Isolated Core Training Improves Sprint Performance in National-Level Junior Swimmers

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To quantify the effects of a 12-wk isolated core-training program on 50-m front-crawl swim time and measures of core musculature functionally relevant to swimming.


Twenty national-level junior swimmers (10 male and 10 female, 16 ± 1 y, 171 ± 5 cm, 63 ± 4 kg) participated in the study. Group allocation (intervention [n = 10], control [n = 10]) was based on 2 preexisting swim-training groups who were part of the same swimming club but trained in different groups. The intervention group completed the core training, incorporating exercises targeting the lumbopelvic complex and upper region extending to the scapula, 3 times/wk for 12 wk. While the training was performed in addition to the normal pool-based swimming program, the control group maintained their usual pool-based swimming program. The authors made probabilistic magnitude-based inferences about the effect of the core training on 50-m swim time and functionally relevant measures of core function.


Compared with the control group, the core-training intervention group had a possibly large beneficial effect on 50-m swim time (–2.0%; 90% confidence interval –3.8 to –0.2%). Moreover, it showed small to moderate improvements on a timed prone-bridge test (9.0%; 2.1–16.4%) and asymmetric straight-arm pull-down test (23.1%; 13.7–33.4%), and there were moderate to large increases in peak EMG activity of core musculature during isolated tests of maximal voluntary contraction.


This is the first study to demonstrate a clear beneficial effect of isolated core training on 50-m front-crawl swim performance.

Weston and Spears are with the Sport and Exercise Subject Group, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK. Hibbs is with the Dept of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. Thompson is with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia. Address author correspondence to Matthew Weston at