By Mike Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S
Muscles Trained: Lower Body and Core
Lower Body and Core
Importance to Swimmers: By requiring a unique combination of lower body stability and mobility, this challenging drill helps improve flexibility of the groin, while increasing both core and lower body strength.
Execution: Stand holding a light kettlebell, dumbbell, or medicine ball at about chest height, with your arms tucked vertically underneath it. With your feet together and toes pointed forward, begin by stepping out with your right leg at a forty-five degree angle to your body. As your foot is coming into contact with the ground, bend both knees and "drop" into your hips. In the bottom position your thighs should be parallel to the ground, with your knees lined up over your feet. Pause for a second and then press back up to the starting position and repeat to the other side. Continue until you've done 6-8 reps with each side.
Proper knee alignment is crucial here. Make sure that your knees line up over your feet so that your knees don't "pinch in" towards each other, as this can place a lot of stress on the medial aspect of the knee. If you find that your knees do pinch in, you probably have tight inner thighs, and/or weak glutes.
I find the best way to accomplish this is by using a clock reference when doing the drill. Meaning that in the starting position your toes are facing twelve o'clock. When you step out to your right, step out at about a forty-five degree angle, or towards four o'clock. Then, when you step out with your left foot, aim towards eight o'clock. As you're stepping, you have to make sure that your front foot stays pointed forward towards twelve o'clock and doesn't rotate with you.
Keep your chest out and your back flat when in the bottom position. If your back rounds in the bottom position it's probably indicative of tight hamstrings and glutes.
Avoid bouncing or jerking to get out of the bottom position, as it places you under a pretty intense stretch.
Feel free to start with just your own body weight and work up to using some added resistance as you become stronger.