How We Train

  We see training as the relentless pursuit of excellence, the relentless push beyond perceived limits. Training delving into the depths of physical and mental capacity, where discomfort is the currency of progress. We adhere to the unforgiving laws of training, where overload, reversibility, and progression reign supreme. Each session is a battle, a strategic onslaught against complacency and mediocrity.

We define training as more than just physical exertion; it's a mental crucible, a test of willpower and determination. We recognize that each athlete's journey is unique, their struggles and triumphs woven into the fabric of their training. Our programs are not mere routines; they're meticulously crafted symphonies of stress and adaptation.

We orchestrate the symphony of suffering, manipulating methods, volume, intensity, and frequency to amplify the agony and transcend the mundane. We break athletes down, stripping away layers of comfort and familiarity, leaving only raw potential in its wake.

Through the crucible of calculated stress and strain, we forge resilience from the fires of adversity. Weaknesses are not weaknesses; they're opportunities for growth, avenues to explore the depths of human potential.

Our aim transcends mere achievement; it's the relentless pursuit of greatness, the unyielding quest to defy expectations and shatter barriers. We mold athletes into warriors, forged in the crucible of relentless determination, ready to conquer even the most formidable challenges that dare to stand in their path.

Programming is designed to maximize swimmer’s potential as they prepare for the next level of training. Training incorporates traditional training methods with the most current research and our own experiences as coaches. Our program is not designed for swimmers without goals or direction. 




LSAC Developmental Model


Training is not just a series of isolated exercises; it's a comprehensive journey that delves deep into the science of human performance. It's a meticulous blend of research-backed methodologies and keen observation, crafting an immersive experience that allows athletes to intimately understand their bodies and their current state.

Our training modules serve as the cornerstone, providing a structured framework that ensures consistency across all levels of our organization. This uniform approach guarantees that each athlete is equipped with the essential knowledge and skills required to excel in our sport.

But our approach doesn't stop there. We understand that success isn't achieved overnight; it's a culmination of meticulous planning and strategic execution. That's where periodization comes into play.

Periodization isn't just a fancy term; it's the heartbeat of our training philosophy. It's the art of systematically manipulating intensity, volume, and exercise types at precise intervals to elicit optimal improvements in physical performance.

While a haphazard approach may yield temporary gains, it's the structured progression of periodization that unlocks an athlete's true potential. It's about laying the groundwork for sustained success, ensuring that each training phase builds upon the last, propelling the athlete towards greatness.

Our planning isn't confined to the confines of a single season; it's a meticulous blueprint crafted over months and years. It's about sculpting a path towards peak performance, relentlessly refining skills and enhancing performance metrics.

But our journey doesn't end with planning; it's an ongoing process of evaluation and adaptation. We identify the weak links in the chain and subject them to intense scrutiny in subsequent training phases, ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of excellence.


The Lone Star Swimmer Developmental Model illustrates just how skill related cmponents and developmental components are addressed over the course of a career.












Strength Training

During the course of a swim season athletes prime themselves through 3 phases.

1) General: to develop metabolic capacity
2) Preparatory: to increase muscular strength and endurance
3) Specific: to practice and sharpen sport-specific technique and improve efficiency 

Understang\ding that no athlete is built the same, every strength training session includes a series of functional and movements that we use to develop effective movement patterns that are specific to the individuals training condition and specific needs.

The number one question we get from parents in regards to strength training is “Is strength training relevant for young athletes?” 

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is a little more complex. 

There are a lot of stigmas that come with strength training young athletes. Several are justified, but most are erroneous. A good Strength Training program (dryland) will incorporate exercises that are designed to prevent injury. Injury prevention is the leading factor we consider when running a Dryland session and something that all athletes, not just swimmers, should consider. 

An ideal strength training program will incorporate exercises that prevent injury and are relevant to swimming. Prepubescent athletes will naturally develop strength over time when committing to a Dryland program. Designing and developing exercises that build strength is the easy part. Knowing how to prescribe exercises that increase range of motion and flexibility is the crucial part of programming. These exercises are paramount for injury prevention and must be incorporated early in the season. 

