A Dryland-Specific Program for High School Swimmers by Randy Wells, Emporia High School (2013)


[introduction, by George Block]

I’m George Block; I want to welcome you to this session on dryland training.  This is one speaker I’d never met before, and I was getting ready to go out and hunt him down this morning and God put us in the same elevator.  It made it real interesting to meet.  And I am so happy that Randy is here, from just the little I got to talk to him.  I found out the level of personal commitment he had in his talk: he is a football coach and defensive coordinator, and he skipped his game this weekend to come here and give his talks.  He had to watch it on a webcast, and try to use his cell phone to call the guys in the booth and run a defense from New Orleans back to Emporia, Kansas.  So it’s really exciting to have somebody who is a Football coach, a Track coach, and committed to Swimming—has worked with a number of Swimming coaches.  I learned just moments ago that you’re very lucky, because normally he does the clinic in the weight room and all the coaches do the exercises. [laughter]  So today you are saving my knee, and me a lactate bath tomorrow.  So, Randy, thank you for joining us; welcome to the ASCA World Clinic.


[Wells begins]

Thank you, I appreciate it, thank you.  Just to give you a quick background, my background, I work with every type of athlete possible.  Swimmers, I’m lucky that we’ve had some really good swimmers where I’m from, and I’ve had a chance to work with some really good swimmers.  Katie Yevak, who went to Georgia, just barely missed the Olympic team; she is from our hometown.  So I work with a lot of swimmers.  And believe it or not, my first teaching/coaching job, I had to manage the pool and they said by the way you got to do the swim club too.  So I do have a little bit of background in there.  I am by no way a swim guru of technique or anything like that.  But what I’m going to show you today are some very interesting things that I think you can take back and use.


And the presentation is kind of a two-part deal.  I’m going to move pretty quick through the PowerPoint stuff, the slides.  Some of the slides are going to give you a background of what we’re going to see in the video.  Then I’ve got to switch gears, I’m going to put a video in.  The video is about 28 minutes; there is a lot… there is a ton of stuff on it.  I figured out the other night there is probably 40 different exercises that you’re going to see.  And it’s no way inclusive of all the things that we do, but it’s going to give you a framework that you could take back with little or no equipment and get some dryland training for your swimmers.


At the same time, the good thing about dryland training, if you can do some of these circuit things that you’re going to see today, you can actually reduce the volume in the pool.  Of how much volume you’re doing actually in the pool, and that’s a good thing I think.  You know, I’m a track coach too, and it’s always about volume, volume, volume, all this stuff.  And sometimes we do too much.  So if you could do some of these things, then at the same time you want to try to decrease some of the volume you’re doing in the pool.


My background, like I said, I coach Football, I coach Track.  I work with every athlete.  I’m basically our strength and conditioning coordinator at our high school as well.  So I work with tons of athletes; I see about 150-165 kids a day, and sometimes 50 at a time.  So it’s very challenging.


So what we’re going to do, before we start.  Everybody standup.  Give yourself a little bit of space.  I’m going to show you something that you can take back, right now.


Shoulder injuries are usually a common occurrence in Swimming. (Would I be right in saying that?  Somewhat, alright.)  And you’re going to need to give yourself a little bit of space.  So here is a little tool that you can use either as pre-hab, rehab, warm-up; however you want to use it, it could be used.  And it is just a little isodynamic shoulder routine.  It can be done with weight, no weight—we do it with no weight.  Just to loosen up the shoulders and get some good stability in our upper back.  So I’m going to demonstrate first, and then we’re going to do it.  Don’t poke anybody in the eye.


I’m going to get into somewhat of bent-over-row position, push my hips back.  And I’m going to take my hands and put them in a Y.  Notice my thumbs are up.  And the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go with my right arm and I’m going to touch my left knee, and I’m going to keep this left arm extended and not moving at all.  So this is a Y, okay?   Do 5.


Now you got to get… you’ve got to get hold a good bit of a row position, touch the inside knee, thumbs up, do 5.  Normally we would do 12; you guys are only doing 5.  Yeah, I know it’s a little cramped.  If you want to scoot-up to the front—I move around a lot.


So then put the right arm out, and do 5 with the left arm.  These are Ys.  And both arms should be straight, and I’m keeping my thumbs up.  Okay, you got the idea.  That’s part one.


From the Y, then we’re going to go to somewhat of a T.  It’s not a full… (I’ll show you from the side), it’s not a full 180-T; so I’m somewhere right in here, okay, maybe 160°.  And I’m going to do the same thing.  Left arm up, right arm touches the knee, it comes up.  Do 5.


(This is kind of my little get acquainted introduction deal.)  And I’m telling you, this is worth its weight in gold, right here.


[audience member]:  Is your back flat when you do this?  That’s key?


[Wells]:  Yes.  Yeah.  Because see you want to hinge at the hip; that’s the whole key right there.  So you’re getting more bang for your buck right there yeah.


Okay so we’ve got Ys, Ts, and now we’re going to go to what I call Egyptians.  I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the song Walk Like an Egyptian; this is it.


So I’m going to get in this good position.  I’m going to put one hand on my low back.  The other hand is going to be over here, at about a scarecrow position, about 90°.  And all I’m going to do is lift both hands up, and back down.  So the hand on my back comes up, and this hand rotates up.


Now you can see… see my wrist start to flex?  I want to try to lock that in there.  Okay, I had an AC shoulder injury a long time ago, so I don’t have that good of a range of motion.  Over time kids can get this really-good range of motion.  So here we go, we’re going to do Egyptians.


Let’s go right arm down, left arm on your low back.  And lift both at the same time.  It doesn’t have to be fast, doesn’t have to real high.  Do 3 or 4, then switch sides.


Now, look: when I take this hand off my low back, I want to go straight up.  I don’t want to go back here, I want to go straight up.  So you get internal/external rotation.  Everybody thinks that swimmers always have poor… they always have… its rotator cuff, rotator cuff, rotator cuff, rotator cuff.


(Okay, you guys can sit down.)  So that’s a great little tool that you can use a number of different ways.


