Thursday, July 25, 2013

Band Swimming: Building Strength While Learning About Your Stroke and Body Position

Looking for a new way to improve your body position and strength in the water? Try implementing a band strength drill into your weekly workout routine. For those of you who don’t know, a band is simply a rope or race belt that you strap around your ankles, limiting you from kicking. Restraining your kick whilst pulling  builds shoulder and core strength while also teaching you at least three things: optimal body position, optimal balance, and optimal stroke engagement.

First, it teaches you optimal body position. If you do not maintain a streamlined position while engaging your core muscles, the water pushing against your chest, abdomen, and legs will slow you down. This will ultimately prevent you from getting to the other side of the pool.

Second, it teaches you to optimize your balance in the water by forcing your legs to remain streamlined. Many swimmers scissor kick when they breathe. Scissor kicking catches an enormous amount of water resistance, slowing swimmers down. According to Swim Smooth (, the scissor kick is often caused by an imbalance in your stoke. Swimming with the band teaches you to keep your legs together and behind you while requiring you to balance by using your upper body.      

Third, band swimming lets you know if you are pushing down during the catch part of your stoke. If you push down towards the bottom of the pool rather than back towards the wall of which you pushed off, your body will act like a see-saw: you will push your head up while your legs sink to the bottom of the pool. Again, you will catch a lot of resistance, making it much harder to swim to the other end of the pool. If you find that you are pushing down, allow your hand to slip through the water more before engaging, or using your muscles to put energy into the water. 

Note that band swimming puts pressure on your shoulders, especially if you are pushing down towards the bottom of the pool. Be cautious when taking your first stokes and build your way up to longer efforts. Those who have had shoulder injuries in the past should use extra caution.

Try this workout:

Warm-up: 4x200 (swim, kick, pull with buoy and band, swim)

Main set:
Band only, no buoy swim: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Freestyle: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Band only, no buoy swim: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)
Freestyle: 5x50 (30 seconds rest at the wall)

Cool-Down: 200 choice

For more on band swimming in regards to the rhythm and timing of your stroke, see this article:

For a video on band swimming, see this youtube video:

Contact me if you have any questions or comments: 

Jon Fecik
USA Triathlon Coach