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Alessandro Miressi: success and strength training of a professional swimmer

by Gabriele Ferraresi, LUZ
He is the big promise of Italian swimming. Just twenty years old - was born on October 2, 1998 - Alessandro Miressi, 203 cm by 93 kg, has already a noteworthy prize list, where the gold medal in the 100m freestyle at the European Championships in Glasgow 2018 stands out.

That’s not all: also in Glasgow Alessandro Miressi, also known as Mirex or Drago, won a silver in the relay 4x100m freestyle and a bronze in the 4x100m. Going back again, when Miressi was of age or little more, he won a parade of silver medals at European and World 50m Championships and at the Mediterranean Games.

The gold of Miressi in Glasgow in the 100 freestyle
We ask Alessandro Miressi about his feeling as he dives into the pool: "let’s say that in those moments before the dive in the pool "I see myself again" and I just think about how to do the race. I think about how it could go, what could happen - says the young Miressi - but to tell the truth when I'm in the pool on 100 meters freestyle I don't think about anything. Being a short race, you have little to think about, you just have to go fast, that's all. Just push as hard as you can, that's the beauty!” It seems easy to put it like that.

However, if you think about it, it really is like that: what matters is to go faster than the others.

Absolute concentration before the start, meditation, complex techniques of visualization of the result before the dive? Alessandro Miressi replies: "No, I don't have any particular technique to concentrate before diving". For someone who was born in the water and grew up in a family of sportsmen, with his parents divided between a baseball and softball, and Olympic canoeing cousin, things seem "easy". They're not. Because effort and sacrifice are what make the difference:

How much do I train? I do 9/10 workouts plus 3 gym sessions per week. Two and a half hours a day in the pool, every day. All year round.

Miressi at the World Youth Swimming Championships
Thousands and thousands of dives and strokes to reconcile with the study, since Alessandro Miressi is studying Physical Education in Turin.

“I started at primary school - Miressi recalls - and I loved swimming because I really like competition, the direct challenge: competing with other people amuses me. I don't know how to explain it well”. To put it bluntly: "I just enjoy swimming", he concludes.

What’s next for our Alessandro Mirex Miressi? The World Swimming Championships, from 12 to 28 July 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea: we will sure hear about him.

Swimmer’s workout: from the amateur to Miressi

Quoting a maxim that will never get old, "swimming is the most complete of sports". Although it is one of the most inflated clichés in the world, this saying is undoubtedly true. To confirm this, it is sufficient to observe the statuesque physiques of the elite swimmers, a result of hours and hours in the pool and of an infinite number of strokes until exhaustion.

Complete as it may be, for Alessandro Miressi and many other professional and amateur swimmers, swimming is only part of the weekly training routine. In fact, swimming is a cardio sport, so it is a sport of physical endurance and, excluding sprints in the water, it does not provide for targeted strength training.

Swimming, although the most complete of sports, is purely cardio.
In addition, swimming does not allow strength training being a sport practised in the absence of gravity, where the thrust of the body is applied to a fluid that by definition does not provide a stable foothold, and therefore a high percentage of focused strength.

To overcome this, according to Miressi himself, gym training is fundamental, comoosing the other half of his routine schedule

Strength training: the advantages for the swimmer

Contrarily to old schoolers that preach training exclusively in the pool, nowadays gym training is practised for the many advantages it brings to the swimmer. Among these, the most important ones are:

  • Better control and activation of your body
  • Increased power
  • Exponential increase and maintenance of muscle strength
Strength training is essential for professional and non-professional swimmers.
If better control and activation of the body is essential to improve motor coordination in movements not trained in swimming, power training is absolutely essential in the sprint phases: in this case, the difference - even at the visual level, as in the case of Alessandro Miressi - between those who practice gym training and those who do not is obvious.

Related to the increase in power, those who practice strength training not only have an exponential increase in their muscle mass, but they also maintain it, preventing muscle mass “erosion” by pool training.

Training like Alessandro Miressi: 3 swimmers' exercises for muscle strength training

Traditional gym training for swimmer is hypertrophic and with loads. As in the case of Alessandro Miressi, the training indicated for a professional swimmer is a maximum of 3 times a week, while gym sessions for amateurs fall down to two. Gym training involves the whole body, although with less attention to the shoulders.
Workout like Miressi!
In this section, we will analyse how to do 3 of the most practised exercises by professional swimmers:

Low rower with wide grip

Holding your back 45° to the floor and looking forward, bend your legs slightly, widening them as much as the width of your shoulders. By contracting your buttocks and femoral muscles, hold the barbell with a medium grip (a little wider than your shoulders width), keeping your back straight and at the same angle as the starting position. Pull the barbell towards the lower part of the sternum, keeping your elbows close to your hips and making sure that the barbell always stays close to your body.
flexed-bust rower with Olympic barbell
As you move, contract the shoulder blades in the eccentric phase and release them during the concentric phase, repositioning the barbell on the ground. Then repeat.

Horizontal Leg Press

Sitting on the machine with your back and head resting against the padded support, place your feet on the footplate at a distance of about the width of your hip, making sure your heels are flat. The legs should form an angle of about 90 degrees to the knees.

Grasp the support handles, contract your abdominal muscles and push the platform away with your heel and forefoot. Heels should remain flat on the platform. While exhaling, stretch your legs and keep your head and back flat against the seat cushion. Extend with slow control rather than explosive movement.

Leg press on the Artis line by Technogym
Hold the position for the upper part of the movement. Do not block your knees and make sure they are not bent. During inhalation, return the footplate to the starting position by gradually bending your knees. Keep your feet and back flat all the time.

High Cable French Press

The starting position sees the athlete standing with his shoulders opposite the equipment and his elbows extended. The shoulders are also bent so that arms and chest are in line from a lateral view and partially abducted. The grip is neutral or prone/neutral. The execution consists in flexing only the elbows by little more than 90°, and then extending them again avoiding rebounds in the change of direction.
French Press from high cable on the Technogym Cable station

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