USA Swimming Ab Routine

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Whether you're competing in the 50-meter free or the 200-meter IM, you want to flow through the water like a dolphin—not like you've got a hundred-pound anchor around your waist. You can start by chiseling your abdominal muscles to drop any unnecessary baggage around your middle. According to Dan McCarthy, sport performance consultant to USA Swimming, eye-popping abs improve three critical aspects of swimming: "They allow you to have better technique, connect and balance your upper- and lower-body movements, and help you perform more powerful strokes more often." Stressing the importance of volume, technique and rest time, McCarthy explains how the different seasons determine the amount of ab work a swimmer should do.

In-season

Volume and technique: Our ab program begins with low sets and reps. As the season progresses, we increase the volume by adding sets instead of repetitions, because we want to maintain proper technique.
Rest time: We want the athletes to move from one activity to the next with very little rest, so we keep it to 15 seconds.

Competitive season

Volume and technique: During this time, we want to be explosive and technically perfect while cutting down on the volume. Rest time: Since maintenance is our goal, the athletes get more rest—about one minute. The chart outlines standard ab exercises with their respective sets, reps and rest time. McCarthy uses these with his athletes year-round, 2-3 three times a week on the same days as other dry-land training.

Exercise In-Season
Minimum
In-Season
Maximum
Competitive
Hanging
Knee Raises
Sets: 2
Reps: 10
Rest time: 15 sec
Sets: 6
Reps: 10
Rest time: 30 sec
Sets: 3
Reps: 15
Rest time: 1 min
Body
Bridges
Sets: 2
Reps: 10
Hold: 20 sec
Rest time: 15 sec
Sets: 6
Reps: 10
Hold: 45 sec
Rest time: 30 sec
Sets: 3
Reps: 8-10
Hold: 30-45 sec
Rest time: 1 min
Crunches with
and without
medicine ball
Sets: 2
Reps: 25
Rest time: 15 sec
Sets: 6
Reps: 25
Rest time: 30 sec
Sets: 3
Reps: 25
Rest time: 1 min
Body twists with
medicine ball
Sets: 2
Reps: 20
Rest time: 15 sec
Sets: 6
Reps: 20
Rest time: 30 sec
Sets: 3
Reps: 20
Rest time: 1 min

 

 

 


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock