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“Although no research consistently suggests resistance training directly improves swimming, if certain goals are kept in mind, it is likely a mode to benefit swimming performance. Also, if you do decide to lift, swimming prior to resistance training is likely most beneficial to allow maximal performance at swim practice and potentially stress the body more at dry-land to yield greater results (Mullen 2012)”. 

Despite this recommendation, as more research surmounts, further updates are warranted. Luckily, a recent study analyzed the effects of resistance training fatigue on joint biomechanics. Hooper (2013) and researchers from Connecticut had twelve trained male subjects (mean age 24) perform an exhaustive resistance exercise program consisting of:

“75% 1RM was used on each of the 3 lifts; back squat, bench press, and deadlift. The subjects began with 10 repetitions of each lift and then reduced the number consecutively by 1 until they reached only 1 repetition (Hooper 2013)”.

After the fatiguing resistance training protocol, hip and knee kinematics were measured with a body weight squat. The results indicated significant alterations in hip and knee kinematics. These results suggest kinematic alterations do occur after fatiguing resistance training.

One asset of the internet is the ability to instantly update information and alter recommendations when warranted. Overall, the swimming community must improve their ability to obtain information and adjust training practices (if you’re reading this site, then you’ll love the Swimming Science Research Review). This study adds confirmation to the suggestion noted back in December, as

“[m]ovement alterations secondary to resistance training is not ground-breaking information, but it does suggest resistance training prior to swimming may alter joint kinematics. Future studies must confirm this and see how long the kinematic adaptations occur after resistance training (Mullen 2013)”.

Once again, if you are performing exhaustive resistance training (ie CrossFit … which requires a separate post), then perform resistance training after exercise. This does not suggest all resistance training must be done after swimming, as post-activation potentiation (PAP) may improve short-term power output (see tomorrow’s interview with Dr. Fletcher). Moreover, different resistance training intensities must be tested to affirm results with different intensity or dry-land activates.

  1. Hooper DR, Szivak TK, Distefano LJ, Comstock BA, Dunn-Lewis C, Apicella JM, Kelly NA, Creighton BC, Volek JS, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Effects of resistance training fatigue on joint biomechanics.J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jan;27(1):146-53. 
  2. Mullen, GJ. (2012). Should I lift Before or After I swim. Swimming Science. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2013,

By G. John Mullen Doctorate of Physical Therapy founder of the Center of Optimal Restoration, Dochead strength coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, creator of the Swimmer’s Shoulder System, and chief editor of the Swimming Science Research Review.

Dr. John Mullen, DPT, CSCS world-renowned physical therapist and strength coach.
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