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Arm and leg power output in swimmers during simulated swimming


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 7 - p 1288-1292
Applied Sciences: Biodynamics

SWAINE, I. L. Arm and leg power output in swimmers during simulated swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 7, pp. 1288–1292, 2000.

Purpose Previously, it has not been possible to compare power output of the arms and legs during simulated swimming using dry-land ergometry. The purpose of this study was to determine arm-pulling and leg-kicking power using isokinetic dry-land ergometry.

Methods Twenty-two highly trained male swimmers of mean (± SD) age, 23 ± 3.6 yr; body mass, 78 ± 5.9 kg; and stature, 1.79 ± 0.04 m were recruited to the study. First, subjects performed 10 s of all-out exercise at each of five resistance settings, with 1 h rest in between, to determine the best maximal pull velocity (MPVopt). Second, they performed an all-out 30-s test at MPVopt, which was repeated the following day. These repeated 30-s tests were performed separately using simulated front-crawl arm-pulling and leg-kicking, on a computer-interfaced swim bench and purpose-built leg-kicking ergometer. Peak and mean power output (PPO; MPO) were determined from regression analysis of the power vs time relationship.

Results The mean (± SEM) PPO for arms and legs were 304 ± 22 W versus 435 ± 36 W. For MPO, the means were 225 ± 31 W vs 312 ± 26 W, respectively. These values were attained at mean MPVopt of 2.5 ± 0.2 m·s1 for arms and 2.3 ± 0.4 m·s1 for legs. The variation in PPO from repeated testing was 7.3% for arms and 8.3% for legs.

Conclusions These results show that the legs can sustain greater power output than the arms during simulated swimming. Also, the intra-subject variation in measurement of power output is small using these dry-land ergometers. These methods of assessment might be useful in explaining swimming performance and in monitoring changes that take place during training.

Physiology of Exercise, De Montfort University Bedford, Bedford, UNITED KINGDOM

Submitted for publication March 1997.

Accepted for publication November 1997.

Address for correspondence: Ian L. Swaine, De Montfort University Bedford, 37, Lansdowne Rd., Bedford, MK40 2BZ, United Kingdom; E-mail:

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.