LAND-TRAINING MIGHT NOT HALT LOSS OF SWIMMING STRENGTH IN A "HARD TRAINING" PROGRAM

Havriluk, R, (2013). Seasonal variations in swimming force and training adaptation. Journal of Swimming Research, 21, pp. 8.

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[Editor's note #1. The first part of this abstract is the same as that in the previous posting. What is original here is the second editor's note.]

[Editor's Note (original): This study is not of acceptable scientific research design. It is commonly called a "pre-experiment group design" because the absence of a control group does not allow one to rule-out all possible causes of phenomena other than those of interest to the researcher. The best that can be attributed to this set of observations is that hypotheses are suggested when there appears to be something affecting the dependent variable(s).]

This study assessed whether seasonal hand-force variations provided information for adjusting the workload of national caliber swimmers (N = 9) to maximize the training effect. Ss practiced with a team known for training with a substantial workload ("hard training"). Ss were tested seven times over an eight-month season. The average hand-force over a 10-m swim at maximum swimming velocity was calculated for each trial.

All Ss had depressed hand-force values in the middle of the season compared to the baseline (the beginning of the season). Force values were elevated at the end of the season when compared to the middle of the season. However, only five of the nine swimmers (55%) had a higher force value at the end of the season when compared to the value initially obtained before the eight month's of "hard" training.

Speculation. The workload might be described as being too severe and possibly did not allow a substantial proportion of swimmers to recover enough to improve performance at the end of the observation period. Periodic hand-force testing could provide feedback about training adaptation, both to optimize performance and minimize the risk of illness and injury. A control group in subsequent studies needs to be used to make reliable inferences about observed phenomena.

[Editor's note #2. This writer questioned the author of this article about any possible land-training that occurred across the eight months of the study. He replied: "Iím sure the swimmers participated in strength training, but I canít give you specifics. Although Iím pretty sure they used swim benches (in addition to a variety of weight machines), I doubt that technique was instructed and supervised during the strength training sessions. The strength training may only have contributed to excess fatigue."

What can be deduced from this testimony is that land-training did not affect swimming-strength training in any demonstrable way. Land-training appears to have failed to preserve swimming strength. Thus, a big time-consuming part of the study-group's swimming training would seem to have been irrelevant. The Specificity of Training Principle is demonstrated. It is wrong to assert that land-training will improve pool-training unless the effects of "hard" pool-training are at least counterbalanced.

There is the possibility that land-training was beneficial, although published research does not support such an hypothesis. If land-training was beneficial then the loss in swimming strength would have been much greater than reported in the study. Only good research will answer such a question but since many resistance-training programs have not been associated with swimmer performance improvements, this speculation is highly unlikely.

This is but one more illustration of the irrelevance of land-training and "strength exercises" for swimming training.

This editor is grateful to Dr. Havriluk for sharing his observations in a most objective manner.]

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