It’s not so much rotator cuff.  Alright?  And you’re going to see this again in just a second.  (And I know I’m going to have to hurry because I’m going to talk a lot.  Is there something in here after we’re done?  Okay.  Then if we go over, I’m okay, because I’ll probably go over.)


The key here, and here’s the take-home message that I can give to you guys, is this: if you have a rash of shoulder injuries in Swimming, it’s really not so much rotator-cuff issues as it is weak-spine and stiffness issues.  Because if the lats can’t pull on a good, stiff spine, the shoulder has to take the brunt of that load.  That’s how you get shoulder injuries.  Alright?  So keep that in mind, and I’ll come back to that in just a little bit in the slides.


So the purpose of this presentation today:

  • hopefully share some training methods with you and some ideas,
  • give you some understanding of what I do for functional trainings for competitive swimmers,
  • and we’re going to define the LAPS system.

Now the LAPS system is a really unique deal. it involves four components, four essential components, that swimmers should have—and actually almost every athlete.  So think outside the box right now.  I did not design this system, and I’m going give these guys credit because I learned this from them: Juan Carlos Santana and Grif Fig of the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Florida.  They designed this system, and it works very, very well.   So I had the opportunity to meet with those guys, I learned some really cool things, and hopefully I can pass that on to you.  So they get all the credit for this.  And then I tweak it a little bit, change some things, all that good stuff; then I try to make it my own.


And then last thing:

  • hopefully give you some new ideas of workouts you can use right away.

If you’re doing dryland training; if not, hopefully this provokes you into starting to do some dryland training with swimmers.


What do we know? We know that the research… there is tons of articles—I’m not going to quote all those things and I do a lot of nerdy reading.  But we know the research says this: resistance training improves stroke rate, it improves the distance traveled per stroke, therefore performance can be improved or enhanced.  So that’s what we know.


This is my favorite all-time slide.  Why?  Because what I see here… you guys see three different animals; I see three badass athletes right here.  Look at this frog, look at those calves: those are superhuman calves.   Nice hammies, nice glutes; he’s got the works going there.  What I see here is triple extension.  For swimmers, two times it occurs—actually it happens in the water—but also at the start and on the flip turn.  Two important critical times, where times can be decreased if they have enough power.


Okay, look at this frog right here.  A frog can jump greater than 20 times its body length in one jump.  I don’t know of any human that could do that.  So if I was five feet tall, I could jump 100 feet in one jump; not possible.  Look at the cheetah: 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 3 seconds.  Look at the ant: an ant can carry 20 times its body weight—lift and carry 20 times its body weight.  Now to me that’s impressive.  This is what I want to try to achieve for our athletes, whether it is swimmers, golfers, cross-country people, doesn’t matter.  And we try to do this… and I show this to our kids actually.


This is what stiff spines can do for you.  Now, they have some innate behaviors that we don’t, but a stiff spine could do a lot of good things for you.  So keep this in the back of your mind right now.  This is what we’re trying to achieve: core stiffness.


Function in the water, what else we do know?  There’s no ground contact forces.  Alright, this is where the debate gets with a little bit of Olympic lifting, because you’re putting force into the ground to get triple extension.  But there are those two times—the flip turn and the start—where you can dramatically decrease your times.  And that’s the key; the key is to swim faster.  Just like on a track: the track is to run faster.  Okay so the key to this is core stiffness; that is the key to transfer.  Everything that we do is anchored to the core.


Now my definition of the core is a little bit different.  When I talk about core… most people talk about abdominals.  I talk about a chain-link fence, on the front side and the backside.  So everything from my armpit to my ankles, I call the core; posterior, lateral, front, anterior, all that stuff.  Everything pulls on the core.


Take-home message—and this is where I get back to what I said earlier—if you have a rash of shoulder injuries, it’s most likely due to a weak spine.  Most likely.  Why?  Because the lats can’t pull on the spine like it should, because it’s not stiff.  Due to a weak spine, the shoulder picks-up the brunt of the load, then you have chronic shoulder injuries.


So what’s the fix?  The fix is to strengthen the spine.  Work for stiffness, work for good alignment.  If you’re weak in the core and the spine, you lose alignment in the water and you lose pull and kick power.  Which you guys all know about.


This is where the LAPS system comes in.  Four essential components of the system:

  • lower body power—that’s the L,
  • alignment and core rotation—that’s the A,
  • pull and push power—that’s the P,
  • shoulder stability—that’s the S.


(Now I know you guys don’t have these notes.  I didn’t know they were going to be in a book or I’d have brought you all the notes.  You can e-mail me, and I’ll send you this.  And I believe they’re going to have it up on a site as well that you’ll have access to.  So if you don’t want to write, you want to get all this; you’ll get it.)


The goal is to be stronger and more explosive in the water while decreasing the risk of injury.  That’s what it comes down to.  And to train safely.  Technique, where we talk about technique.


And understand this: the lower body is usually the difference-maker in the breaststroke and the butterfly—the lower body.  Leg strength is critical for kicks.  If the legs die in the water, what happens?  The hip sink.  If the hip sink, more resistance, more drag.  Okay?  The freestyle and the backstroke, those generally lend-themselves more to upper body.  More pushing- and pulling-type exercises will enhance the freestyle and the backstroke.  So you can kind of see how the system falls into place.


My top four exercises.  If there’s only four exercises that you could do…. (And you’re going to see all this; you’re going to see everything that I’m getting ready to show you and talk about. Some of these I’m going to go really quick on.)  If there’s only four things that I could do, they would be:

  • reaching lunges: which would be just a lunge with a reach, in all planes of motion there—frontal plane, transverse and the sagittal plane;
  • T-rotational push-ups: doing a push-up, coming-up, T’ing out;
  • one-arm staggered band pulls: that’s with the band (yeah, we do some of that stuff); and
  • band extensions: which would be extending overhead, lengthening out your abdominals.


