5 Best Dryland Workouts for Breaststroke Swimmers

What if I told you that you could become a FASTER breaststroke swimmer, not by spending more time in the pool, but by spending more time outside of it – in the gym, on the “dryland” as swimmers like to call it!

As we all know, breaststroke is one of the most power-intensive strokes in swimming. That’s also why breaststroke swimmers are some of the biggest and strongest in the pool—just take a look at Adam Peaty, for example. Thus, it is important for breaststroke swimmers to develop the right muscles and do the right breaststroke exercises to swim with as much power and speed as possible.

Breaststroke engages almost all of your body’s muscles, but there are a few more important muscle groups: your chest, lats, traps, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and abdominals. We’ll emphasize these muscles in the following 5 workouts for breaststroke swimmers. Most of these exercises are also completed in Coach Abbie’s FREE dryland classes, which can be found here!

Let’s dive into it!

Workout #1: Bodyweight

The first breaststroke exercise on our list will be a classic, old bodyweight workout. This is a great workout if you are just starting and new to dryland training and/or have limited equipment available. We’ll use bodyweight exercises to target important muscle groups and develop power while swimming breaststroke.

Wide Grip Pull-Ups: 3 sets of 6-12 reps.

Push-Ups: 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.

Jump Squats: 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.

Elevated Glute Bridge: 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

Plank: 3 sets, 1-2 minute holds (can increase or decrease depending on your strength level).

Tricep pushdowns with a resistance band: 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

If you need a good resistance band, click here.

Rest: 2-3 minutes between exercises/sets.

Workout #2: In the Weight Room

Those who are a bit more experienced with dryland training and have access to the weight room might want to try this workout.

P.S. The current 50m and 100m breaststroke world record holder, Adam Peaty, spends a lot of time in the weight room!

Barbell back squat: 3 sets, 6 reps.

Bench press/ dumbbell press: 3 sets 6-8 reps.

Deadlift: 3 sets 5 reps.

Pull-ups: 3 sets 6-10 reps. (can do weighted or bodyweight)

Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets 8-12 reps.

Rest: 3-5 minutes between exercises/sets.

Virtual Dryland Training & Programming for Swimmers


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Workout #3: Exercises to Develop a Stronger Breaststroke Pull

Both breaststroke exercises we’ve discussed have been geared towards training your entire body simultaneously. For the next few workouts, we’ll be zoning in on specific parts of your breaststroke and the muscles required to execute those parts successfully. We’ll kick things off with workouts to improve your breaststroke pull. We’ll have 2 workouts, a bodyweight workout and a weight lifting one.

Workout 3.1: Bodyweight

Chin-ups: 3 sets 8-12 reps.

Dips: 3 sets 6-10 reps.

Clap Push-Ups: 3 sets 6-8 reps.

Resistance Band Tricep Pushdown: 3 sets 8-12 reps.

Resistance Band Bicep Curls: 3 sets 8-12 reps.

Rest: 2-3 minutes between exercises/sets.

Workout 3.2: In the Weight Room

Weighted Chin-Ups: 3 sets 5 reps.

Bench Press/Dumbbell Press: 3 sets 6-8 reps.

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press: 3 sets, 6-10 reps.

Chest Supported Barbell Row: 3 sets, 6-8 reps.

Rest: 3-5 minutes between exercises/sets.

Workout #4: Exercises to Develop a Stronger Breaststroke Kick!


Now that we’ve covered the pull, we’ll concentrate on the lower body, which involves a powerful kick. You need strong legs to execute a powerful kick, which can generate up to 80% of your overall breaststroke stroke speed, so it’s really important to train it well.

Once again, we’ll have 2 workouts to follow — a bodyweight and a weight lifting one:

Workout 4.1: Bodyweight

Bodyweight Jump Squats: 4 sets 15-20 reps.

Walking Lunges: 4 sets 12-15 reps per leg.

Elevated Glute Bridge: 4 sets, 8-12 reps.

