Olympic hopefuls may want to know how to train for swimming like Michael Phelps to increase their chances of going to the next Olympic Summer Games. Training like Michael Phelps includes swimming, weight lifting, running and a lot of dedication. Rest is also an important component of training. Michael Phelps has worked with Bob Bowman as his coach for many years and he has won an astounding 14 gold medals and 2 bronze medals. He trains hard 6 days a week when preparing for a competition.
Michael Phelps has a long torso, which is great for swimming. He also has very long strokes. This helps him add power to each stroke so that he is able to go a longer distance in fewer strokes than many other competitive swimmers. Swimmers can extend their own strokes by practicing reaching further with each stroke. This may feel odd at first, but over time the number of strokes required to go the same distance will decrease, and the speed of swimming will increase.
Swimmers will need to incorporate long swim distances for endurance with shorter distances to practice speed. Incorporate drills that focus on specific areas such as kicking strength. Utilize training tools such as paddles and kickboards to vary the routine and improve strength.
One example of a swimming practice will start with warming up with repetitions of 100 yard distances starting at 1 minute 40 seconds each time and decreasing to 1 minute 20 seconds. Five repetitions are done for each time for a total of 20 repetitions. This is just the warm up.
The warm up is followed by 16 repetitions of 50 yard distances at 55 seconds. These are speed drills. Next come 10 repetitions of 400 yards to practice distance. The next set is 25 repetitions of 100 yards. After the swim practice is finished, Michael will do exercises outside of the pool. These may include a wall sit, corner lunges, assisted pull-ups, Swiss ball bridge, push-ups, v-sits, standing squats, leg extensions, flutter kicks and squat thrusts. This is only one example of a possible work out session. The strokes used will vary as will the distance and repetitions. However, swimming is a daily activity.
Weight lifting is a new component to Michael Phelps training regime. The added strength has definitely improved his times. Weight training for swimmers is a little different than for other sports. Swimming is about speed as well as strength so weight training should emphasize lighter weights with more repetitions. It is important not to do any exercises that will stress the knees or back, causing an injury impacting your ability to swim. Choose weight exercises that emphasize the muscles used in the specific stroke used in competition. For example swimmers who do the freestyle stroke will want to emphasize the shoulders and chest muscles while those that do a butterfly stroke will want to emphasize the biceps as these are used more in this stroke. Adding weight training two or three times a week will help a swimmer add muscle and strength more quickly than swimming alone. Michael Phelps recommends a standing dumbbell press, dumbbell front raise and dumbbell lateral raise for upper body strength.
Weight training is also important for the core and lower body. Increasing leg strength will give more power when kicking off after the flip turn as well as improve strength in the stroke. Seated leg presses are a great weight exercise as the position mimics the same motion as a flip turn.
Weight training should begin with endurance. This means many repetitions at low weights. The second stage of weight training is to add muscle strength. This is done by slowly adding weight while keeping the same number of repetitions. The third stage is speed. This uses the lighter weights again, but the exercises are done at a faster tempo. Finally a strength phase is done again and then the exercises are tapered off right before competition begins. This allows the muscles to repair any small tears or injuries created during the last strength training phase.
Swimming is a very aerobic exercise and cross training with other aerobic exercises will add variety to the training while improving overall performance. Running is one example of an excellent cross training exercise. Michael Phelps does incorporate running into his training regime. Other possible cross training exercises include cross country skiing or biking.
Training like Michael Phelps requires time, dedication and a coach who will be able to guide and instruct the swimmer in proper techniques and training.