Thesis: Wearable Resistance Technology to Enhance Swimming Performance (Study 1)

Quirke (20)


Purpose Statement:

The aims were to determine the acute metabolic effects of variable proximal upper limb loading using WRT during submaximal swimming



The principle of training specificity indicates that added resistance training in swimming will be more effective if applied through the exact stroke mechanism in an aquatic environment. Fifteen (male=7; female=8) national level swimmers completed two sessions, with 24 hrs recovery in between. The first session involved determination of the subjects’ lactate threshold using a 7x200m incremental step test. The second session required each subject to complete 6x200m freestyle swims at individualized submaximal speeds with variable loads ranging from 0g-500g proximally loaded to each arm using WRT. During each swim the subjects were randomly assigned one of six WR loads [0g (control), 100g, 200g, 300g, 400g, 500g] to be proximally loaded to each upper arm compression sleeve (Figure 19). RPE was also collected after each 200m to see if the subjects identified a difference in difficulty between the different WR loads


Figure 19: Proximal Upper Arm Loading of Wearable Resistance


Key Findings:

  1. There was no substantial difference in swim times for males between any WR loaded trials
  2. There was no increase in RPE in males (mean: 15.4 ± 2.1 RPE)
  3. Males experienced substantially higher BL levels when loads exceeded 300g; females BL levels were unclear
    1. 400g: ↑74 ± 1.32 mmol-1, 0.41, (-0.13 – 0.96)
    2. 500g: ↑40 ± 3.06mmol-1, 1.29, (-0.06-2.63)
  4. There were significantly slower swim speeds with loads over 300g for females
    1. 400g (↑11 ± 2.56sec, 1.9%, (0.8-3.1))
    2. 500g (↑05 ± 2.35sec, 2.6%, (1.4-3.8))
  5. There was a significantly small increase in female RPE over 200g loading trials compared to the control (0g)
    1. 300g (↑2 ± 1.9RPE, 0.53, (-0.19 – 1.25))
    2. 400g (↑1 ± 1.9RPE, 0.58, (-0.11 – 1.27))
    3. 500g trial (↑1 ± 2.3RPE, 0.58, (-0.26 – 1.42))


Practical Applications:

  1. Males and females respond differently to added WR upper arm loads during submaximal swimming
  2. Wearable resistance during swimming may be used to influence the “training zone” of the male athlete, likely by changing the input of each energy system and applying overload to the upper body musculature
  3. Females may not be strong enough to withstand higher loads during swimming and maintain swimming speeds
  4. Upper arm WR loads exceeding 300g may be too high for female swimming athletes
  5. For swimming, gender specific loading and training manipulation is necessary


Link to Publication

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