Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Developing Strength and Power in the Water Utilizing the PowerRack™

During my time in the sport of swimming, I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best swimming minds in the world.  One of these minds is The Race Club (TRC)’s Gary Hall, Sr.  According to TRC Philosophy; in order to maximize an athlete’s potential, there are five disciplines that need to be incorporated into each athlete’s training plan.  Those five are:

Swim Training    -    Strength Training    -    Recovery    -    Nutrition    -    Mental Training

At Ozaukee Aquatics we utilize the PowerRack™ as a component of the strength side of training equation.  Strength training is more than resistance, weights and dryland.  It is about developing sport-specific strength and transferring it into the water in such a way as to create the least amount of resistance possible while in motion. 

That being said; The PowerRack™ is an excellent resistance tool for not only developing sport-specific strength/power, but quantifying the gains in that power as well.  The general principle being utilized here is Overload.  The principle of overload says that in order to keep making gains from an exercise regimen, you must find a way to make it more difficult as time goes on. 

However before you can successfully implement resistance into a training plan, you must first make sure that your athletes a solid base of Swim Training under their belt.  During the course of a season, there are five major things that we need cover with regard to Swim Training:

Train the athletes to be aware of their body line, body position and feel for the water.

Train the athletes to improve technical proficiency and ability to "swim technically" at slow to moderate speeds.

Train the athlete's ability to kick; both normal and underwater kicking.

Train the athletes to improve their aerobic / anaerobic capacity.

Train the athletes to improve their aerobic / anaerobic utilization, especially during the last four weeks of each season, with the most intense utilization work occurring 14 days out of the season ending championship meet.

It is important that the first four of those points are covered before any type of resistance training tool is implemented into the training plan.  But back to the PowerRack; what makes it a great tool is how easy it is to interpret the data.  The PowerRack utilizes a power ratio where:

Power = Force  x  (Distance / Time)

The weight (in pounds) being used is the force.  The distance is 12.5 yards (max distance that the rack goes).  Time is the average of all repeats in the set.

The above figure is the power ratios we use at OZ.  The change in the ratio over-time is what you use to measure the gain in strength/power.

Thanks for reading,

Harmilee Cousin III
Lead 13-14 Coach / Assistant Senior Coach

For Further Reading:
Blaine Carlson – Power Development Training

Ozaukee Aquatics – PowerRack Test Set

Total Performance, Inc. - PowerRack™