Out of the pool, Olympic swimmers such as Michael Phelps do these strength and conditioning exercises to maximise their performance. These tips are just in time for REAL Swim

DAC (NS) Mohammed Azhar bin Yusof explains how simple moves, combined with the use of equipment, can help you to achieve better IPPT results.

TEXT: ALYWIN CHEW

Walking lunge with twist

What to do: Hold a weight, preferably a medicine ball or kettlebell, in front of you with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Proceed to perform a lunge, starting with your right leg. Ensure that your knee is in line with your toes. Turn your upper body to the right before rotating it again to face the front. Push your right foot to the ground and pull yourself back to a standing position. Repeat with the other side. Perform 10 reps of 2 sets.

Azhar says: “This exercise works the core and the gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings. When performed correctly, it improves lower limb strength and core stability muscles – especially when a medicine ball or kettlebell is used. Strength gains here will lead to better performance in the push-up and run tests.”

Lat pull-downs

What to do: Find a pull-down machine in the gym and select a comfortable weight. For beginners, start with an amount that is half your body weight. Adjust if you feel that it is too light. Hold the bar, palms facing forward, arms spaced a little wider than shoulder width. Lean backwards slightly (about 30 degrees), making sure that your arms are straightened. This is your starting position. Take a breath and exhale as you pull the bar, squeezing your shoulder blades together as the bar reaches chest level. Slowly return to starting position. Perform 10 reps for 3 sets.

Azhar says:  “This workout primarily targets the latissimus dorsi and the biceps. While the pull-up is no longer part of IPPT, there are carry-over effects to overall good posture that will help you with your push-ups and running form.”

Jumping rope

What to do: To get a good cardio workout, don’t just skip leisurely. Complete as many repetitions as you can within a minute before resting for 30 seconds. Repeat this for 5 sets. You can also mix things up by varying the way you jump – side to side, back and forth, single-leg hops. For endurance training, play your favourite song and don’t stop till it ends. You’ll be surprised at how exhausting this workout can be.

Azhar says: “When performed over a sustained period of time, jumping rope gives you a good cardiovascular workout. It works the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, abdominals, forearms and deltoids. It also improves agility and hand-eye coordination. The forefoot landing in jumping rope encourages good foot landing when running. The improved cardiovascular fitness will in turn improve your 2.4km timing.”

Chin-up burpee

What to do: Stand upright and squat beneath a chin-up bar, ensuring your palms touch the floor. Kick your feet backwards to get into a push-up position. Perform a push-up, bring your legs forward again so you are back in the squatting position. Jump straight up and grab the chin-up bar, pulling yourself up till the chin is above the bar. Perform 8 reps for 3 sets. Ensure your back is straight when performing the push-ups and chin-ups, and be sure to control your landing.

Azhar says: “This exercise is strength and power training combined. The burpee works the chest, core, quadriceps, gluteals and hamstrings. The jump at the end of the burpee develops power in the legs, while the chin-up works the latissimus dorsi and the biceps. The strength and power gains in the core and leg muscles translate to improved performances in the push-ups and run.”