Shoulder injuries are one of the most common career killers for swimmers “Swimmer’s shoulder” is a result from fatigue and overuse to the rotator cuff and can take a lifetime to recover from. A swimmer can prevent injury by incorporating exercises that stabilize the shoulder blade and help develop range of motion. 

Exercises to combat shoulder injury include Indian Club swings done with a light weight and Gada swings (Macebell), and Frontal/Lateral raises done in a slow, controlled motion. By programming these exercises into our Dryland, we able to keep our swimmers fresh, fast, and injury free. As always, the key to programming is knowing when and how much load to apply. 

A young athlete’s involvement in swimming is something that should be supported with appropriate strength training. The ultimate goal is to keep them injury free in a safe environment. Choosing appropriate exercises outside the pool will keep them excited for training and physically able to meet the demands of our sport. 

When we select the exercises or practice set, we try to factor in 3 crucial points: 

  1. Safety: Safety first! The training protocol must be safe for all participants. Its scalability and versatility, when combined with a coach’s knowledge and experience allow the program to be adapted to varying levels of fitness and to work around injuries. 
  2. Programming: Is the exercise appropriate for the time of the training season? Does the exercise address the area we are trying to improve on? 
  3. Fun Factor: Is the athlete enjoying the training? Rate of enjoyment is factor that is commonly overlooked and the leading cause of burnout. 

The key to improving a swimmer’s capacity is not in simply doing the training, it is in understanding how to adapt to the training and utilize for competition. Keeping the exercises “functional” to movements performed increases their ability to adapt to the stress that comes from swim practices. Reinforcement from both Dryland and swim practice while receiving feedback from coaches ensure that the swimmer is cognitively processing the training as much as possible. 

Functional training is essential to swimmers. Functional exercises engage all the major muscle groups with realistic compound movements. Functional movements are intricate, compound, and demand a high amount of focus. Each exercise should provide enough stress for increased muscle recruitment while allowing opportunity for modification as the season progresses. The exercises we choose engage multiple muscle groups and require all components of Skill Related fitness. 

Swimmers, just like all athletes, must use their body as one-piece. All movement must initiate from the core, and then follow through the arms and legs (extremities). What we refer as The Core is what we consider to be the primary muscles used in swimming. Chest, Hips, abdominals, and back the 4 muscle units we consider to be part of The Core. Functional movements involve these areas of the body. 

The movements our swimmers perform require a strong, stabilized, integrated midline, which keeps the body balanced in the water. We emphasize exercises that develop a strong chest that drives the body forward. We also incorporate leg exercises that develop powerful hips, which initiate locomotion, the most basic movement and the most imperative to swimming. 

The 1-arm Kettlebell swing is a great example of a Functional exercise. This Tri-joint movement is a great way to engage the hips and get them to “snap.” In doing so the athlete is able to effectively integrate the core and follow through with the extremities in a way the mimics the Dolphin Kick in swimming. 

The exercises we perform on the Indo Board (Overhead squat, pushups, Lunge, etc.) are another example of functional exercises. By standing on an unstable surface, the athlete is forced to engage his or her core in order to stabilize for the movement. The exercises we do on the Indo Board help to increase balance, spatial awareness, and general strength, all of which are essential components for swimmers. 

A swimmer may increase their overall power in the water by using a variety of methods. Research shows that combining weights, plyometrics, and speed training in one session is the optimal method for maximum power. The timing and programming of these lifts are essential and must take place throughout the Swim Season. 


Plyometrics are crucial in developing functional training patterns. Plyometrics are the bridge between strength and speed and the staple of our Dryland program. The goal of plyometric training is to increase an athlete’s reactive ability by stressing the amortization phase of the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC). We see it as how do we get them off the block and off the wall faster/stronger. 

During a plyometric session, kinetic energy is gathered (in the tendons and soft tissues) during a rapid eccentric movement and may be explosively released into the concentric phase. Exploiting this stretch shortening cycle produces more force than may be achieved in a purely concentric motion. This also helps to develop the whole neuromuscular system and not just contractile tissue, allowing the body to become faster and stronger at the same time. 

Many athletic movements include a loading phase during which the affected muscles are rapidly stretched. An example of this would be when a boxer throws a punch, or when a basketball player goes for a rebound. In regards to swimming, loading occurs when during the start and during the turn, where the swimmer is at their fastest.