Those four things could be done almost anywhere; almost anywhere with little to no equipment.  So if you don’t have access to weights, there is ways you could do all this.  (We’re fortunate enough, because we’ve got a pretty nice weight room.)  So those are the things that I would try to do.  If I had no weights at all and no implements of anything, I would be making sure I can get that stuff done, somehow.  And you’ll see all that in just a little bit.


Functional dryland training for swimming, these are the exercises to try.  Remember I talked about the lower body, the L in the LAPS system—those four components.  These are the lower-body exercises that we’re going to try to include, that you’re going to see today in some of the circuits.


So when I get all the swimmers in my weight class, we try to block them all together.  We don’t always do it, but when they come into me, they’ll always do an upper-body strength movement, a lower-body strength movement, and a quick-lift.  Like some type of an Olympic lift: a hand clean, a power clean, a snatch, something; it could be even a med-ball throw, for that much—it doesn’t have to be with weights.  Then when everybody else in that group breaks-off for their supplemental work, the swimmers come and do all this stuff.  And it’s a ton of stuff.


Swim starts would be a lower-body, explosive-power exercise, alright?  Now this dude right here, I don’t know who this is but he’s got a heck of vertical jump for 52 years-old (which would be me, I guess).  So swim start jumps.  So you try to simulate some of the things that you can do in the pool; so these are the types of jumps we’ll do with swimmers.


They’ll actually go down to a two-point stance, hold it for a second or two before they jump.  Because what do they got to do?  In the blocks, you eliminate the stretch-reflex response by holding in that position; you don’t have the luxury of: boom-boom and go.  So we try to mimic this in a weight room with these different types of jumps and starts.  So in this case, we have a parallel-stance start: both feet are even, fingertips are touching the ground, exploding high up to a vertical jump, land, repeat the movement—for whatever reps or time.  Most of the stuff you’re going to see today, I love doing it for time—most of it.


So you have a parallel-stance jump.  You have what I call a track start, because it looks like a track start to me, on the swimmer block.  Which is a staggered-stance jump.  So we just take one foot, we slide it back to about the heel relation—toe-heel relation—fingers on the ground, they hold for two seconds, and then they explode up to a vertical jump.  Pretty simple, very effective.




[audience member]:  Would you recommend doing those on a concrete deck with no shoes?


[Wells]:  I would recommend doing them with no shoes, by all means.  But on concrete?  If there was something you can put down under your feet, like a towel or something that gives it a little cushion.  But the more you could do it without shoes, I would definitely do these without shoes.  Because the toe and the foot then is allowed to move like it should.  When they put shoes on, the shoe knocks all that out of the water.


[audience member]:  How many of these do you do?


[Wells]:  In a workout, it may be 20 jumps, tops.  So if they have 5 jumps in a circuit, they’re going to go four times through 20 jumps.  We’ll never do over… never, never over 60 contacts, ever.  Everybody says oh, yeah you got to do more plyometrics.  Everything we do is a plyometric, essentially; so I don’t go crazy with plyometrics, I really don’t.


So that’s a track start.


Split squat lunges.  Lower-body exercise, can be done with body weight.  If I was going to teach somebody to squat and I wanted to give them lower-body strength, this is what I start with now.  So I put them in a big split (like this).  And I just tell them to drop their hips straight down to the ground and then they come straight up.  So they work for good posture.  And then we can knock it out for reps.


If you really want to get somebody to increase their vertical jump—which swimmers are notoriously bad for jumping, alright, at least the ones I deal with.  Most of the kids I deal with, they can’t tie their shoe and chew gum at the same time.  So I put them in a split squat, like pre-work, like in our little warm-up when they come in to the weight room.  You should see them: they fall all over the place.  It’s incredible, how bad they actually are.


So what we try to do, the key to doing the split squat, is if you see this back knee here, it’s behind this hip.  That’s the key, because that opens-up your hips.  Okay.  So opening-up the hips (and I put it up here) is critical to developing more power, hip mobility.  Open-up the hip flexors is critical; back-leg knee must be behind the hip.  So it’s a good way to teach people how to squat and they get-in good posture.


Still on the lower body: anterior reaches.  Pretty simple little tool here, okay.  And here is the progression.  We just get them in like I’m taking an oath, and I take one hand up and I just go and touch in front of my other leg.  Pretty simple.  But what that teaches is to hinge at the hip.


Yes, question?


[audience member]:  On those split squats, you indicated that they progress into a jump.  Can you go over that real quick?


[Wells]:  Yeah.  So there is a number of ways we can progress this.  If I get it to a split squat and I see them start mastering this, in their workout instead of doing some of the parallel stance and the split stance jumps, they may just do a split jump and hold.  Then if you really want to really torture somebody, you get them in a split squat position, and you go down and you hold this bottom position for 4 seconds.  Now you talk about isometric leg strength—and I’m not loading this up—it’s incredible.  (And we’ll do this at the end.)  You go down there (like my leg is starting to shake already), then we come up fast, and then we go right back down and hold for 4 seconds.  And we try to get to a minute.  If they can get to a minute, they’ve got really good lower-body strength.  Maintaining good posture.   That’s one of my favorite things to do.


If I have a kid that has an ACL knee injury, I make sure….  And it’s crazy all the rehab stuff that I see and that I don’t see.  But I’ll make sure kids are doing this religiously.  Because it’s incredible, that 4 second isometric hold in the bottom with your body weight, and then movement with it and then right back down.  That’s called isodynamic.  It’s going to be a big thing in the future, so you’re hearing it here first.


(Okay, where were we?)  Anterior reaches.  That’s just a single-leg reach, trying to get them to hinge at the hip.  And you can see my back here is a little rounded, I’m not too worried about that because we’re not loaded up.


Still on the lower body: triple-threat hams.  How do we get the posterior change?  This is one of my favorite things to do, with all of our kids.  And we can progress to single leg on this.  So what they’re going to do… (and you’ll see all this in a video—I’m going to speed-up here because I think I’m over a little bit).  We’ll do long hip-ups, we’ll do a leg curl on a ball, and then we’ll do some more long hip-ups or short hip-ups.  So that’s 15-15-15. (And all these are in the description in the program.)




