochte recognizes the benefits of weight training and the strength it adds to his overall performance. He spends three times a week in the gym and focuses on building core strength.
Every sport benefits from building core strength. This is especially true of an elite swimmer who relies on the agility of their torso to keep them balanced and streamlined in the water. Lochte’s core exercises take up to 45 minutes of his workout, but 20 minutes for a recreational swimmer is enough to add power to your performance. To warm up, Lochte likes to use a medicine ball, then it’s multiple sets of push-ups, followed by 500 abdominal crunches.
No training diet is complete without proper high performance nutrition. For athletes getting enough calories and protein is often a problem. During the peak of his competition, Michael Phelps reportedly consumed 12,000 calories a day. Supplementing a well-balanced diet with protein powders and supplements is the best way to make sure your body gets the proper nutrients it needs. Whey protein and creatine are fast-absorbing and easy to digest and provide concentrated protein formulas that help to increase muscle size and strength, while speeding up recovery.