This pre-loading, which occurs in the direction opposite to that of the ultimate motion, activates a muscle spindle reflex that signals the muscles to contract powerfully. Plyometric training develops the ability to rapidly, powerfully change directions as well as inducing neuromuscular changes that speed an athlete’s contraction times. Plyometric training includes standing jumps, bounds, depth jumps, throws and catches, push-ups etc. Clapping Pull-ups would be considered a plyometric movement. 

Our favorite plyometric exercises: 

Box Jump


Depth Jump


Dive Specific



Multi-directional Jumps


A key point to be made here is that all functional movement is initiated by the core and finished by extremities. The hip drive is vital to all functional movement, which generally integrates the core to the extremities. A sound plyometric program will develop a strong core while improving movement efficiency. 

Practice makes perfect and mastering plyometric movements takes time and focus. Tri-joint extension (hips drive the knees, knees drive the ankles) should be integrated into every sport movement. Integrating and learning to control the limb/core connection is essential, and it is not accomplished by training the extremities in isolation. 

It is important to know when and how much to perform these exercises in a safe environment. Planning and executing these exercises  fall in place with different parts of the season. We want our swimmers to push themselves as hard as they can, but at the same, they have to have fun doing it! Because when it gets down to it, the scariest swimmer is the one with the biggest smile on their face! 

What about the core?

The Muscles that Make up your Core

The core is not exclusive to the abs. The core makes up nearly half the body and includes all muscles that attach to the pelvis and spine. These muscles allow us to kick, jump, twist, bend, or brace, and those muscles must fire in concert. 

The Posture Regulator

The trapezius muscle connects your spine to your shoulder blades. It stabilizes the upper body for everything from good posture to a powerful chest drive during the butterfly, freestyle and breaststroke extension.

The Body's Stabilizer

The ability to do any downward pulling movement, like a freestyle stroke or a breaststroke pull-down, comes from the latissimus dorsi, or lats. This muscle also links the shoulder blades, upper arms, spine, and pelvis, which makes it a critical stabilizer for the core — and the entire body.

The Powerhouse

The strength to sprint or drive off the wall comes from the gluteus maximus, one of the body's largest muscles, and the ability to balance on one leg from the gluteus medius. 50% of all athletic movement initiates from these two muscles working together in unison.

The Core's “Core”

What we think of as the core muscles — the rectus abdominus, or six-pack, and the obliques, which span the entire side of your torso — are essential for bending (frontal plane movement) and twisting (transverse - think free and back). Even more crucial for a solid center is the transversus abdominis. Buried under the other abdominals, this thick muscle wraps around your torso and acts like a girdle, keeping your core tight and aligned.

The Support System

Hip adductors attach to the inside of your pelvis, and they're what keep you stable and aligned when you kick. Lack of movement and these thin muscles can shorten and tighten, pull your pelvis forward, and make your hamstrings seize up. During the early portion of our preseason, we spend about 50% of our practices working on the kick. This allows our athletes to build a solid neuro-pathic foundation that can be utilized for the remainder of the season.


The Reinforcements

Located in your lower back, the quadratus lumborum and the spinal erectors which allow you to stand up straight and rotate, and they work with the glutes to power upward-pulling motions like a dead lift or a kettlebell swing. 

(Swiss ball curls)

Training Adaptations

What is probably the most important thing to know and understand is that when we introduce a stressor, the body is going to react in a state of shock. The General Alarm Syndrome (GAS) is a term to describe a physiological response to a stressor that occurs in a specific sequence. 

The three phases of stress, and how your body changes with each phase, include the: 

  1. Alarm phase – the body is in a state of shock as is struggling to adapt 
  2. Resistance phase – the body adapts to the stressor as adaptations occur 
  3. Exhaustion phase – the body has had too much and is crashing (overtraining). 


In order to reduce the risk overtraining and possible injury, we recommend spending the first 6-8 weeks mastering the movement (form) before prescribing sets and reps. Knowledge is power, educating them on how to do the movement before telling them how much to do the movement is imperative to building a sound swim season. 