[audience member]:  That’s with a ball; would it be okay if they did that on a bench?


[Wells]:  Oh yeah.  And here is one thing that I would do.  (Hey, this is a very informal, by the way.  If you have questions, ask, because there’s a ton of things that I think I can help you with.)  You could put them on a bench; you can lay your upper back on a bench, feet on the ground.  And you have them hip-up to where their glutes are engaged, and it’s very effective.  You do 15 reps of that with no body weight.  And then you can start loading it up with a dumbbell, single leg, and it’s a very good exercise.


Matter of fact, we’re doing those with all of our kids right now, as their posterior chain work—all of them.  They don’t like them, but it really doesn’t…. If they don’t like it, I know it’s good; so we just keep doing it.


So this is some hamstring posterior chain work. (And I’m just going to kind of speed through some of these so we can get to the video.  And then after the video, if you want to hang around and talk about anything, hey, we’ll do whatever you need to do.)


Another lower-body exercise: one-legged kick drags.  I really like these.  So what we do is we hook a weight up and put a strap on the leg on the ankle.  And what they have to do is they have to pull this leg through and then they take a step, pull it through… and then they go down the floor. Really good hip-flexor strength, really good.


To the alignment and core—and I’ve already defined my core so I’m not going to go through that.  Dynamax Wall Series 1.  (Now I know you guys don’t have this right now, but you will have it.)  This is the whole description of this series; you’re going to see it on video.  So for time’s sake, I’m not going to go through this.  But what we try to do is we try to get 40 reps in 15 seconds.


And then on this next slide, this is still Dynamax Series 1, and it has a description of all the exercises.  Then you’ll see it on the video.  So we’re doing side-to-sides, diagonals, wood chops.  All this is just one series.  Then we go the squares.  Then we go to Dynamax Series 2 is using a med-ball for another way to work the core—which you’ll see in just a little bit.  Stability-ball rollouts to pikes, you’ll see that too; so use a stability ball a lot to do different things with for swimmers.


This is one of my favorite core-strengthening series right here.  So what we’ll do is we’ll do a stability-ball dead bug (and I have a picture in the back), and then the reps are on here.  (I won’t go through all of that.)  We do some in-and-outs, we do some single leg touches, and then we do a hold.


But here is what this looks like.  So here… contralateral is just a fancy name for opposite arm, opposite leg, okay.  So actually what I’m trying to do here, this is incredible… you try this at home, you’ll feel something in your abdominals and your core like you’ve never felt.  So this left knee and this right arm are actually trying to squeeze together; I’m trying to squeeze the ball.  And them I’m reaching with this arm and this leg.  And we’ll do 10-12 of those.  Then they’ll go to in-and-outs, where they’re just rolling the ball in and out into a pike.  Then they’ll put their feet on top of the ball, and they got to hold a good push-up position and take one foot off, put one foot on; it’s very slow.


But look at my shirt right here.  See the wrinkles in my shirt?  That’s good.  That’s called the serape effect, because your body is kind of wired in a cross-diagonal pattern.  So you can see these muscles and the force transfer, and how they have to stabilize right here.


And then we do the knee holds right here.  So that would be some core things that we would do.


We use ropes, for a number of different core exercises.  Different types of slams, in-and-outs for shoulder.  And some of these exercises actually you get double benefit.  So even though it may be a push-pull exercise, it may be a core exercise at the same time.  So we’ll do a number of different series with the ropes.  What I really like doing with swimmers with the ropes, when they get into a circuit, are a prone—where they’re actually laying down in a swimming position on a bench, prone—and supine; I really like those.  We’ll do stability-ball log rolls.


We’ll hold the bosu, which is this.  Now you can really see the wrinkles in the shirt.  So this in a log roll, where my legs are on top of each other and I’m just trying to rotate my feet over and keeping my arms straight.  And then this would be a twister, where my feet are actually going to split and I get explosive.  That takes a while to get to that point.  But look again, see what you see here.


And then this would be a specific core exercise for a swimmer, where they’re actually doing a bosu ball hold.  This is very hard to do.  When I started doing this, I couldn’t do it.  And then I kept practicing and practicing and finally I got to the point where… I hollered at my wife come take a picture, I finally got it, because it took me a while to do this.  So we’re trying to hold this streamline position, right centered on top of that ball.  And once again look at the shirt; see the wrinkles in the shirt?  It’s not because I didn’t iron it.


Alignment core: we do a number series of planks.  The T-plank, which you’ll see, I really like a lot.  The leg has to come over to the back.  They’re holding a T position.  So now you get shoulder stability and core at the same time.  A number of different T-plank reaches, where you’ve got three points of reference: opposite arm, opposite leg, one arm, one leg, another arm, other leg—it could be any combination of these.  But once again, look and see what you see here.  Alright?  So there is a lot of core work being done there, and it’s not the traditional crunch-type thing.


Push-pull exercises (and I’m going to go really quick through these).  Swimmers (and I have some pictures of these), alternating swimmers and these are using bands.  So a swimmer would be a full extension with a push back.  And then we could do those alternating arm; we could do a single arm, single leg forward.  There is a ton; whatever you come up with, whatever I could dream up, we do.  Because I’ve got to keep them challenged a little bit.


Here is an example of a swimmer right here.  See the hinge at the hip, pulling down, getting my hands past my knees.  Single-arm, alternating swimmers; and then just a single-arm, one-side swimmer.  So we’re getting into some shoulder stability and some lat strength as well.  And you want to try to develop good lat strength in swimmers.


Push pull exercises, we use XTs—our version of a TRX, okay.  I just like them better; you don’t have to move straps around all the time and all that stuff.  And we’ll do usually three cycles of this, which is about 90-105 reps.  So you can see why doing some of this stuff allows you to shrink your volume down in the pool.


