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CSS Help: Fix my Pulls (Top arm / Bottom arm) & Recovery

Stew smith

CSS Help: Fix my Pulls
(Top arm / Bottom arm) & Recovery

If you want to work on your force production and energy efficiency with the CSS, master the arm-pulling motions, as they can produce a huge amount of speed with smaller muscles using less energy (compared to leg/kicking). In the case of the Combat Side Stroke (CSS), the top arm is the workhorse of the two arm pulls, and the bottom arm is not so much but can be used to help with a slight lift to inhale (get face out of the water) and streamlining.  See more about the individual steps of the arm propulsion, recovery, and gliding importance placed on the arms of the CSS.  (Watch slow motion explanation of the pulls and more).

TOP ARM PULL - "Turn with the Top." You will hear me say this when coaching how this head turn to breathe is timed in the stroke. Just like in a freestyle turn to breathe, it is the same exact movement and timing of the arm pull and head turn. 

Turn your head so your face (not your entire head) is out of the water. In fact, keep your bottom ear submerged during the top arm pull which is nothing more than a "freestyle catch and turn to inhale" just like in the breathing stroke of freestyle of crawl stroke swim. Learning to grab water and pull/push it behind you will build the type of horizontal power you need. Watch this video and notice the top arm pull (freestyle catch) and the turn of the head timing. 


The head should be turned just before the top arm pull is completed.  Think you have a string tied to your nose and the top arm. Then, the inhalation starts with the bottom arm pull.
Turn with the top arm - breathe with the bottom arm (TT / BB)
BREATHE during bottom arm pull - With the head turned from the top arm pull, now pull the bottom arm using more of a breaststroke pull (breaststroke scull - video). Some people like a bigger bottom arm pull to help lift them to the point they can inhale; that is fine, but do NOT breathe like you are doing the breaststroke (full head out of the water). This breath should look like a freestyle breath with half of your face still in the water and your head down.
Reason - When your head pops up, your feet drop, causing extra effort during the swim as you are angled diagonally and plowing the water more than swimming smoothly through it. 

Arm Recovery - Make sure your arms are tight to your body while moving your hands from your torso to the overhead glide position. This arm movement overhead occurs during the start of the KICK (See Fix My Kick). During the glide, your biceps should be squeezing your head, elbows straight, chin tucked down, with one hand on top of the other. You should look like a torpedo in this glide position. Also, you may need to work on your gliding position by doing shoulder mobility work. See CSS Help: Fix My Glide. 

More CSS HELP articles:

CSS Help: Fix Your Kick

CSS Help: Fix Your Glide

CSS Help: Fix Your CSS Sequence of the Stroke - Pull - Breathe - Kick - Glide

CSS Debate: To Pullout or Not Pullout (Breaststroke Pullout Issues)

Once you master the stroke, you have to get into swimming shape. This is THE workout to do that quickly, and it is FREE. Do this 4-5 times a week for a month and let me know how your swim time improves (but you have to have your technique down first)

Now - Get Into Swimming Shape with the 50-50

The 50-50 Workout (How It Works) - Here is a set of the 50-50 work out. Check it out see previous post for the actual warm-up 10 sets of 50-50s and cool down. 

Dude - You are not in Swimming Shape and practice with the 50-50 Swim workout below 4-6 times a week:

@stewsmith50 Here is a set of the 50-50 workout. Check it out. See the previous post for the actual warm-up, 10 sets of 50-50s, and cool down.

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