The “neural adaptations” athletes undergo in training refers to the brain’s ability to recruit muscles to contract and produce a particular movement. These adaptations tend to occur during the resistance phase. Practicing an exercise with resistance teaches your brain to fire the correct muscles to achieve a desired movement. Performing the exercises at a tempo provides a means for passive facilitation. Over time, the athlete’s cadence and technique to the exercise also become engrained so that the movement seems more automatic. 

The physical adaptations, also known as neuromuscular facilitation, is the process by which the neuromuscular system memorizes motor skills, such that the signals from the brain to the muscle become semi-automatic, and you no longer need to concentrate so hard to create the desired movement. This tends to occur later in the season as the swimmer prepares for peak performance. 

Functional strength training, developed through Functional patterns, helps athletes develop muscle memory so that they can quickly access their movement patterns during training and in competition. More complex movements involving the whole-body demand greater muscle recruitment. 

Strength gains tend to accelerate at faster rate when a swimmer performs a strength exercise, like a deep squat, when the body is slightly fatigued. When doing so, the brain will recruit muscles when it normally doesn’t. This adaptation would be useful at the end of a race or going into the last turn, when your strength normally begins to wane.

In general, athletes and coaches prefer to strength train “fresh” when glycogen stores in the muscle are readily available. AM Dryland is most suitable for swimmers, but exercises can be easily modified for swimmers who can only attend dryland in the evening. 

Other adaptations that occur include the following: 

Increase in Diaphragm Strength and Endurance: this is something that most athletes and coaches neglect to hone in. A stronger diaphragm delays fatigue and increases endurance during steady state exercise. The stronger the inhale/exhale the greater the force generated from skeletal muscles. Improved diaphragm strength also contributes to a higher VO2 Max. 

Increased diaphragm strength is stimulated by stretching and compressing the muscle and by loading skeletal structure to induce higher ventilatory drive. We often put our swimmers into positions that place an increase amount of pressure onto the diaphragm. Repeat sets of 25’s underwater/near the bottom with and without a kickboard are common early in the season. By performing a front squat or goblet squat, we load the muscles of the diaphragm causing them engage during the exercise. 

Increase in Acid Buffering, Tolerance and Clearance: Hydrogen, which is acidic, is a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism in the cells. High levels of muscle acidity inhibit contractility and lead to poor technique. Both things we never want to see from our swimmers. High levels of acidity compromise overall physiologic function. While poor sleep habits contribute to this, combine it with an exhausted athlete and you got burnout. Have you ever noticed how much of a nightmare the preseason can be? 

Interval training, depending on the duration of work and recovery periods improves the body’s ability to clear and/or tolerate acid. Exposure to hypoxic/hypobaric conditions induces systemic acidity; training that causes a similar state accustoms the body to respond appropriately no matter the cause. 

Improvement in Hormonal Response to Extreme Effort: Hypoxic (without Oxygen) conditions stimulate fight/flight response. Improvements in MVO2 reduce overall systemic stress so the hormonal response to the effort changes. Less stress means less arousal and reduced fight/flight reaction, which favors fat metabolism. A higher level of fitness fosters a positive hormonal response to extreme effort and increases endurance. 

  1. Improved O2 efficiency: increased oxygenation of the heart allows recruitment of greater muscle mass (because the central governor engages at a higher rate of work). 
  2. Increased Capillarization: increases the number of capillaries in the skeletal muscles, improving blood flow to the mitochondria and boosting the quantity of fuel available to them. 
  3. The number and volume of mitochondria in the skeletal muscles also grows, and as more fatty acids are available. ATP production from fatty acids increases, reducing dependence on acid-producing CHO metabolism, and sparing stored glycogen. 
  4. The liver’s capacity to produce glucose from lactate, amino acids and glycerol improves with training. 
  5. The muscles and liver gain a greater capacity to store glycogen. 
  6. The muscles produce less lactate at a given rate of work and the ability of the heart, liver, kidneys and inactive muscles to extract and utilize lactate also increases so the lactate turn-point occurs at a higher percentage of MVO2. This allows the muscles to do more work without developing debilitating levels of acidity. 
  7. Following the appropriate type of training, the muscles also develop an improved capacity to buffer acid, as well as tolerance to higher levels of acidity. 
  8. Muscle contractility due to greater recruitment (more efficient neural pathways). 

