Perfecting Swimming Stroke Technique

Swimming, like many sports, is reliant on your body mechanics.

swimstrokeIf your body is not exactly symmetrical, or if you have one side stronger or more dominant that the other – as many of us do – then you’re going to have to work harder on perfecting your stroke technique.

Even though there are swimming aids out there like pull-buoys that help keep your hips elevated in the water, when you’re competing, it’s just you and your body and the years of training you’ve put into the sport that will pull you through.

One thing that will help with balance and staying focused is head position. In the water, your body should assume the same position as if you were standing, only horizontal. Therefore, your head position is relatively neutral and your focus will be looking down. The key here is to be aware of what’s coming up six feet in front of you. This will help keep you swimming in a straight line and stop you from drifting over into your competitor’s lane. The more aligned your body is, the more efficient you will be in the water, as no time will be wasted in correcting body position once you’re moving with great speed through the water.

Another important factor is your hand entry position into the water. Your fingers enter the water first at the halfway point between a full arm extension and the top of your head. Keeping your hand in line with your shoulder, work towards a 170° extension of the elbow at the top of your stroke. At this point, you want to flex your wrist at 30° before you pull back, using the elbow to drive this motion. Watch out for dropped elbows – one of the hardest techniques to master – keep your elbows set high and this will drive your pull back with more power and efficiency. You can use cables/pulleys, straps or resistance bands to perfect this move.

Spend some time focusing on each component of stroke technique before moving onto the next. So, practice some drills, using only your legs to propel you through the water, while you focus on body position, head position and where your eyes are focused. Once you’ve mastered this, practice hand entry position and a 170° extension of the elbow before moving onto set elbows and wrists and pullback. This will help you perfect each stage of stroke technique without carrying any mistakes into the next stage of your stroke technique.


Building Strong Legs for Skiers

Skiing is one of those sports that requires a combination of stamina and endurance, and quick precision moves.

Building strong skiers legsIn addition to regular strength, endurance and flexibility training, the best form of conditioning a skier can do off the slopes is plyometrics. Based on a series of jumping exercises, this explosive type of exercise trains muscles to contract faster and more forcefully, adding power and speed to your performance.

Plyometrics are a demanding way to train and places a tremendous amount of strain on joints and major muscle groups, especially the back and knees, and is not recommended for beginners. It is a physically demanding exercise that is ideal for athletes who have built up the strength, flexibility and balance to handle the demand. Once you’re at an advanced enough stage, plyometrics can be beneficial in preventing injury and improving overall performance. Please also take note that women are more susceptible to ACL injuries than men and should exercise extreme precaution.

Balance is the key to being a good skier and is a skill that can be developed with the use of a balance or wobble board. Having good balance for a skier means that your upper body is free to launch into those powerful push-offs coming out of turns and off moguls. Balance will add confidence to your game and allows for better grip in the snow and a more intuitive approach to the terrain. It goes without saying that a strong core is a must for high performance skiing.


If you’re not used to balancing on one leg, now is a good time to start practising. Using a pillow or balance board, practice balancing on one leg on the board without moving or falling over. Make sure you maintain proper alignment, keeping your core muscles flexed, and focus on your breathing. Once you feel comfortable with this move, try balancing on one foot on the board. Now you’re ready for the next move.

Round the Clock

Balancing on one leg on the floor, powerfully push yourself out as far as you can, imagining that you are standing at the centre of a clock, and hop back to centre again. Work your way through all the numbers, starting with 12, moving in a clockwise direction. When you’ve completed the circle, start again with the other foot.

Balancing Balls

With the aid of an eight-pound medicine ball, kneel on a fitness ball while holding the medicine ball and try to maintain your balance without moving. Again, focus on keeping those abs flexed and concentrate on your breathing to help with balance.

The next step is without the medicine ball. Try standing on the fitness ball without falling over. Gradually, add the medicine ball, so you’re standing on the fitness ball while holding the medicine ball. Having a friend spot you might be a good idea. When you get really good, practice jumping onto the ball from the floor, first without the medicine ball, then with the ball. First practice this move by jumping on stairs, a bench or chair (make sure it’s on a carpet or non-slippery surface).

Squat Jumps

Squatting down so that you can touch the ground, spring up as high as you can, land lightly on your feet and back into the squat for the next jump. Repeat about 10 times. Now you’re ready for lateral jumps.

Lateral Jumps

It’s a good idea to start by doing a few side-to-side stepping exercises before launching into this powerful move. Start by using a piece of tape, string or ski pole on the ground. Standing on one side of the marker, squat slightly and spring over the line landing back in a squat. Continue with these jumps for one full minute. When you’re ready to progress, change the marker for an obstacle like a shoe box, hockey bag or bench. Jump side to side and over the obstacle, just like before.

Power Hops

First practice this move by stepping off a stair and landing on two feet, before progressing onto one foot. For the power hops, start by standing on a bench or a 12- to 18-inch-high, sturdy box. Step off onto one foot and immediately jump up as high as you can, landing on the floor on the same foot. Repeat for one full minute and then change legs. When you’re ready to progress, increase the height of the bench or box.


Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man Workout

Robert Downey Jr takes his fitness regimen seriously, even when he’s not training for a movie role.

Robert Downey Jr Iron Man WorkoutHe has used Yoga with its meditative powers to help him recover from drug addiction and practices Wing Chun for a complete and balanced physical, mental and spiritual workout.

Five months prior to filming, Downey Jr focused on barbell training to get him up to speed and to condition his body to handle the next gruelling segment of this workout regimen.

To keep the star motivated and to match his unconventional personality, Bose designed a program that involved kettlebells, Indian club swinging, sledge hammers, fire hoses, sled pulls and a wheel barrow. Not exactly the route you’d expect for a mutli-million-dollar celebrity, but Downey Jr was bored with his regular routine and needed a refreshing change.

If I have to get underneath a bench press or a squat, I’m going to shoot myself. I just don’t have the motivation.

After losing weight for his role in Sherlock Holmes and dropping down to 151 lb, Downey Jr’s challenge was to add muscle strength without bulking up too much. Increasing his caloric intake, eating 6 protein-rich meals a day and using protein powders for muscle building mass, Downey Jr put on 25 lb of muscle in just four weeks, while he was shooting Iron Man.

The Iron Man Workout

  • Kettlebell training with an emphasis on throws to strengthen the glutes and train your hip snap.
  • Indian club swinging – like kettlebells but much larger. This is good training for martial arts, as a lot of the movements mimic those of martial arts.
  • Meels – like club swinging but much bigger and heavier for superior upper body strength training.
  • Two Fire Hoses – one filled with water, one filled with sand for added weight and difficulty. Standing at the end of the extended fire hose, the trick is to whip the hose like you’re trying to straighten it out. This will spike your heart rate to the maximum in 0 to 10 seconds.
  • Sled Pulls – pulling in a weight plate tethered to a rope from a great distance.
  • SUV Tires – picking up and throwing these huge tires incorporates squatting and the throwing/push muscles of the upper body.
  • Sledgehammers – hammering on an old tractor tire with 4 – 20 lb sledgehammers helps to train the entire body from the legs, back, arms and shoulders and introduces a different range of motion; therefore, incorporating a different group of muscles.
  • Wheelbarrows – loading up a wheelbarrow with 600 – 700 lb weight plates, Downey Jr had to navigate an obstacle course, keeping the wheelbarrow on course and upright.

Check out this club swinging workout and remember that all of these training methods require you to be in tip-top shape. Anybody with shoulder injuries should never try these exercises. Your best bet is to seek the counsel of a certified professional trainer:

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM

Add Inches to Your Chest

Intense training for chiseled, sexy pecs.

How to add inches to your chestA large, deep barreled chest is the envy of every guy and something that most serious weight trainers work hard to achieve. Knowing how to get there is part of the battle and can easily be achieved by following the right workout and supplement routine.

For those chest and triceps training days, this workout program will be sure to give you the kind of chest you desire. Make sure you use an appropriate weight, so you can complete three sets of 10 reps or more. Ensure you are using proper technique and always warm up before exercising.

Before you start, find yourself a reputable, high performance, anabolic bodybuilding supplement, something that contains whey protein, and take this one to two hours before you work out. Include a glutamine supplement with 8 oz of milk and you’ll be fired up and ready to go.

Cable Crossovers

3 sets/12 reps
Stand in the middle of the two pulleys with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Grab one pulley at a time and bring your arms out to the side so they are parallel to the ground. Bending slightly at the waist, sucking in your abs, bring your arms together in an arc until your knuckles nearly touch. Repeat 10 or 12 times.

Medicine Ball Superman Push-ups

3 sets/15 reps
You’ll need Superman strength for this exercise, but you’ll get great definition and separation between both pecs. Using a medium-sized medicine ball, lie face down with your arms stretched out in front of you like Superman, with your hands on the medicine ball. Keeping your arms, raise your chest up off the floor like a push-up and reverse to repeat for 15 times. For a harder workout, use a smaller medicine ball. Watch your lower back on this one and try not to arch it too much.

Incline Dumbbell Flies

3 sets/12 reps
Set up a bench in a 45° incline position. Starting with the arms extended to the side with a slight bend in the elbow, bring the dumbbells together in an arc until they nearly touch and reverse. Repeat for 12 reps.

Close-Grip Bench Press

3 sets/10 reps
Lying on a flat bench, position your hands on the barbell, so they are slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Lower the bar six inches from your chest and press out, extending your arms without locking your elbows or bending your wrists for 10 reps. Repeat.
Make sure you observe the five points of contact rule at all times: two hands on the bar, two feet on the ground, and back flat on the bench. Use those abs to keep your back flat on the bench during your press and get someone to spot you.

Unilateral Dumbbell Press

3 sets/10 reps
Lying on a flat bench, with dumbbells horizontal into your chest, press out one arm at a time, pausing with each extension without locking your elbows. Then repeat with the other arm for one rep. Repeat for 10 reps. This exercise also helps to build up your stabilizer muscles to give you more strength and precision in your moves.

Training Secrets of an Olympic Swimmer

training secrets of an olympic swimmerBuilding strength, perfecting body mechanics and technique.

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.

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.