Triathletes that include backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly into their workouts along with practicing different pulling and kicking patterns will gain training and racing benefits above and beyond their competitors.

I strongly believe that only practicing freestyle is a waste of time. Adding different strokes around your freestyle sets will help make you a stronger and faster swimmer. In this addition of Workout Wednesday Powered by BioAstin I want to share my top five reasons to include the variety of skills in your swim sessions:

1.   Recruits Different Muscles. Implementing the other strokes including fly, back and breast recruits the support musculature for the shoulder, back and triceps. The added muscular load enhances the strength of the freestyle muscles. It’s important to include non-free sets that are not just “stretch out” lengths because the higher the effort will elevate and improve the overall muscular adaptation. See below for my suggested interval set.

2.  Increases Joint Mobility and Flexibility. Swimming a variety of strokes helps improve the mobility and flexibility of the surrounding connective tissue, tendons, fascia and muscles specifically for the shoulders, pecs, lats and thoracic spine. A slight gain in shoulder flexion (reaching overhead) by simulating backstroke is a great example. The other strokes create a dynamic stretch on the noted areas and will help improve your overall mobility which will also lead to speedier freestyle efforts!

3. Recruits Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers. Swimming fly, back and breaststroke combined with hard fin kicking–specifically back dolphin and back flutter kick–also revs up the recruitment of fast twitch fibers. This is a huge plus for training and racing by sparing muscle glycogen and elevating post metabolic fat burning. Lean tissue and loss of fat are two potential positive gains.

4. Heightens Your Kinesthetic Sense. Fly, back and breaststroke also heightens your kinesthetic sense or your awareness of hand, arm and body movement during the recovery stroke and while applying the underwater forces. A keen awareness allows you to make subtle changes by acquiring a better “feel” in the water.

5. Improves Core Stability. Swimming a variety of stokes will also improve your core strength and stability. This will also help you ultimately become a stronger and faster swimmer.

How to Include Other Strokes In Your Swim Session

Adding additional strokes and fast kicking in your workout can be included around your freestyle sets. I recommend starting with short segments of 25s and include 12 to 30 x 25s in each workout of alternate strokes and back flutter and fly kick. This could be done as a mixture in 1 to 3 sets throughout your workout. Also, you can use fins in these sets if you prefer. My favorites are the Finis Floating Fins. Although note that if you want to include a proper breaststroke it’s best to take your fins off for those 25s.

Expand your horizons and add some backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle into your sessions. If you do these drills let me know your thoughts. Get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter.


#WorkoutWednesday is powered by BioAstin, one of my top 5 recommended supplements.  BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that supports cardiovascular health and muscle recovery… perfect for athletes who are training hard.