And what we’ll do on these, we’ll do Ys (and you’ll see a picture here). So we’ll hold our bodyweight up here.  We’ll do rows, and then we’ll do an underhand close-grip.  And each time they do these they’re going to move their feet closer to underneath the fulcrum.  So here is a Y, keeping your wrist rigid.  Here is a row; just a bodyweight row.  And then they move their feet closer and then they do an underhand grip row.  So they do 10 of those, 10 of those, 10 of those; that’s one set.  So that’s 30 reps in a set.  And at the same time they’re trying to keep good alignment here.  If they start losing alignment then I stop them because there is no point, she can’t say aligned then stop.


Push pull exercises continue.  This is the progression of the rollout on the stability ball.  We start against the wall.  And look at this (this is a really good picture of this, the serape effect right here).  So you can see how the lats and the abdominals have to work here.  So we start up against the wall; they just rollout and not losing….  So I wouldn’t want them in an L position here; I want them nice and straight.  So they’re streamlined.  And then we progress to eventually where they can get on a ball.  And then once again look, you see here.


Some overhead med-ball slams.  I really like the slams overhead.  It get shoulder, lats; most people think it’s a core exercise but it’s really… we do it for our lats.  So we take a med-ball overhead, and we slam it right into the ground.  We do rainbow slams also, where they’re coming over the top and they’re pivoting on the back foot coming over the front side.


We do a metabolic back circuit that I really like.  Which in this case, metabolic back, we do 20 rows on those bands.  We go 20 rows, 20 alternating rows—where they are bent over—and then they go to 20 swimmers and finish with 10 slams.  So look at the volume here: 70 reps.  And they get your heart-rate jacked-up.  So I can actually condition the same time.  And high school kids, they need that.


I don’t think I can over-train a high school kid, unless I have somebody that has a shoulder injury.  Like I have one swimmer right now that she injured her shoulder last year and she is a really good swimmer.  So like when she does all of her presses and overhead stuff, they’re modified.  I’ll block her; I’ll put a block of wood, full board, in there and she won’t do a press but only a small range of motion.  And she feels great now.  So some of those really long-limbed, long-arm people, you got to be careful of.  That’s metabolic back, which you’ll see all this in video.


Shoulder stability.  We do a three-position shoulder stability, where they’re sitting on a ball.  They start-out here, palm up, overhead, back down.  This is incredibly challenging—incredibly challenging.  So there’s three exercises, and they repeat the pattern.  Where they’ll go here, thumbs up, back overhead, back down; and then they’ll do it thumbs down.  This is one of the hardest things to do right there.


T-push-ups.  We do a lot of T push-ups, especially in our pre-work stuff that we do.  The ropes, like I talked about: lying on a bench, backstroke, all that stuff.  So here is what the ropes actually look like (and then you’ll see it in a video here a little bit).  So this will be a prone rope slam; actually it’s alternating ways.  This is a shoulder T-stability push-up, and this would be a supine, incline rope slam.


Now, when you get all this stuff, you’re going to see all these different circuits.  Don’t be alarmed by this, because you’ll see all this.  I have about 15 videos up here.  So these are circuits that I like to put the swimmer through as their supplemental work.  And I’m not going to go through all these, but you’re going to see most of these—that’s why I want to get to the video as fast as I can.  Now notice in here I put in LB, LB is Lower Body, PP is Push Pull, lower body power of push pull, lower body power alignment core rotation, shoulder stability, shoulder stability, shoulder stability; and then you can mix them anyway you want.


Circuit 2, in this case, notice this is set up by reps.  So 5 reps of an RDL [Romanian dead lift], 3 reps of a track start long jump, 12 reps of a T-rotation push-up, and 20 stability ball twisters or log rolls—because most of them can’t do the twisters yet.  And then somebody asked the question about how many jumps do you do? Well in this case we’ll do 4 rounds of this circuit so there’s 12 jumps.  So it’s not a ton.


Start-turn circuit.  This is our start-turn circuit: stability ball the triple threat ham stuff, and this is usually for time on this: 30 seconds on, 15 second off and rotate.  Jump squats with staggered track starts, med ball lunges, split jumps.


Stroke and power circuit.  Basically this whole thing right here for the lats and upper back.  Now notice right here I put in a little description.  When we do this we’ll do four rounds of it; of 30 seconds on, 15 seconds of rest.  So they’re going 30 seconds here, 15 seconds of rest in transition, 30 seconds here, 15 in between, 30 here, 30 here.  And then 1 minute of rest after a round, and then they start back over.


Lower body mini-circuit.  And this is reps now.  5 reps of a parallel squat, 5 reps of hurdle jumps, one-arm-band swimmers, stability ball rollouts.  Then I’ll just tell them how many reps are doing.


And then another circuit: reaching lunges, three-point planks, med-ball slams, band extensions.


So like I said: you don’t need a lot of equipment to do all this stuff, or a fancy weight room.  It could be anywhere; it could be on the deck of your pool.


[audience member]:  How long do you give them, the time period?


[Wells]:  Usually it’s 30-15 or 20-15.  I just like doing everything with time.


Circuit 7.  Now these are reps here; if you notice these are reps.  So dumbbell lunges, 5 reps per leg; split jumps, 5 reps per leg; rows, 12 reps; band rotations.  You’ll see these circuits in just a little bit.


This is the most painful thing in the world right here; this is what we call super legs.  So they do: 24 bodyweight squats, 24 lunges, 24 split jumps, and then 12 rocket jumps.  All in a sequence.  If you want to develop leg strength.  And this is not loaded; this is just bodyweight.  It’ll do it, and then whey get really good, they can use dumbbells.


Some other circuit examples.  These are just other examples of things that you could do.  For time: 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest.  Med-ball squat-and-press, rope slams, swimmers using a flexi-bar—I have a little bar that looks like a bow and arrow where they do some shoulder stability work, it’s cool and they kind of like it.


And then here is an example of how you can put a whole team—a twenty-person team—circuit together.  (Which I don’t have this one on the video, we just didn’t have enough video space.  And the video is not professional by any means, it’s just kids going is what it is).


Okay, questions before we start the video?  (Because the video is about 28 minutes.)




[audience member]:  This is for high school athletes, obviously.  I’m also coach Age Group athletes; so how early would you start?


