The Results of Dryland Training
This athlete came to jTOEST to train as a Junior Master Swimmer after having swam on a Burlington age group swim team for 3-4 years (with the Burlington Aquatic Devilrays | aka BAD). Despite years of swim training and racing, despite hundreds of hours in the pool, it is clear based on the before images that sport specific training alone (as in just swimming alone) is insufficient to build an athlete to their potential. Without dryland training an athlete cannot achieve their potential because it is in dryland where athletes build their core strength, core flexibility, and core control (i.e. agility, balance, and coordination). Case in point, 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist UK swimmer Adam Peaty who has set 10 World Records across the 50 & 100 BR events – he currently holds both records (50BR – 25.95secs, 100BR – 57.10secs) – shares in several Youtube videos that his daily training routine includes no less than 2hrs of dryland training.
Every athlete seeking their potential performs not only sport specific training, but dedicates considerable time to dryland training.
The before images of this athlete were taken in Sept 2017, and the after images were taken in May 2018 – a period of 8 months where dryland training was performed 2x/week. Approximately 12 months after the before images (i.e. Sep 2018), a video of the athlete performing back squats was taken and was reformatted into a gif image (see below). The change in core strength, flexibility and control are clear, and what is equally clear is the change in the athletes presence, self image, and confidence as spoken through their body language.
Approximately 12 months after the before pictures above were taken, this athlete who continued dryland training throughout the summer of 2018, upon returning to TOETT dryland in the fall decided to test themselves by squatting 65lbs. It is important to note that in TOETT dryland with core control, flexibility and strength being the focus, the weight used in the majority of training is only the athlete’s own body weight, only occasionally are actual weights used. When weights are used, they are kept to a minimum (i.e. <15lbs) especially for our tween and teen athletes. What this reveals is that true power, true strength, and true endurance reside: in the core.
The power that is unleashed in an athlete when they develop their core is demonstrated by this athlete being able to squat 65lbs repeatedly yet never once training to squat a weight greater than 10lbs, not even once before attempting 65lbs. In addition, review again the before images and you will see that due to a lack of core training, 12months ago this athlete didn’t even have the flexibility in his joints (despite being a teen) to do a proper full squat without weight.
The athlete attempted this weight independently… there was no push from anyone for this athlete to attempt performing squats with this weight. The athlete on their own felt strong enough, felt powerful enough, felt confident to give it a go. Imagine the value of this development and this achievement in self belief and how this has translated beyond sport and into school, at home, into everyday life for this athlete. Now consider the value that dryland training could have for your son or daughter. This is the true value of proper healthy training! These are the outcomes that athletes and parents of athletes should be expecting from any program: real success flows beyond sport and into all areas of life of the athlete, it provides them the tools to truly succeed.
Masters Athletes Need Dryland Training Too
Dryland training is not only appropriate for junior age group athletes, its appropriate for athletes of all ages and levels. In the images below, the athlete is a masters swimmer and is the 2018 Masters Swimming Ontario [MSO] Provincial Age Group Champion in the 100 FLY, 200 FLY and 800 FR events and is the MSO Record Holder for Short Course Yards (W40-44 age cat) in the 100 Individual Medley (IM), the 100 FLY and 200 FLY events. These before and after images were also taken approximately 8months apart with dryland training performed 1x/week. You can imagine how this athlete, coach and the entire team are excited to watch this athlete pursue additional records and championships in the years to come now with a core that is even more dynamic.
How Dryland Translates into Sport Specific Technique
Look at the images of the athletes above and now consider the following application of dryland to sport…
- In swimming, in the stroke of Butterfly the entry position requires the shoulder blades to retract behind the head to place the arms into an appropriate position for the ‘Entry’ and ‘Catch’ phases of the stroke. This shoulder blade retraction is equally required in the strokes of Freestyle and Backstroke. Full elbow extension when the shoulder is fully extended and the shoulder blades retracted is required in order to maximize stroke length, any tightness in the upper extremity will immediately reduce not only stroke length, but peak power potential, plus it will fatigue the athlete far sooner. Ankle flexibility is required to give swimmers the snap at the terminus of each kick, any lack in ankle flexibility results in a weak and effortful kick that fails to provide any propulsion or rotation to the swimmer. Knee and hip flexibility are equally required so that swimmers can translate power generated in their core out to the furthest points of the lower extremities.
- In cycling, a squat that is able to move throughout the full range of motion of the hips, knees and ankles is needed in order for the pedal stroke to be powerful. If there are limitations in any of these joints, then the body will be forced to seek that range and it will do so by forcing movement into the lumbar spine, the thoracic spine, or it will result in aberrant pedal strokes (e.g. a stroke where the knees come out wide). In any case, the inefficiency of the stroke will result in reduced power and increased fatigue irrespective of how much the athlete trains. In addition, a lack of full range of motion in the lower extremities will limit the cyclists ability to modulate their cadence. Typically this results in cyclists who are grinders… unable to lift their cadence out of the low 80s, sometimes not even out of the 70s. Considering that top UCI World Tour level cyclists like Chris Froome and Alberto Contador easily ride for hours at cadences in the 90s and low 100s, a lack of cadence will limit the potential of any cyclist no matter whether they ride MTBs, compete in Time Trials or triathlons, or are roadies.
- In running, a squat that is able to move throughout the full range of motion of the hips, knees and ankles is needed in order for the stride to be long, powerful and for the runner to be able to achieve proper turnover. Limited ankle, knee and hip movement will increase the exertion level of the athlete forcing them to attempt to compensate for a short stiff stride with a higher cadence; however, moving stiff joints faster will only further fatigue the athlete resulting in running being excruciatingly uncomfortable with the consequences being a high risk of injury, low recovery from training, racing and of course from injury. Limited range will also limit the athlete’s ability to modulate their stride to adjust to variations in terrain: uphills and downhills become excessively difficult and off-road running a disaster as the added demands of balance are placed onto an athlete who is already maxed out when running on flat and firm surfaces.