Are push ups good for swimming?
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on October 9th, 2009

This query was posted on the TI Discussion Forum by Jan

Hello fellow TI swimmers,
As a swimmer, I also like to supplement my swimming with other activities. A while ago I decided to try push ups to build upper body strength. Currently I can do about 3 x 25 and I’m considering a 100 push ups challenge I found on the internet.

Before I go too far I want to ask if it’s possible that doing push ups might hurt my swimming? Or might it even help a bit? I only do push ups on my non swimming days, because I found out that doing them every day wears out my arms and thus ruins my swimming. By the way I do stretch afterwards to maintain fleixibility.

My reply:

Push ups are one of my favorite exercises. They strengthen the chest and shoulders, but can also be very good for scapular, shoulder and core stabilization.  They’re hard to beat for convenience and benefit.

I’ve done all of the following variations:
1) While recovering from shoulder surgery, and a shoulder separation, I  began to activate those muscles initially with an inclined version. I started by leaning against a wall, with my feet about 30 inches away slowly leaned in until my nose touched the wall, then pushed away. As I gained strength, I moved gradually to slightly more horizontal positions – against a countertop, the back of a sofa, etc.  You can also do them from your knees. These are good variations for those who lack the strength to do the standard variation with good form. It’s best to imprint impeccable form in muscle memory with a less challenging variation, then gradually increase the load on your muscles.
2) Forearm pushups. Rest your forearms on the floor — it’s least awkward if you close fists and turn thumbs up — and elbows directly under shoulders. Hold hips slightly higher than core. Lower yourself slowly until nose and chin touch the floor, keeping hips from sagging. Raise yourself until your back rounds as much as possible. As you go down and up, feel your blades open and close through their maximum range of motion. These are particularly good for strengthening your rotator cuff.
The next two variations are higher degree of difficulty. If you can do 10 in a row of either, you’re doing well.
3) Using the “Perfect Pushup” device. This allows your hands and forearms to accommodate the movement by rotating inward as you descend. Focus intently on core stability as you fatigue. Feel yourself pushing back up more with core strength than with arm and chest muscles.
4) Feet on stability ball and hands on yoga blocks. Lower slowly to barely touch your nose to the floor. Don’t allow hips to sag. Use core stabilizers to keep the ball from moving under your toes.

One Response to “Are push ups good for swimming?”

  1. great post! I have been searching for a new workout routine in yahoo and I stumbled your blog. I just started a training and I am pretty clueless.

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