Indian clubs are hardly a new form of training. Their history goes back to ancient times and it was even an Olympic event in 1904 and 1932. They fell out of fashion for a time, but, as with the kettlebell, they’ve seen a renaissance over the last decade. Now they’re used primarily as training tools for overhead athletes and throwers. As a swim coach I’ve seen a big crossover for the tool. Below I explain why I feel Indian clubs are so essential to our training, as well as ideas on how to use them.
The benefits of Indian clubs
Swimming is a unique sport that requires athletes to maintain a high level of mobility and stability in the shoulders, back, and hips, while also generating power and speed in the water. Swimming is multi-faceted, and one of the reason I like Indian clubs so much is that they are too. Here are some of the key benefits I find, as well as how they translate to our sport:
- Mobility and stability – One of the primary benefits of Indian clubs for swimmers is improved shoulder mobility and stability. Swimmers rely heavily on their shoulders to generate power and speed in the water, which can put a lot of strain on these joints. Indian clubs can help to improve shoulder mobility by incorporating multi-planar movements that challenge the joint in different ways. This can lead to a stronger, more flexible shoulder girdle, which can reduce the risk of injury and improve swimming performance.
- Coordination and body control – In addition to shoulder mobility, Indian clubs can also help swimmers to develop better core stability and body control. The circular and figure-eight patterns of Indian club exercises require a high degree of coordination and balance, which can translate into better body awareness in the water. This can help swimmers to maintain good posture and body position, which can improve swimming technique and efficiency.
- Strength and endurance – Indian clubs can also be used to develop grip strength and forearm endurance, which are important for swimmers who rely on their upper body to pull themselves through the water. The weighted bulbs at the end of Indian clubs can be used to challenge grip strength and forearm endurance, which can translate into more powerful strokes and greater overall swimming speed.
- Fun and a new challenge – Finally, Indian clubs can be a fun and engaging training tool for swimmers. Many swimmers find traditional strength training exercises to be repetitive and boring, but Indian clubs offer a unique and challenging alternative. The rhythmic nature of the movements can be both calming and energizing, which can make training more enjoyable and effective.
Using of Indian clubs
If you reading this and already have Indian clubs, then I’m preaching to the choir. But if you don’t have Indian clubs one of the main barriers might by getting enough equipment for a large team. That’s actually easier than expected. For our clubs at GAIN Swimming we simply buy handles that can be attached to a water bottle as in the picture above. Fill the bottle with water (which is easy to find at our training) and you have yourself and Indian club. These are cheaper, easier to store, and we can even take them on the road to swim meets. The maximum weight will be just a few pounds, but when you consider the weight is at the end of a long lever (your arm) that is more than enough to get a good stimulus.
Now what exactly do you do with them. We share all types of examples up on our GAIN Swimming Instagram account. But below is an example of on circuit we frequently use in the warm ups. It’s called Quick Clubs and consists of five exercises:
- Arm circles
- Arm crossovers
- Standing backstroke
- Double club twist
- Over under
Taken as a whole, we are working long ranges of motion across all three planes of movement. We are ticking all of the boxes listed above in under a minute with no learning curve. Take a look for yourself:
In conclusion, Indian clubs are a versatile training implement that can benefit swimmers in a number of ways. By incorporating Indian club exercises into their training regimen, swimmers can improve shoulder mobility and stability, develop better core stability and body control, and enhance grip strength and forearm endurance. So, if you’re a swimmer looking to take your performance to the next level, consider adding Indian clubs to your training toolbox.