15 dryland strength exercises for swimmers

Become a better swimmer by increasing your strength, flexibility and overall physical mobility with our 15 dryland strength exercises.


It is hard to build muscle through swimming alone. Despite the repetitive movements and whole-body integration while swimming, muscle groups are not triggered enough to develop.

So, to help you as a swimmer to increase your strength, flexibility, and overall physical mobility, we have put together 15 dryland strength exercises.

4-week training program

To prepare you for longer swim sessions and open water swimming, we have put together a 4-week training program. By combining 3 step-by-step dryland workouts per week, you work all the upper-, and lower body muscles involved in swimming.

A dryland combo

In this video, we show you an example of how you can combine several of the dryland strength and core exercises.

Try this dryland combo next time you train.

8 upper body dryland strength exercises

The ability to pull and push your body through water is a huge part of successful swimming.

  • The pull begins when the hand enters the water and you “pull” it toward your chest.
  • The push occurs at the point where your hand passes your shoulder and starts moving toward your hip.

By combining below dryland strength exercises, you can work all the upper-body muscles involved in swimming.

One-arm throw

The one-arm throw concentrates on the front portion of your deltoid muscles and on your lats and simulates how your upper arm pulls you through the water.

One-arm throw

Bridging pullover

The bridging pullover focuses on a powerful pull. This exercise will help learn to pull stronger while keeping your body from moving around too much. For the added effect, use a stability ball instead of a bench.

Bridging pullover

Tubing stroke

The tubing stroke is a perfect pull-and-push drill that simulates what you do while swimming—no matter stroke style.

Tubing stroke

Shoulder press

The shoulder press is designed to help you straighten out your arm entirely before beginning a stroke.

Shoulder press

Triceps push-down

The triceps push-down concentrates on the last half of your stroke, the push. The relatively small triceps muscles have to provide the last push to propel you through the water, so training them is essential.

Triceps push-down

Tubing kickback

Like the triceps push-down, the tubing kickback mimics the final push of your stroke.

Tubing kickback

Seated dips

The seated dip combines the triceps, the shoulder, and the deltoid to double the force of your push.

Seated dips

Tubing biceps curl

If you watch how your arm moves during the initial pull of your stroke, you will notice that the elbow has to bend to maintain a good stroke. And the biceps make this possible.

Tubing biceps curl

7 dryland strength exercises for your lower body

Although the upper body may do the main portion of the work during swimming, the lower body provides a good deal of propulsion and stability in the water. 

And, your hips, thighs, and calves, do not provide a lot of buoyancy. Sounds familiar?

So you have to keep them moving during the swim to prevent dragging your legs along at the expense of your arms.

Tubing lateral lift

The lateral lift focuses on the often-ignored smaller glute muscle. This muscle is responsible for lifting your legs out to your sides and for stabilizing part of the gluteus during hip extension. Training this muscle will help keep your legs from flailing out to the sides and allow you to concentrate on extending your hips with each kick.

Tubing lateral lift

Reversed superman

The exercise locks your knees straight while you use your glutes and hamstrings to extend your hips. By keeping your knees locked, you can make the hamstrings work at the hips, effectively increasing the force in your kick.

Reversed superman

Leg extension

The leg extension exercise concentrates on the force that you produce while extending your knees, which is critical for a solid kick.

Leg extension

Tubing hip extension

The hip extension exercise allows you to work one leg at a time through the same range of motion that the hips move during swimming. 

Tubing hip extension

Tubing lateral cross

The muscles used during the exercise are responsible for helping the gluteus medius stabilize the hips and the gluteus maximus. Performing this exercise will also help with your hip extension force by keeping the leg moving in the correct direction.

Tubing lateral cross

Bridging

Bridging

Standing calf raise

In the standing calf raise, you will work both muscles of the calf. And it provides more power to your kick.

Standing calf raise

Structure and purpose

Strength and endurance training is all about doing the right things, the right way…consistently.

And it’s impossible to do that without a plan. Luckily, our digital service will allow you to structure your season better. 

So, don’t delay, sign up to a monthly training program or register for a free seasonal plan (below) today.

Welcome to TOT,
Joachim

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