Dryland is an integral part of our swim training. A solid dryland program allows our swimmers to produce more Force and to have increased Power (capacity). Perhaps just as important, Dryland provides our swimmers with a solid foundation of both durability and adaptability that can be relied upon in the pool. For the sake of clarity, we divide “Dryland” into two separate categories – Strength and Conditioning. For the “Strength” component we strive to exploit the Force curve (F = m x a, Force = mass times acceleration) and most often focus on lifting heavy and/or lifting fast. For the “Conditioning” component we strive to exploit the Power formula (P = w/t, Power = work over time) and focus most of our deck-based (body weight/med ball/etc) conditioning on timed sets with rep goals per set (work per time). Time-based training not only allows us to work together as a team, but also allows us to complete all of the training we want to accomplish in a given window of time. We do combine our training at times and do timed sets that have us lifting at a given % with a rep goal, combined with fast body weight movements… and this training is brutal and confined mostly to Pre-Season training and perhaps the focus of a later article.
A quick note before we get to the meat of this article… We introduce dryland into our club practices early in our swimmers programming, starting with one day per week of deck-based dryland for our middle group (age 10 +/-), progress them to 2 days per week, and then gradually add in lifting components as they move from Middle School to High School. Separating swimming and dryland workouts matters less at the lower levels, and we get dryland sessions in wherever they fit best for any not yet in HS. By the time our swimmers are in High School, it is our goal to have them know what is expected of them and to be able to progress toward team standards in both Strength and Conditioning.
The following table illustrates a typical HS Club season template for our Strength and Conditioning program. The general timeline in the heading row can be reduced for a shorter HS season, or expanded for a somewhat longer college season. As well, you could have post-season running directly into pre-season (overlap) and attempt a double-peak in one year if your season’s timing allows. We account for our work through the Power and Force equations, using work and time (time-based training) for most of our conditioning, and using mass and/or acceleration for most of our lifting. We adjust volume and intensity within the framework below, gradually increasing volume first and then gradually increasing intensity as we drop volume – the base of which is largely accounted for in the table below. Again, we lift both heavy and fast (both ends of the Force curve) year-round. There is rarely, if ever, a dryland session that does not include speed in either lifting or conditioning, or both. We will define our parameters as follows:
WorkTotal Reps, Reps per Set
TimeTotal Time, Time per Set
Mass% of 1rm (one rep max)
Acceleration Speed of the concentric phase of lift(s)