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12.05.2017 | Systematic Review | Ausgabe 11/2017

Sports Medicine 11/2017

The Impact of Resistance Training on Swimming Performance: A Systematic Review

Sports Medicine > Ausgabe 11/2017
Emmet Crowley, Andrew J. Harrison, Mark Lyons



The majority of propulsive forces in swimming are produced from the upper body, with strong correlations between upper body strength and sprint performance. There are significant gaps in the literature relating to the impact of resistance training on swimming performance, specifically the transfer to swimming performance.


The aims of this systematic literature review are to (1) explore the transfer of resistance-training modalities to swimming performance, and (2) examine the effects of resistance training on technical aspects of swimming.


Four online databases were searched with the following inclusion criteria: (1) journal articles with outcome measures related to swimming performance, and (2) competitive swimmers participating in a structured resistance-training programme. Exclusion criteria were (1) participants with a mean age <16 years; (2) untrained, novice, masters and paraplegic swimmers; (3) triathletes and waterpolo players; (4) swimmers with injuries or illness; and (5) studies of starts and turns specifically. Data were extracted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was applied.


For optimal transfer, specific, low-volume, high-velocity/force resistance-training programmes are optimal. Stroke length is best achieved through resistance training with low repetitions at a high velocity/force. Resisted swims are the most appropriate training modality for improving stroke rate.


Future research is needed with respect to the effects of long-term resistance-training interventions on both technical parameters of swimming and overall swimming performance. The results of such work will be highly informative for the scientific community, coaches and athletes.

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