Muscle Memory: If athletes do not perform an exercise with sufficient resistance, velocity of movement, or complexity, they may be developing muscle memory for an improper movement pattern. For example, pushing weight overhead is great for developing the shoulder, specifically the deltoids. However, does pushing weights overhead benefit a swimmer? If anything, it limits a swimmers capacity to swim faster by decreasing range of motion. 

Since practice solidifies muscle memory, the swimmer should pay attention to how they execute their resistance training to develop the appropriate skills for 

swimming. As the load varies as the session progress. Most exercises do not require additional or even any weight at. The exercises we perform, that require additional load, will be conducted at 60-80% of 1RM (RM is the max resistance you can do given one repetition) 

Swimmers should be getting through 12-15 reps of a given exercise where the last couple reps are challenging, yet that are not going to failure. As always, technique takes priority over increasing their resistance. We want their muscles to memorize the right technique before you start adding more resistance, or you risk injury or developing the wrong muscles. 

Increased Movement Velocity: During each exercises, athletes need to move through the exercise with sufficient velocity. VASA trainers are a great tool to use for developing velocity. You’re developing a highly neural pathway that will become more and more automatic, so you need to move deliberately and with speed to build movement patterns that are relevant to your performance. Athletes may need to go down in resistance to ensure they can move with enough velocity and the correct technique. Too much weight = slower movement = decrease in velocity. 

Whole body exercises are simply more functional. The swimmer doesn’t just kick and pull. Ideally, the whole body is working together as one-piece. Exercise selection needs to match the neuromuscular demand of movements in swimming because they require coordination among several muscle groups to achieve a movement. Functional movements like squats, lunges, and pushups demand complexity and teach the brain to fire all the muscles necessary, whereas isolated movements only fire one muscle group at a time. Swimmers should focus on full body movements to develop strength in the general strength phase of their season, and then simply maintain the motor pathways with fewer reps or rounds later in the season. 

Additional Benefits:

