Swimming is a lot of fun and is an excellent full-body workout with low resistance and high rewards. However, if you want to take your swimming up a notch, strength training for swimmers is crucial. If you feel you’ve hit a plateau or you want to improve your overall speed and power in the water, I encourage you to try these strength training exercises for swimmers.
1. Squat Jumps
Squat jumps will strengthen your calves, glutes, and quads, which will help you push off with more power when finishing a flip turn or the starting block.
You can do squat jumps using just your body weight, while holding dumbbells or other weight, or – my favorite – while using resistance bands. A hip circle band around your thighs will give you quite the workout while you jump!
- Put the hip circle band a few inches above your knees, and squat with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Jump up, and then go back into a squat again. That’s one rep.
Make sure your knees stay in line with your toes as you squat and jump. It looks like this:
Pull-ups are one of the essential exercises for strength training for butterfly swimmers. Butterfly stroke demands a lot of strength and power from your deltoids (the muscles in front of and behind your shoulders). The butterfly also uses your trapezius muscles on the side and behind your neck.
If you are just starting out with pull-ups, you may want to use a resistance band to help you, like this:
However, you can also use weights or just your bodyweight if you can already do pull-ups.
In terms of strength training for swimmers, planks are one of my top picks because they are simple to do, there are many variations, and they strengthen your core.
The other important thing to know about the plank position is that you are reproducing excellent form when your body is in the water. You need to focus on keeping your back straight as if there were a straight line from your ankles to your head. To keep this straight posture, you’ll have to tighten your abs and glutes and make sure your neck stays straight and that you are looking out ahead of you rather than down.
A strong plank can also help prevent injury and improve your position while rotating as you swim and improve your speed when doing freestyle.
If you are just starting with planks, begin by holding a good plank position for 30 to 60 seconds. You can slowly work up to as long as 5 minutes, or even add weight to make it more challenging.
4. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are excellent strength training for swimmers because they work your whole body. Your shoulders, glutes, triceps, legs, and your core all get a workout. Mountain climbers also improve your cardio endurance, since when doing these exercises, you are always moving as you would if you were swimming.
Mountain climbers can improve your strength and endurance and your overall position while you swim. You’ll develop a more powerful kick for strokes such as freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke.
As with other full-body exercises, do mountain climbers around 2-3 times per week for best results.
To be sure you are doing mountain climbers correctly and are avoiding some common mistakes people make, watch this demonstration:
Pushups are excellent strength training for swimmers as they work your pectorals and your latissimus dorsi muscles, which allow you to move forward with power when you swim.
Do your pushups slowly to make them challenging. You want to make sure you are building strength in your arms and chest, rather than just cardio endurance.
You can do elevated pushups (with your feet elevated on a stool or bench behind you) to work in more of a challenge.
There are many variations of pushups. Watch this video to choose from 30 different options:
6. Medicine Ball Lunge with Rotation
Medicine ball lunges with rotation will improve your lower body strength and keep your hips flexible, essential for swimmers. You’ll be working your glutes, quads, and core while improving your balance and awareness of where your body is in space (proprioception).
The better your lower body strength, the faster you can push off from the wall or the starting block.
Here’s what these lunges look like in action:
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7. Reverse Fly
This exercise works your upper back and shoulder muscles, which can help protect your shoulder from injury. You can do a reverse fly with dumbbells or a resistance band.
Strengthening your upper back and shoulders will not only give more power to your strokes but will improve your posture.
Here’s what it looks like using dumbbells:
Here’s what it looks like with a resistance band:
8. Kneeling Superman
Any strength training for swimmers needs to include kneeling supermans. You may have noticed that one side of your body is weaker than the other when doing backstroke or front crawl. This exercise can help address that by working your core while working opposite sides of your body at the same time. You’ll be strengthening your abs, glutes, and your back.
Kneeling on all fours, stretch your right arm forward while your left leg goes out straight behind you. Hold here for a few seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
You can see how to do this exercise here:
9. Russian Twists with Medicine Ball
Russian twists work your obliques, shoulders, and hips, helping you develop a more efficient stroke. They also allow you to glide better in the water and change direction quickly. Holding a medicine ball or other weight while you do these will work your muscles even harder.
Make sure you extend your legs as much as you can during this exercise to get maximum benefits.
Here’s what Russian twists look like in practice:
10. Chop Wood
The chop wood exercise is brilliant for your core, as it works your abs and your obliques together. The twisting and lifting movement replicates some of the moves you do in the water already.
You can do this exercise using either a dumbbell or a resistance band.
Here’s what it looks like using a dumbbell:
Here’s what it looks like with a resistance band:
You can see there are lots of strength training exercises for swimmers here. The choice is yours!
Enjoy your training!
*This blog is a guest post from Victorem Gear.