Swimmers must have extreme upper-body power and endurance to propel themselves through the water. They rely heavily on their latissimus dorsi—commonly referred to as the lats—to extend and adduct their upper arms during the swimming stroke, creating the primary driving force in the water.
Swimmers need to generate power from the lats while also flutter-kicking and keeping their torso firm. Training the body in a way that mimics this movement pattern can be difficult in the weight room, especially for the butterfly stroke, which involves the entire body. Traditional weight-training exercises are commonly performed upright, or in a locked position on the floor. This is not optimal for swimmers because the swimming strokes use many muscle groups simultaneously in a rhythmic and coordinated fashion.
The solution to improving the efficacy of a weight room swimming workout is to perform heavy rope exercises on a Roman chair. Battle rope exercises are typically performed standing up, but swimmers should try doing them with a Roman chair. This allows a swimmer to hold a supine position (i.e., facing the ground with a straight body) while simultaneously engaging every active swimming muscle. The waves of the rope challenge the swimming stroke muscles, and swimmers can generate power from the hips in a dolphin kick motion. The core must stabilize and the entire body must work together to help swing the ropes. The harder you swing, the more difficult the exercise becomes.