Dara Torres & the Value of Strength Training

Dara Torres, age 41, qualified for her fifth Olympics by winning the 100-meter freestyle Friday and by setting an American record in the 50-meter freestyle trials two days later. According to one of the experts cited in the CNN piece, Torres was able to beat our several much younger women through a combination of genetics, opportunity, motivation, and “incentive to train hard.” However, there is one very significant factor that warrants mentioning:

Torres’ regimen includes lots of resistance training — repetitive exercises using external force to push against muscles to make them stronger and increase their endurance.

This includes weight machines, free weights, and the type of simple floor exercises Torres does several times weekly: Lying on her back, she lifts and stretches each leg while also pushing against it with her arm.

I found it particularly interesting that Torres’ “sculpted arms and rock-hard abs” have prompted doping speculation among some groups in the sports and fitness communities. But Torres has never tested positive for performance enhancing substances of any kind, and she’s more than willing to prove her naysayers wrong by taking a lie detector test.

My guess is that her strength training regimen is what’s keeping her hGH levels high and enabling her to compete at such a peak athletic level for so many years. Also, swimming is a lower impact resistance training activity that tends to develop and preserve one’s body much better than running or most other endurance sports. In fact, the article cites a researcher who indicated that participants in Masters swimming programs “typically swim nearly every day of the week, and often look decades younger than their years.”

Something to think about…

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