[Wells]:  Here is how you determine what age to start them: if they can handle coaching and a little bit of criticism, they’re ready.  Somebody always told me: praise loudly, criticize softly.  So just keep that in my mind.  Question right there.


[audience member]:  What do you recommend for spine strengthening?


[Wells]:  You’re going to see some in just a second.  And then when we get done if you want to see some other stuff, we’ll go up here and go to work.


Like I said, the video is not professional.  Actually it’s me doing a lot of the video, and while I’m yelling at kids.  So you won’t hear the volume, I hope.  (Actually, I’m going to mute it.)  In the video, I do narrate what’s going on—at least, I’m trying to.


Okay now this actually starts with an example of some power work.  So we’re doing hang cleans right here, to actually a dumb-bell/bodyweight power jump.  So we do those Olympic movements, but all their supplemental stuff is all the stuff that I just showed you.  And then we combo those and go right to some jumps.  Just so you can see some… (and those two girls are actually swimmers; these two girls going right here are swimmers).  So she does 5 hand cleans, she goes right to a dumb-bell bodyweight jump; so she is working for triple extension.


[audience member]:  So do any of those start with freshman?


[Wells]:  Yeah.


Okay, here is a mini circuit; this is the first circuit.  Now this is the first times these girls did this.  I think there’s 12 girls in here.  So you’re going to see they’re doing all kinds of stuff.  They’re doing log rolls, they’re doing med-ball squats, here’s the overhead slam (right here, the girl in the green).  They’re doing shoulder and T-push-ups.  If they can’t do a T-push-up, we just do a bodyweight shoulder touch.   There’s a swimmer, right there.  There’s my proctor (sitting down); she is watching them all.


And then they’ll rotate through this circuit here.  There’s a med-ball squat.  Like I said, there’s no weight.  (I know it is a little dark from my point of view.)  There’s some slams, there’s some flexi-bar in there.  So you can see all this is flowing through.  Bodyweight squat jumps.  Actually (right here) they’re trying to do one-arm rope slams.  Now, this is the first time these girls have ever done this, so it’s a little tricky.  Here’s the log roll on the stability ball.  (And I think I zero-in on some of these.)  There is a med-ball squat-and-press.  In the background over there you can see the girl doing the shoulder-touch instead of a T-push-up—she is just not strong enough yet to do a T push-up.  Flexi-bar for shoulder stability going over their head


So essentially what you have here is you have a 10-station circuit.  And that’s how many girls I had in this particular class of swimmers; so these are all the swimmers.  So while this is going on, I have another group in the other side of our weight room doing their stuff.  So this is specific for the swimmers.


Bodyweight squat jumps, there is the overhead slam, there is the one-arm rope slam, there is the swimmers.  And you’ll see in a little more explosive here in a little bit.  There is a one-arm rope slam—and I think I get a video.  (There we go.)  So she is actually trying to get some wave in a rope.


And I think this one was 30 seconds on, 15 second off.  So they get some rest time in between there.  There is a shoulder touch you.  (See how high she is?)  So you’re going to see a lot of good things, you’ll see a lot of poor technique too, which is what you guys would be faced with.  So you just coach them over time; you get better, you get better, you get better.  And that’s a hard thing for a high school kids to understand is: it’s consistency over time.  Because training is a cumulative effect, and they can’t usually see till tomorrow.


There’s a T-rotation push-up, right here.  Now if we have time at the end somebody remind me to show you the correct way to do a push-up.  Because there is actually some secrets to do a really good push-up, and you can develop a lot of upper-body strength just doing push-ups.


And then I think we’re getting ready to go on here to the next sequence here.  There is a log roll, where they’re trying to lock it in.  See how she is breaking at the waist.  There are shoulder touches: just another way to do upper-body shoulder-stability work.  So we’re just touching the shoulder.  See how her hips turn-off to the side there?  Now if she were doing this now, she would not be turning those hips—that’s how much she has progressed at this.


Alright, here is the next sequence.  Okay these are RDLs; so in this case she is going to do 5 RDLs.  She is going to go to the track-start jumps.  And in this case they’re just doing reps.  So all these girls, they have all the stuff set up (as you can see) and then they’re just moving-through for reps.


There is a staggered stance jump.  (Like I said, this is the first time she has done it; I’d rather see her get her butt up in the air, instead of her head up, because that’s not how she is going to be on the blocks.)


T-rotation push-up.  Remember I said if there are only four things I could do, this would be one of them.  Because you get an incredible strength in shoulder stability and core work at the same time.  To they try to turn their feet and T-out at the same time.


There is the bosu-ball hold in the background.  See them holding it there.  And a couple of these girls are really good at this; I mean, you can tell they’ve got some really good, stiff spines and they can lock it in there.


Then after this then we’re going to go the start-turn circuit, so you’ll see that on here.  (Like I said, the video is fairly long so we’ve got some time.)  There’s a log roll.  See how her right elbow collapses in?  So we’re actually trying to lock that out, with no elbow bend.


And I was a little leery about these, about L5 vertebrate.  Because in your body, your low back is only meant to rotate 15°, but yet everybody trains it to rotate more.  And that’s why people get low-back injuries.  And then your upper back really is supposed to have all the mobility in it, and yet it’s the one that’s always locked up and nobody works for a mobility in it.  So it doesn’t make sense.  But as you notice on those log rolls, the low back isn’t even moving; it’s just the hips that move around.


And this is in real-time, so you’re actually seeing them do the work for the time or the reps.  Those are RDLs, Romanian Dead Lifts—although the Romanians didn’t invent it, I don’t know why we call it that.


[audience member]:  Is this video available on your website?


[Wells]:  No, but I have 15 copies with me if you want one.


Okay here is the start-turn circuit.  So they’re doing stability-ball bridges, or hip ups; they’re doing jump squat with staggered starts; and then they’re going to do a med-ball lunges; and then they’re going to go to split jumps.




[audience member]:  They don’t look like they’re holding for more than two seconds.


[Wells]:  No, this was the first time we’ve done this.  Yeah.  I want them to hold, it in the bottom.  This is just a lunge with a twist over the front leg.


