Proof that BIT training has made Exeter Swim Club Stronger
Exeter Swim Club first began using the Body Intensive Trainer (BIT) in May 2016 and, in conjunction with Swim England, we have been monitoring the progress of their swimmers to establish the changes that have been made in strength, speed and endurance.
Suspension bodyweight training using the BIT delivers one of the most effective land training regimes for swimmers. Using bodyweight as resistance it can easily and safely be used by swimmers of all ages (as young as 9) and cater for a wide range of different abilities, building lean muscle, improving stability, developing a strong core and helping to prevent injuries.
Here are the findings of the study into how Exeter have successfully incorporated this type of training within their squads.
Interview with Jo John, Head Coach
1. Why did you decide to introduce suspension bodyweight training for the swimmers?
We needed to increase and improve our provision of land training but because we use a variety of facilities across the city and squads are in different pools, we needed something that would be quite portable. I needed something that would provide a full body work out, where once they mastered the technique, I could target specific muscle groups on different days and give the older stronger swimmers a challenging session. The younger swimmers and those not used to land training needed to concentrate on technique and the BIT allowed them to work exercises such as Squats in a bigger range than they could do without a BIT but with a far better body posture. Novices can start with some basic movements that are still challenging but at the same time there are progressions that mean a strong experienced individual can get great benefit as well.
2. How did the club agree to your needs?
I had no issue with the club agreeing. The committee were aware that I was looking to improve the land training opportunities and why we needed to do that and when I explained how I felt this would work for us they were fully supportive.
3. How easy was it to find suitable space to train?
This was my main concern because we train out of seven different locations and as we only have access to a sports hall at one of those we were constrained by doing what we could do on poolside. This has been one of the main reasons why the BIT’s have worked so well for us, the leisure providers fitted hooks onto poolside which we can attach the BIT’s to and now we do our land work as a full land session before swimming or as part of dry side warm up, or can even include it within a session. The leisure providers have seen what we are trying to achieve and have since offered more facilities with them providing further support generally.
4. How quickly did you start to see results?
We started using them in May 2016 but didn’t start using them fully until the new season in September. Having said that in the early stages I noticed a difference in posture and general technique on land as well as attitude to land training by the end of July.
From September to December 2016 the swimmers were improving body alignment in the water and their body shapes were changing, and measurements we were taking on turn times and underwater speed as well as video analysis showed there were quite significant improvements. However, the real confirmation for me was at the County Championships and despite being tired from hard training, you could see in a race situation, how much stronger they were off the blocks, how much faster and longer their underwater phases were and how much more power they had off the walls.
5. How do the swimmers react to their land training using the BIT?
The swimmers enjoy using the BIT, they know they can work through a bigger range of movements than they could without it and I am not sure they are aware but they work harder when they are using the BIT and with better technique.
6. Was it easy to get the coaching skills into your club?
Ali and Rob came to the club and went through a range of exercises with us and a few swimmers. They showed us how to access the online portal to enable us to have a weekly update of exercises to ensure we had progression and in the first few weeks we had regular phone calls and in the first couple of months we had a few web-ex meetings so that Rob could talk me though the next set of progressions. We had access to a wide range of exercises using the online portal, and could print those off to show the swimmers which helped. Rob and Ali have kept in constant contact, ensuring things are going well and offering further support as and when we need it.
7. Here are some quotes from the swimmers and what they think of the BIT:
“It has improved my upper body strength and helped me engage my core muscles”
“It’s helped me gain a 7 second PB on my 200 freestyle, the exercises have increased
my core strength”
“It allows me to train a wide range of muscle groups with a small amount of equipment”
“It is a different way of working and easy and safe to use”
“It has improved my balance and my core strength with the exercises we do”
“My squat jumps have improved my acceleration and power of my backstroke starts”
“I understand the reason why we do the BIT training work as the exercises work the muscle groups I need for my swimming”
Jo added “I feel that as a club we are now starting to get a group of athletes that are looking fitter and stronger and are looking more powerful. I feel that the emphasis we have put on professionalising the land training in this way has helped them focus more on their own professionalism within the sport.”
As well as our own testing, Swim England have independently tested a large group of swimmers to see the gains over this initial testing period. The results after 6 months showed a significant improvement in rotation times, a more efficient streamline position in the water which is also held for longer, and more power in the water (including faster turn times).
Our own testing on a group of Swimmers revealed a number of improvements including an increase in lean muscle mass and a reduction in body fat. Improvements occurred across all the exercises tested (squats, push ups, burpees, crunches, & standing long jump*). One swimmer who managed 12 full push ups and 20 knee push ups at the start of the testing period improved significantly to 33 full push ups at the end of the test period. All swimmers improved on the standing long jump distance and the amount of Burpees, signifying not only an increase in strength but also cardiovascular & muscular endurance.
(*test conditions – the number of reps for 1 minute per exercise and the average of 3x standing long jumps in a controlled environment focussing on form and technique)
A second independent test done by Swim England in July 2017 revealed that:
1. All swimmers improved their time to 15m from a dive
2. All swimmers improved their turn time
3. 9 out of 11 swimmers where the same or had improved their rotation speed
These significant results have shown the effect that a specific strength training programme using the BIT can do for swimmers and we are excited about rolling this out across the country for all age group and master swim clubs. We have developed an online coaching course for Coaches to develop their skills in delivering suspension bodyweight training programmes. The course provides video demonstrations of each exercise and weekly downloadable programmes catering for all abilities. We also offer site visits, personal coaching and ongoing contact to ensure delivery is consistent, effective and working according to the needs of each club. If you would like any more information please email Rob or Ali at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the BIT:
The BIT is designed and manufactured by Rob and Ali in the UK. It is the only product on the market able to withstand swimming pool conditions so is perfect for working with on poolside.
We first showcased the BIT at the Mark Foster Swim Academy in 2013 and since then have become an integral part of the coaching team having now delivered strength and conditioning programmes to over 2500 young swimmers throughout the UK. In 2016 we welcomed former double Olympian and World Backstroke Champion Katy Sexton MBE as our swim ambassador.
Our online training is not only available for Coaches but also to Master swimmers and Triathletes who have realised that building specific strength on land will increase strength, speed & stamina in the water.