Ask the Dryland Coach: Static/Dynamic Exercises

By Mike Mejia, M.S, C.S.C.S

Question: I've been making some good progress with my dryland training, but my routine has gotten a little stale lately. Can you recommend some more advanced exercises I can try to help break out of this rut?


James, age 18. San Francisco, California


I've got the perfect solution for breathing some life into your "stale" routine, James. They're called hybrid exercises, but with my own added twist. Traditionally, hybrid exercises have been known as drills that combine multiple movement patterns into one single lift. Olympic lifts like the clean and jerk offer a good example, but so do simpler maneuvers like say a dumbbell lunge with overhead press. My addition to them, and one that I think swimmers will find especially useful, involves holding a static position with one segment of the body, while another works dynamically. This requires a tremendous amount of both core strength and flexibility, while also helping to increase your tolerance to the accumulation of lactic acid.


Be sure to start out using light weight so that you can get the form down. There'll be plenty of time to increase the resistance down the line as you get stronger. Besides, if you're incapable of holding the static position you not only reduce the effectiveness of the exercise, but you also increase your risk of injury.


The Exercises:


Side plank with unilateral reverse fly:


Attach a light to medium resistance band to a sturdy object about 6 to 12 inches off the ground. Position yourself parallel to the anchor point, several feet away, lying on your side. Prop up on your bottom elbow and forearm to get into a side plank position. With the band in held out in front of you with your opposite hand, keep a slight bend in your elbow as you bring your arm back in a wide, arcing movement. In the finish position your arm should be slightly behind your torso, with your elbow still soft and your body holding the side plank position. Pause for a second, then return your arm to the starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps, then switch sides.


Split Squat and unilateral chest press:


Stand with your back to an adjustable cable station (you can also do this exercise with a resistance band attached to a sturdy object) in a split squat position (one foot about 2 1/2 to 3 feet in front of the other). If you right leg is forward, hold the resistance in your left hand, just in front of your chest with your elbow out, away from your body. Begin by dropping down into a split squat by bending both knees. In the bottom position your knees should both be bent approximately 90 degrees with your back knee just a couple of inches off the ground. Holding this position, begin executing a chest press by pushing the resistance out away from you until your arm is straight. Pause for a second and then return to the starting position and repeat for a total of 8-12 reps.


Stability Ball Hip switch:


Position yourself prone, over a stability ball so that your hands are on the ground with your arms straight and hips are on top of the ball. From there, brace your core tight to maintain a neutral spine posture and stabilize yourself with your upper back, arms and shoulders as you twist to one side until you're balancing on your hip pocket and your legs are extended out behind you. Then, use your core to quickly twist until your other hip pocket is now in contact with the ball. Continue until you've done 6 to 8 reps to each side.


Unilateral Romanian dead lift and row:


Grab a light dumbbell with your right hand and stand balancing on your left foot. Begin by keeping your torso long and leaning forward at the waist until your body is almost parallel to the ground. In this position, your right leg should also be extended behind you, as close to being even with the rest of your body as possible. Once you've hit this position, with the right arm held directly beneath your shoulder, keep a slight bend in your left knee as you row the weight up until your elbow slightly passes your torso. Pause for second, then lower and repeat for 8-10 reps, then switch sides).

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