Using Weights at YOUR Synchro Practice

I love getting emails from my followers and one of you asked me about using weights for training. What a great question. Now I have not ever seen anything official written nor have I ever been taught anything in any of the many courses that I have taken.

Having said that, I have asked some professors about their thoughts and based on my years of coaching I have come up with a few guidelines.

  1. Only use light ankle weights on swimmers who have hit puberty. Light weights are 1-2.5 lbs per weight.
  2. Depending on the movement place the weights only one joint away. By that I mean put the weights around the bicep or the thigh because most movements are occurring from the shoulder or the hips. In some instances its okay to put it around the ankle. I am okay if the weight is around the ankle if the leg is being held or if the movement is a normal movement. A weight around the ankles is okay in vertical to split opens. I would NEVER put weights on the ankles in IMG_2560eggbeater.
  3. Put the weights around the torso if possible. Many swimmers feel more balanced with the weights around the torso.
  4. Train with weights every other day. The body needs breaks from the volume of weights.
  5. Always train quality with weights ons.
  6. Beware of the effects of the weights on the balance of your swimmers in the water. It may throw their balance off therefore creating undesired results. Play around with where you put the weights. Perhaps a better option would be to have the swimmers wear leggings in the water. I find it makes the swimmers lose a sense of where their legs are and they push themselves higher. It also creates a bit of drag without all the volume weights creates. I have used leggings for weeks at a time with my older groups. Some swimmers do not react to wearing leggings so make sure you are testing your swimmers to make sure you are seeing improvement.
  7. Use weights to educate your swimmers. I have found that many swimmers do not know how to use the water to get height so weights forces them to scull wiser. Then have them do the same skill without to notice what their arms are doing now.
  8. Weights can be great for flexibility. Make sure you are monitoring your results though to make sure your swimmers are improving.
  9. Always beware of the safety of swimmers. If swimmers are doing a hard set it may not be wise to have them wear weights. The weights can make it harder for swimmers to swim to the surface if they are having issues. Always supervise swimmers with weights on.

The most important points to remember are:

  • Always periodize your training when using weights. There needs to be full practices without weights to allow swimmers recover.
  • Only use weights if they benefit your swimmers.
  • Track their progress to see if the weight training is working.
  • Use weights with swimmers past puberty.
  • Watch your swimmers if they wearing weights especially if you train in a deep pool.

Yours in Synchro,

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 9.28.10 AM


  1. Andreas Faupel on April 2, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    Howdy! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I’ll send this article to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vanessa Keenan on April 4, 2016 at 9:26 AM

      Glad you liked it.

  2. Lily on March 3, 2017 at 5:44 PM

    Can you do an article on tips and exercises to making a stronger eggbeater and skull? Also, can you do a how-to on the support skull and how to strengthen it.

  3. […] Training large amounts of volume will not increase the fitness level of younger athletes. Their bodies do not have the ability to improve that way. However, whole swims and workouts may be used for other purposes such as training concentration. Remember with younger swimmers you need to keep it fun or they will leave. Weights are never okay for young swimmers. Check out this blog post on Using Weights at your Practice.  […]

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Top 4 Olympic Qualifier Tech Teams 2016

Get your FREE DOWNLOAD today!

Includes all pattern changes and swimmer positions.