Long Axis and Short Axis Dryland Exercises

This week’s Speedo Tip of the Week comes from Dr. David Swensen, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and an assistant coach for the YMCA of the North Shore in Beverly, Mass. Swensen offers some specific dryland exercises for long axis and short axis strokes.


Swensen’s Tip:

If we divide the four competitive strokes into short axis (butterfly and breaststroke) and long axis (freestyle and backstroke), it is easier to identify exercises that will affect these strokes.


Two exercises to help improve the hinge movement in your hips in the short axis strokes include the knee tuck and front pike exercises.


Knee Tuck: Using a gym ball, start in a push-up position with the ball under your shins. Tighten your abdominals by trying to pull in your bellybutton, and then pull your knees up toward your chest, letting the ball roll under your lower legs and returning to the starting position.


Front Pike: Start this exercise in the plank position with the ball under your ankles. Keep your back and your knees straight and bend at your hips, raising your buttocks up into the air, pulling your toes onto the ball. Hold and then return to the starting position.


For long axis (freestyle and backstroke) exercises, the gym ball is also very beneficial:


Torso Twist: Start in the push-up position with the ball under your shins. Twist your hips to roll the ball in one direction, and then back the other direction. Control the motion using your abdominal muscles and do not bend your hips. Keep your spine in line and your eyes and chest facing the ground. 


Side Bridge/rotation Exercise: Start in the push-up position. Keeping your body in line, turn your body to the side, holding yourself up with the bottom arm and stretching your top arm straight into the air. You should look like a “T” leaning on its side. Hold this position for several seconds, return to the start position, and repeat to the other side.

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