This girl right here, she’s not too enthused to be doing this. [laughter]  And you’ll have some of those.  Neither is this girl.  These two don’t work very hard.  The other ones that I have, they work pretty hard, they’re pretty motivated.


There is the split jumps, just bodyweight split jumps.  And like I said this is the first time; eventually they’ll start getting higher and they’ll start dropping deeper.


Now this goes into the stroke circuit, the power circuit; so these are swimmers.  Now this girl is a pretty decent swimmer.  And we’ll fix her: she is a lot better at this now.  I wish I had a before-and-after picture, because when she does this now, she gets full extension over the top, comes back behind the ears.  You can see how she is a little bit in front of her face here, and she hinges at the hip a lot better now.  So I know this stuff works.


So she’s resting right now.  So what she is going to do is: she is doing swimmers, she is going to do bent-over rows with the bands, she is going to do an overhead med-ball slam, and then she is going to do a stability-ball rollout.  So this would all be for the lats and the upper back.  So you can target areas or you could train total body; you can mix-and-match it however you want to do it—that’s a whole another topic.


See how she is not real explosive here, yet.  You should see her now, after a year of training.  Now she is going to go to a stability-ball rollout.  Now watch… watch and see if she keeps this hip lined-up with this shoulder.  Okay.  See how she gives a little bit at the end?  And eventually progress up to where they’re on their toes and they’re just going out with their arms.  And then eventually we take some valslides and put them under their hands, and then they do a rollout with a lot of friction so they have to pull on the way back.


Okay, now she is going to go through it again.  These are alternating swimmers this time; so she’s alternating.  And I’d like to see her get a little more extension with her arms and a lot more row.  Then we just hook our bands onto our platforms, a little caribiner clip that I bolted on there that we can just take them on and off.


And these are what we call JC bands, so they are a double band, they have a little loop on the end, and there is a band that comes off into a T, so it’s two bands.  A very versatile piece of equipment.  So if you don’t have a weight room and you have some money to buy something, these would be the things to buy.  They’re not real expensive.  If you ever want equipment go to Perform Better, (www.performbetter.com) and ask for Chris Poier and you’ll get a big discount on equipment.  It’s spelled P-O-I-E-R, but it’s pronounced poy-yay.


So once again all these swimmers are doing this little stroke circuit here.  Okay, this is a lower-body mini-circuit.  So what she is going to do is: 5 reps of a good squat, then she is going to go to 5 hurdle jumps.  Now this is the first time she has jumped what I call a repeat jump, so it’s going to be a little ugly.  (It’s not too bad.)  See she should stick that last landing and see how slow she is off the floor.  So she is doing 5 squats, 5 jumps, one-arm-band swimmers—so she is just do a one arm on the swimmer now—and then she’ll finish with a stability-ball rollout.


So usually I have about 48 kids at one time; I think my smallest group is 33.  So I’ve got to stay on-top of stuff.  But once I teach this to the swimmers—and now they know it all—then I just program it up on the board, okay this is your supplemental work, and they go right to it.  I don’t have to worry about them; for the most part, they’re pretty self-motivated.


Okay here is the rollout.  Now she is doing a lot better job here.  Then eventually we get her to go out a little bit further.


[audience member]:  Do you want the lower back to arch like that?


[Wells]:  Nah. She has just got a natural… this girl has a really natural lordotic curve in her back.


Okay, this is another circuit where they’re doing reaching lunges—these are reaching lunges.  And then they’re going to go to a three-point plank.  And this is what I call a lunge complex.  So they do 6 lunges to the front, they do 6 lateral lunges. (See how this girl turns her foot; we don’t want her to turn her foot.)  And then they go into the transverse plane and they do a transverse lunge; where they’re trying to keep that front foot at twelve o’clock and that back foot at five o’clock.  This is a great, great ACL knee prevention program right here.


And then you’re going to go to… there is a three-point plank.  Trying to lock-in, with no hip-shift—that’s what I tell them. Actually, what I tell them is this: you’ve got a quarter between your ass cheeks, try to bend it.  That’s what I tell them.  I tell them to hold their money.  And they just do this for time.


Then they’re going to the med-ball slams overhead.


Also know, see how this girl’s little ponytail flips-up in the back?  That’s why I like training girls because I get immediate feedback.  I know they’re developing some force; there is force transfer going through the ground, through their body, up through their head.


And these are what we call band extensions.  See how they’re rotating, they’re pivoting, on that opposite foot?  So what they do is reaching down the middle, they’re going outside one knee, back to the middle, outside the other knee.  This is one of my favorite core exercises too—actually there is a ton of them, but this is one my favorite.  And she makes it look easy, but she’s done this a couple of times.


Okay, here is the split squat.  Just so you can see what the spit squat actually looks like.  Here is the split jump.  See how she drops deep.  I really don’t care how high she gets, I just want her to drop deep.  So all those things that we talk about.


There is a progression of an anterior reach, pretty simple.  Then she is going to progress to… (I don’t know if we put it on here).  So she is just taking her opposite hand, touching her opposite toe.  Now we progress to one leg; so we now we’re balancing on one leg.  So we start on two legs, because their balance is very poor—remember I said they can’t chew gum and tie their shoes at the same time.  And then we actually have more progressions off of that.


Here’s a double-leg hip0up on the stability ball.  Very good hamstring/low back/glute tie-in.  Leg curl on the ball; so you hip-up, hold that hip-up, in-and-out.  And then they could progress to the single leg.  This girl can actually do this 15 reps on each leg, three times through, with no rest now.  And then she does the hip-up within a long a longer level.


This is the Dynamax Series 1.  Okay she is doing side-to-side touches.  Remember I said we want core stiffness?  This is one of my favorites.  She is touching the wall as fast as she can go, with no rotation.  She’s trying to resist the rotation that the ball is putting on her.  These are diagonals.  So she is trying to get 40 of those contacts in 15 seconds, then she rests or her partner goes—in this case we’re just showing you the video.  Very good core stuff here, very good core stuff.  Every time the ball touches the wall, counts as one rep.  Diagonals the other way.


