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Resistance Training as Part of a Junior Swimmers Training Program at B.G.S.

Posted on June 7, 2013 by


Sally Bailey | Director of Athletic Development | Brisbane Grammar School |


The dry-land training component of the B.G.S. Swimming program has been a significant part of the weekly schedule for the past 4 years. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, swimmers participate in a split session which involves 45-60 minutes of dry-land training and 45-60 minutes of a speed-focused swim training session.

The logistics of the session is managed so that one group completes their dry-land training first followed by the swim session, and vice versa. Group allocations are determined by a combination of age group, training experience and group cohesion. The primary objective is to ensure efficient use of space and equipment, translating to a higher quality session with greater capacity to provide more individual attention and coaching. (Please note that the groups change throughout the swimming calendar year to accommodate the G.P.S. requirements.)

The following information summarizes some key objectives, benefits and considerations relating to the dry-land training program, specifically within the context of aspiring to building athletic qualities in junior swimmers.



  1. To establish a foundation of physical characteristics required for swimming, as well as setting a platform for building healthy athletes for life-long involvement in sport and activity.It is widely agreed amongst specialists in long term athletic development, that a child’s participation in sport should emphasise physical preparation and the development of fundamental movement skills (i.e. balance, coordination, strength, mobility) as a basis for more advanced sport-specific movements later in life (Faigenbaum, 1996).
  2. To prescribe programs aimed at improving balance, muscular strength, stability and control, awareness in space and mobility. Research has shown that children respond favourably to resistance training, with significant gains made in muscular strength and muscular endurance (Faigenbaum, 1999). Importantly, these gains have transferred to improved motor skills such as increases in long jump, vertical jump, agility runs and sprinting (Faigenbaum, 1996). For a swimmer, this refers to their explosiveness off the blocks.
  3. To reduce the risk of injury. A recent study on young female soccer players in Norway found that following a structured dynamic warm up which included strengthening type exercises such as squats, plank holds, lunges, plyometric type exercises (i.e. jumping and bounding exercises) resulted in a reduction of both severe and overuse injuries (Soligard, 2008). Such findings have been found in other studies which show that resistance training better prepares young bodies for sport by improving muscle, ligament and tendon strength, increasing bone density as well as developing muscle balance around joints (Faigenbaum, 1996).



To reassure you that an “adult-based” program has not been imposed on the boys’ growing bodies, the following factors have been considered in prescribing the programs:

  • Emotional Maturity: Guidelines regarding expectations and behaviour are emphasised strongly in the twice-weekly sessions so that a healthy training culture is established and nurtured. The swimmers are closely supervised to ensure a safe and enjoyable training environment.
  • Training Experience: Each boy comes to the program with varied training experiences, so we aim to cater for the individual needs of each boy. Boys entering the program are given more basic exercises to learn with a lower number of sets and repetitions, compared to those who, (for example) have been following a program for 6 months.
  • Physical Development: Boys physically mature, develop and grow at such varied rates. We monitor height and weight of the boys regularly to keep track of their growth rates; feedback which is helpful in understanding tolerance of training loads. In addition, boys are measured on a selection of flexibility tests to ensure they have adequate range of motion through key joints to perform certain movements.
  •  Movement Capabilities: The exercise selection (of each program) is founded on the following 5 movement patterns and boys are regularly assessed on their ability to perform these key fundamental movements:
  1. Squat
  2. Single leg squat
  3. Lunge
  4. Push
  5. Pull


Within these movement streams, there are countless variations, modifications and progressions that can be made. An example familiar to everyone would be performing a push-up from the knees (as a modified version) compared to push-ups from the feet (as the standard version) compared to push-ups where the feet are on an unstable surface (as a more challenging progression.)

As boys show commitment to their program, respond positively to the training and demonstrate competence with performing an exercise, their program is adapted accordingly.

High Quality Coaching: Most importantly, the boys are being coached by qualified strength and conditioning specialists with a responsibility of ensuring solid, safe and effective training practices are followed. Our primary focus is on achieving technical competency in performing an exercise before any increase in training load or volume is imposed.

This is no different to the approach taken by swimming coaches when it comes to performance and training adaptation in the pool.


Sally Bailey | Director of Athletic Development | Brisbane Grammar School |



Should you wish to read up further on Resistance Training for Children and Adolescents, please refer to the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association

Should you wish to know the specifics of the programs being delivered to the boys at B.G.S. and how the program is strongly linked within the Athletic Development Program, I would be more than happy to share this information with you.


Faigenbaum et al. (1996) Youth Resistance Training: Position Paper Statement And Literature Review. NSCA.

Faigenbaum et al. (1999) The Effects Of Different Resistance Training Protocols On Muscular Strength And Endurance Development In Children. Pediatrics, Vol 104, Number 1.

Soligard et al. (2008) Comprehensive Warm-Up Programme To Prevent Injuries In Young Female Footballers: Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial. BMJ 2008;337;a2469.

The ASCA Position Stand – Resistance Training for Children and Adolescents (

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