5 Dryland Exercises for Swimmers!

Quarantine? Yeah, we get it. It’s getting pretty rough. The exciting news is (some) states are starting to look like they are going to open up soon. The bad news is other states aren’t! No matter where you are in the USA or world, I figured I’d go ahead and write up a short blog on exercises you can be doing during quarantine that’ll directly relate to your swimming races. After all the more Dryland exercises for swimmers you have, the more enjoyable your quarantine workouts will be!

Let’s get started!

1.) The Pull-Up

Probably one of the best dryland exercises for swimmers, hands down, for swimmers as it is a direct correlation to the pulling motion seen in both the Freestyle and Backstroke strokes. Unlike other exercises, the Pull-Up doesn’t require additional weight to perform, but you can put on a weight here like Adam Peaty in this photo.

Being able to move your body weight outside the water is a GREAT indicator on whether you’ll be effect at moving your body inside the water medium. I’d recommend you start with small sets of strict Pull-Ups (i.e. 3 sets of 4-6 and see how you feel/progress from there)!

2.) The Deadlift

If you’ve ever studied or read much on Strength and Conditioning, you’ll have heard of the buzz word: Posterior Chain. This buzz word is talking about all the muscles running down the backside of your body and how keeping that line of muscles, strong, will really benefit for you not only in swimming– but in life.

The Deadlift is back and lower body driven. I love this movement, because it doesn’t require a swimmer to lift a heavy load over the head, unlike other Olympic lifting movements (like the Snatch) which can add extra stress to the shoulder joints that are already stressed enough. And, you can really crank up the weight.

The Deadlift itself isn’t a complicated movement to perform, but you still want to make sure you have proper form (especially if you’re lifting heavy). The biggest key in your Deadlift technique is to make sure your knees are below shoulders to start and you are looking forward at the beginning of this movement. You never, ever, want to round your back while pulling the weight up — if you catch yourself doing this, the weight is too heavy and you should take some off.

If you don’t have a barbell, that is no problem. You can do kettlebell deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts, hex bar deadlift, and single leg variations too. Get creative. This movement is a life movement, so have fun with it! Every single one of your kicks (i.e. dolphin, flutter, and backstroke) will improve if you’re doing a Deadlift regularly.

3.) Squat/Leg Press

If you don’t have access to a Leg Press machine, you can still work the same muscles that that machine does with a Squat. Just like the Deadlift, a Squat can be preformed using a variety of equipment (i.e. dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, etc.). You can also change this movement into more of an explosive power movement (as opposed to purely strength) by adding in different variations of jump squats to the fun!

The squat is another life movement. Right now, the chair you’re sitting in — you’re going to have to get out of. The movement you will perform is a squat. That’s the same movement we have to get out of — on our walls too. The more power you can produce (the heavier the weight and the faster you can move it), the better your turns, starts, and kicks will be.

4.) Push-Up/Bench Press

Depending on what equipment you may have, you can most likely perform both of these exercises. They work some of the same primary muscle groups, which is why they are grouped together.

Just as we talked about with the Pull-Up, if you’re struggling to move your own bodyweight start with a regular Push-Up and progress up to a heavy Bench Press from there.

A Bench Press can be performed with a barbell or a set of dumbbells. You can add in variations to the Bench Press by changing the angle of the Bench the swimmer is laying on and/or taking the bench away and putting a swimmer laying on the ground performing a Floor Press instead.

All of these upper body movements are great for swimmers are they help strengthen your chest muscles — which are the muscles that help you propel yourself forward down the pool. The better conditioned these muscles are, the faster swimmer (and more efficient) puller you’ll be.

5.) Dumbbell/Barbell Row

Remember that Back Fascial Line? Yeah, it’s back again. This time, we are primarily focusing on the opposing muscle groups of the Bench Press and working on those muscles in your upper back that help keep your shoulder in place and your posture straight!

With this movement, there really isn’t too much of it you can do. Obviously, don’t go and do 100 reps tomorrow of the Dumbbell Row if you’ve never done them before — but if you think about ALL the revolutions a swimmer’s shoulder goes through during practices, it is thousands! During every single one of those revolutions, these muscles must be activated to help keep the shoulder safe. If you want a long and fruitful swimming career, definitely incorporate a variation of this movement in your Dryland workout today!

If you don’t already have a solid routine for your Dryland workouts, you should join mine. Every Monday-Friday, I’m running FREE Dryland workouts for swimmers. If you’d like to be held accountable and have a free coaching session with Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach, register here.

Looking for MORE Dryland Exercises?

Also, here’s a few more stroke specific dryland exercises for swimmers I recommended while being interviewed on the IronWomen podcast!

Lacking Equipment?

If you’re lacking equipment, you can always look into some different resistance band exercises as well to help keep your Dryland routine fresh. My absolute favorite Dryland training tool can be found here.

Best of Luck, and Stay Safe/Healthy!


Abbie Fish

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