(We’re getting close to the end here, so just hang on, stay with me.)


Wood chops.  Nothing touches the wall but the ball.


That ball is actually a 12-pound ball; now this girl is really advanced.  I usually start them with 4-pound balls.  So I have 4s, 6s and 8s.  If you’re going to get some of these, I would definitely get 4s, 6s and 8s.  But this is a 12-pounder, and she’s knocking this out pretty good.  This is a square so she is going: up, down right, up left, down left, and back across.


This is Dynamax Series 2.  Knee punch, knee punch, come up throwing.  10 punches, right back to it.  Knee punch, knee punch, between the legs, back overhead, come up throwing, right back to it.  Repeat it, and that’s one set.  Very good core stuff.


There is the progression for the rollouts.  Then we go to the floor.  Then we go to a push-up position.  Then we can go on to the ball.  Actually, another really good one that I like is when they’re holding themselves in the push-up position on the ball, and all they do is just roll the ball a little bit to one direction.  So they go clockwise, counterclockwise, and then small in-and-outs.  It’ll tear your abs up.


There is the dead-bug series.  Then she is going to go to the touches.  And she is trying to go… see how deliberate she is here.  It’s not a fast thing.  Then she’ll go to the in-and-outs.


(We’re on the core stuff right now we got a little bit shoulder stuff left then we’ll be done.)


There’s the holds.  Look at this position, right here.  See that?  What does that look like to you guys?  Out of the blocks.  Flip turn on the wall.  That’s what you want to try to get to.


Here is an example of drummers on the ropes.  Very good shoulder work, arm work, core work.  Here is double slams.  So we use a lot of tools.


[audience member]:  What kind of ropes are those?


[Wells]:  These ropes are actually 25-pound ropes, I believe.  And I think they’re 40 footers.


In-and-outs, trying to make waves on the floor.  Squat-and-lunge or squat-and-drummers at the same time; you could do any combination of these you wanted.  Here we go on to bench.  I love that exercise; there is a lot of things going on there.  Then supine on an incline.


There’s a start plank.  See how the top leg has to come over and touch, and she holds that T-push-up position.  That’s one of my favorite core exercises, because there is a ton of stuff going on right there—a ton.  So what we’re trying to do here is… (see this?).  Look at this, this is pretty good.  See that alignment.  And she’s looking right up at this top hand the whole time.  And she takes this back leg over to back, holds it, tries to keep the hips up high.  When you go home try that.


There is a three-point planks—you can mix it up anyway you want it.  You see how when she goes opposite arm or in left arm, she has got a little bit of a hip-shift.  This girl is really strong.


Okay here is the triple threat back.  There is the Ys.  Moves her feet in a little closer, she does some rows—the rows aren’t very good.  Then she got to move her feet even closer, slides it right in, tries to keep… now see how she is bending here?  We don’t want that; we want to keep everything nice and straight.  And then she does 10 more palms-up rows.


Here is the metabolic back in real time.  So she is doing 20 of these.  Look at the extension in the top; now it is happening real fast, so it’s kind of hard to see.  20 rows.  (She needs to back-up a little bit more, the band is too light for her.)  20 alternating rows.  So right now, she is getting ready to complete 60 reps.  Then she finishes off with 10 overhead med-ball slams, so that’s 70 reps.  And then she is going to do the same sequence, so you can see it again.  This is our metabolic back circuit.


And there is alternating one arm.  There is single-arm swimmers.  This is hard to do, because the band actually wants to pull you back.  Overhead med-ball slam, that she is going to show you.  Here’s a diagonal slam coming up.  Now she’s is really slowed it down, because I told her slow down for a video.  See how she’s turning her feet and coming over to top, that’s one of my favorite core exercise.


Here is the shoulder workout that I told you about; shoulder stability.  These are palms-up, horizontal flies.  She’ll do 5 each of these.  And I like them on a stability ball on this.  Just gives a little variation, where they’ve got to be a little bit unstable.  I’m not big on that stuff, but I like it on a stability ball.  So now she’s in a thumbs-up position.  And this is real-time, she’s actually doing a whole bang here.  And then its thumbs down, palms down.


(Okay we’re almost done; we’ll be done in 5 minutes.)  I knew I had a lot of stuff and there’s so much we could talk about.


T push-ups.  (And we’re on the last part of this anyway.)  Here is what a T push-up looks like. A lot of bang for your buck right there.


[audience member]:  Is that a push-up that you normally do?


[Wells]:  Well, fairly close.  Here is what I teach on push-ups.  (I’ll just let this roll; there is stability-ball pike.)


On push-ups here is what I try to do.  I want everybody to know this.  I teach: you draw a midline with the midline of your body.  And you want your arm somewhere… make an arrow with your arms, so somewhere here.  I don’t like them here, I don’t like them at 90-90.  I try to stay away from as much 90-90 position, here, overhead pressing, and here, as I can.  Alright?  So we try to get them in an arrow: arrow with this arm, arrow with this arm, midline.  And then I try to get their fingers to slightly point out, because you’ve got more receptors in this part of your hand than just about the rest of your body.  So if they can learn to develop strength that way, you could increase strength in your presses quite a bit.


One of my favorite push-up routines is this, now.  I don’t remember where I picked it up, so I can’t give the person credit.  We’ll get in a push-up position and we’ll do three push-ups in the very bottom; I mean 1, 2, 3.   Then we’ll go to the middle of that push-up, do 3.  And then we do 3 full.  And then we repeat that 3 more times.  That’s one set, so that’s 27 reps in a set.  Alright?


I don’t even care if… girls will always ask me: can I do a push up on my knee?  No.  I don’t care if your range of motion is this far.  Just get yourself in the right position, and over time you’re going to get better and better and better.


Okay, I think I’m running out of time.  I certainly appreciate the opportunity to share some ideas with you, because like I said: everything I’ve learned I’ve learned from some other really good people and just tweaked it a little bit and made my own system out of it.  If I can help you in anyway, my e-mail is up there, just e-mail me.


Appreciate your time.



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