  1. SAFETY: The protocol must be safe for all participants. Its scalability and versatility, when combined with a coach’s knowledge and experience allow the program to be adapted to varying levels of fitness and to work around injuries. 
  2. THERAPY: The protocol may be used to rehabilitate injury. If injury is defined as a loss of functionality then functional training is a logical response. Only functional movements are safe.Multi-joint movements reeducate muscle groups and stabilize connective tissue In therapy: take a low trajectory toward a distant horizon. Consistency before intensity
    Leave ego out of it, the greatest threat to recovery is doing too much too soon 
  3. FUNCTIONALITY: Functional movement training is essential to everyone. Functional exercises engage all the major muscle groups with realistic compound movements expressed in common, universal motor recruitment patterns. Functional movements are irreducible but compound; a squat cannot be made any simpler and it engages multiple muscle groups and balance, requiring coordinated activation. 
  4. CORE: There is no such thing as a core separate from the rest of the body (but for lack of a better term we use it). The body is one-piece. An integrated, one-piece body has great midline stabilization and strong hips, which initiate locomotion, the most basic movement. Picking up, putting and carrying weight overhead is the best method to obtain true core strength and core-to-skeletal-muscle integration. Fit Ball training can help stabilize the midline but does little to train the core to initiate movement. 
  5. HIP DISPLACEMENT: All functional movement is initiated by the core and finished by extremities (i.e. the hip drives the knee, not vice-versa). This illustrates the fact that hip displacement is paramount to all functional movement, which generally weds spine to pelvis. Strong melding of the pelvis to the spine improves energy efficiency and safety. Locomotion, jumping, punching, kicking, swinging a kettlebell, rowing, chopping wood, sitting up, and lunging for a high bar or handhold are all movements that begin with an impulsion from the hips.  this This is oftern frefered to as a tri-joint extension (hip, knee, ankle). Integrating and learning to control the limb/core connection is essential, and it is not accomplished by training the extremities in isolation. 
  6. NERVES, HORMONES: Big, functional movements stimulate a strong neuro-endocrine response (neuro: neural or brain, endocrine: hormonal, and the two combined into a systemic concept becomes neuro-endocrine). Compound, multi-joint movements require significant participation of the brain to coordinate the movement. The more efficient the neuromuscular coordination the greater the recruitment and the more power the movement may produce. “Big” movements that involve many muscle groups, like the Olympic lifts, and also imply great load (weight) cause positive endocrine (hormonal) response. This response (e.g. increased testosterone production) positively affects all cells and all muscles in the body. 
  7. RELATIVE STRENGTH: A positive power-to-weight ratio is more important than absolute strength for functional movement, which may be generally defined as locomotion. Training in a manner to cause muscle hypertrophy (increased size) compromises the ability to run or do pull-ups, and the extra weight can overload joints and connective tissue. To create the strongest power-to-weight ratio the loads and movements, effort and recovery must be designed to stimulate increases in myofibril density, the fibers that actually contract rather than increases in sarcoplasma volume, which enlarges the muscle due to fluid volume increases without necessarily making it stronger. 
  8. RECRUITMENT: Muscle recruitment (neurological efficiency) is more important than muscle volume. An average person is able to contract a meager 30% of any active muscle when giving his utmost. Top athletes can engage 50%. This is why muscle size is revered; at 50% efficiency they must be big to move significant weight. However, merely increasing the size of the muscles does not increase the capacity to generate power as effectively as improving the nervous system’s ability to synchronize the electrical impulses that cause the muscles to contract and act in concert. The more efficient the muscle the lighter the athlete, which places less stress on the system during locomotion. Maintaining minimum muscle volume also improves oxygen efficiency; when running uphill a big upper body, though not being used demands constant delivery of oxygen and fuel sources, robbing the legs of that same blood and reducing their capacity to produce force and continue doing so. 
  9. CARDIO-VASCULAR: Metabolic conditioning executed at high intensity for short duration has a better "whole" training effect on the cardiovascular system than does Long Slow Distance (LSD) training. Low intensity aerobic (oxidative) effort reduces the body's ability to produce energy anaerobically. The opposite is LESS true; anaerobic pathway training has a positive effect on aerobic capacity (O2 uptake, heart stroke volume, skeletal muscle capillarization)3. 
  10. CONCURRENT: a training program that combines short duration, high intensity circuits and power development with genuine endurance training does not have deleterious effects on aerobic capacity. While concurrently training power and endurance is a compromise, these types of training have a mutually supporting effect. In fact, concurrent training at both high and low intensities across a broad range of movements is essential because ignoring a particular zone of intensity or a particular movement for as little as ten days compromises the capacity to recruit cells in the several human systems that work to perform a certain effort. Use it or lose it. 

Bottom Line: Adaptations are happening all the time during resistance training and swim practice. The brain sends signals along motor pathways to tell muscles when, how quickly, and how powerfully to contract to produce movement. Take advantage of your muscle memory and using sufficient resistance, velocity, and swim practice to develop high-performance results! 


Junior swimmers come to LSAC in order to build a foundation for future success. Elite/Senior swimmers have proven themselves to be strong minded and strong willed. These swimmers are dedicated to excellence and teamwork. Having this like-minded group allows us to continually reach new levels of training and performance. 

Each concept is dependent on the foundation beneath it. IF the foundation is not solid then all levels above it will suffer.

Skill related Components that define training:

  1. Cardiovascular/ respiratory endurance, defined as systemic endurance - efficient uptake, processing and delivery of O2 
  2. Stamina - the body's systems efficiently process, deliver, store and utilize energy 
  3. Strength - the ability of a muscle or muscle group to apply force 
  4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion (ROM) of any particular joint 
  5. Power, defined as speed strength - the ability of muscles or groups to apply maximum force along minimum time cycle 
  6. Speed - minimizing the time cycle of any given, repeated movement 
  7. Coordination - the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement 
  8. Agility - minimizing transition time from one movement pattern to another 
  9. Balance - the ability to control the placement of the body's center of gravity in relation to 
  10. Accuracy - the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensit

LSAC Training Principles that Define Training

  1. One size does not fill all 
  2. Nutrition (Hydration, Fuel, Recovery) helps the athlete to prepare and recover from Training/Competition.
  3. Aerobic conditioning (70-85% MHR ~30 Min) improves oxygen exchange (capacity.)
  4. Cross-training supports aerobic conditioning through body control and coordination
  5. Deliberate training supports utilization.
  6. Strength incorporates all skill related components into specific adaptation.