Do it right!

Being obsessed with the housing market and property prices, it’s perhaps no surprise that the British love DIY projects. According to ‘official statistics’, more than one in three homeowners now spend over £2,000 a year on home improvements. But all is not rosy in the DIY garden because stats also show that nearly one half of all households have unfinished DIY projects, and of these over half of the outstanding jobs (57%) were started over 3 months ago!

The most popular reasons given for the slow pace of DIY projects include “Haven’t got round to it yet”, “It turned out more expensive than we thought” and “Haven’t had enough spare time”. A less popular reason – but one that is more likely to be true – is “It turned out to be more difficult that I thought!” This is a particularly interesting one because it turns out that over 20% of British men claim they can do DIY jobs better than any professional…

Bad workman and his tools

Across the nation, hundreds of DIY stores now offer a vast array of tradesman’s tools to the great British public. Cordless power drills and screwdrivers, electric saws and planers, sanders, grinders and cement mixers – it’s easy to understand why some DIY heroes suddenly see themselves as equal or superior to time-served tradesmen. But as any tradesman will tell you, owning the right tools is one thing – having the skill and knowledge to use them effectively is another!

For athletes, there’s a strong parallel here with training. Most modern gyms are packed to the rafters with hi-tech training equipment that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. In the pursuit of improved strength – which we know can dramatically enhance sport performance – it’s natural to assume that any kind of strength training performed with good equipment will yield great results.

However, unless the right techniques and training principles are applied, this is unlikely to be the case, and nowhere is this truer than with swimming. Although ‘dry-land’ training is popular with swimmers (and swimming coaches) as a method of improving strength, many swimmers are disappointed to discover that the strength gains achieved in the gym don’t translate into better swimming performance.

This is topic that we have discussed in depth in Peak Performance. In one article, performance coach James Marshall explains why many dry-land strength training programmes don’t result in improved swimming performance, or reduce injury rates in the water. The key is specificity, and James’ article goes onto to explain how this aspect can be addressed.

His article also provides a swimming-specific training plan – one which not only targets the key muscles, but also recruits muscle fibres in a swimming-specific manner. Importantly, he then shows how dry-land training can be seamlessly integrated into pool training for superior results. The message is clear: it’s not the equipment that counts, it’s what you do with it that really matters – something many DIY enthusiasts would do well to remember!

Andrew Hamilton, Peak Performance editor

Read James’ article in full here and start making dramatic improvements to your swimming performance!

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