Health and Fitness

Studio Pilates Performance Series: Swimming

Improve your stroke and swim time

Pilates can dramatically assist your athletic performance and offers the perfect training complement to swimming, whether your focus is fitness based, competitive or for technical development. Studio Pilates delivers intense, 40 minute workouts on Pilates reformers in a small group environment that feels more like a personal training session, with our world class instructors modifying your moves for maximum gain.

Like swimming, Pilates is a whole-body workout, focusing on strength, endurance, body alignment and breath control. It offers physical and mental fitness and can help reverse some of the problems that specialised sports can create. Each class is scientifically designed by physiotherapists, to ensure safe and considered movements sequenced in a particular way to give you the results you want, fast! We work your body on all planes of movement – sitting, lying and standing – so that the muscles are worked from many different directions, producing a uniform and very deep strength and tone, even without using heavy weights.

Much of a swimmer’s training is focused on the outside musculature, rather than the stabilising system. This leaves a swimmer open to physical misalignments which can add unwanted seconds to competitive time or lead to strains and overuse injuries. Studio Pilates focuses on strengthening and defining a range of muscles beneficial to a swimmer, with stronger glutes, shoulders and core among the main rewards.

Glutes and hamstrings: Most swimmers we train tend to have weaknesses in their glutes and hamstrings. This can cause decreased kicking power in fly, free and backstroke, and sinking into the water when fatigued. Shoulders: The shoulder is one of the more vulnerable joints in swimming, and is highly prone to injury. Shoulder health is incredibly important for all strokes and Pilates teaches the correct use of all the muscles in the shoulder blades and upper back for unhindered performance, in training or competition.

Core: Pilates focuses on the transverse abdominis (TA), an important part of the abdominal wall. In conjunction with the obliques and rectus abdominis, the TA provides great support for the spine, in particular the lower back, helping you train and race with decreased chance of injury. Strengthening your core through Pilates will keep scapula, shoulders, pelvis and spine balanced and aligned, providing a higher, stronger body position in the water, resulting in better hydrodynamics and faster swim speeds, without increased effort. It also helps prevent any ‘snaking’ movements in the water when swimming freestyle, at a fast pace or when under fatigue.

Muscle conditioning: Pilates offers a host of benefits for strength and conditioning. Functional muscle development helps with increased levels of coordination, correct firing patterns for more fluid movement, better balance and alignment in the water and building stamina and power in your swimming stroke. The building of long, lean muscles – without bulk – aids in cutting through the water more efficiently.

Improved breathing: One of the fundamentals of swimming is efficient breathing patterns. Pilates aids in using all available lung capacity, increasing oxygenation and stamina and helping optimise breathing patterns, rhythm and concentration in your swimming.

Flexibility and control: Pilates aids in better flexibility, strength and control in shoulders, arms, legs and hips to improve your swim stroke and assist posture for better balance in the water. A large volume of swimming can place a lot of stress on the joints, especially the shoulders, which can lead to poor stroke mechanics. Shoulder rotation and hip actions, such as kicking, required for most swimming strokes become a lot easier with Pilates training. Pilates also works the body through a greater range of motion than other forms of resistance training, increasing your functional strength specific to swimming.