Split squats: 4 sets, 10-12 reps per leg.

Russian Twists: 3 sets, 12-15 reps.

Rest: 2-3 minutes between exercises/sets.

Workout 4.2: In the Weight Room

Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets 6 reps.

Deadlifts: 3 sets 6 reps.

Walking Dumbbell Lunges: 3 sets 8-10 reps per leg.

Barbell Calve Raises: 3 sets 12 reps.

Rest: 3-5 minutes between exercises/sets.

Workout #5: Exercises for Speed and Power Development for Breaststroke Swimming

The last breaststroke workout we’ll cover is geared solely toward developing speed and power. All the exercises above are geared toward developing strength in specific muscle groups without a high heart rate, whereas this one will keep your heart rate pumping the entire time.

This is circuit-style, so complete straight through with 3-5 rounds total and rest 3-4 minutes between each set.

Skipping: 1 min.

Clap/Jump Push-Ups: 8-10 reps.

Box Jumps: 10 reps.

MedBall Slams: 8-10 reps.

Squat Jumps: 10 reps.

Push-up Burpees: 10 reps.

Complete 3-5 rounds, then Rest: 3-4 minutes

Experimentation: Play, Learn, Have Fun, and Always Stay Safe.

Now that we’ve gone over some good exercises for breaststroke swimming, which you can feel free to try, I want to talk more about what you can do for your dryland training going forward. Sticking to these 5 workouts alone will get quite dull after a while, and your body will most likely also adapt to the stress and resistance they place on your muscles, which means you won’t progress.

To avoid this, I encourage you to play around and create your own workouts as you become more comfortable and experienced with dryland training. In doing so, you’ll be able to learn what works for you and what doesn’t, and you’ll become a better swimmer in the process. With that said, here are a few tips:

Warming Up Before Dryland Training:

It’s very important not to put yourself at risk while dryland training, and one of the best ways to ensure that is always warming up!

A proper warm-up routine will ensure that your muscles are ready to train and that no injuries occur. I like to start with foam rolling, where I roll out all the different muscle groups for 5-10 minutes. After that, I’ll do resistance band warm-up exercises like flaps, shoulder retractions, and external rotations. This is followed by a quick 2 minutes of cardio (whether running, biking, or skipping) to raise the heart rate and body temperature.

Progressive Overloading at the Gym:

If you create your own breaststroke dryland workouts, you want to incorporate progressive overloading as you become stronger.

This term essentially just refers to increasing your training load a bit now and then to ensure progress. It could mean adding more reps, an extra set, or some extra weight to the bar if you are in the gym.


Ensuring proper nutrition is one of the most important parts when adding dryland to your training routine. The added training requires extra fuel (aka calories) and your muscles might require more protein to recover properly.

Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet, and to consume enough protein. In some cases supplements may come in useful for keeping you on top of your nutrition game. Make sure you double check all labels of supplements before taking anything and consult your doctor to make sure they are legal for FINA competitions and good for your body.

Nutrition While Dryland Training:

Ensuring proper nutrition is one of the most important aspects of adding dryland to your training routine. The added training requires extra fuel (aka calories), and your muscles might require more protein to recover properly.

Eat a well-balanced diet and consume enough protein. In some cases, supplements may be useful for keeping you on top of your nutrition game. Double-check all supplements’ labels before taking anything, and consult your doctor to ensure they are legal for FINA competitions and good for your body.


Dryland training exercises, combined with good swimming technique and hard work in the pool, are important for becoming your best swimmer. By adding some extra dryland workouts outside of the pool, you will develop strength and power that will allow you to swim faster and even lower your risk of injury by strengthening weaker muscles.

I hope this article gave you some good ideas for your dryland training routine and that you are now ready to try it yourself!

Read Part II of our dryland mini-series for workouts for Butterfliers here!

About the Author:

A swimmer in a swimming pool.

Hey, I’m Benjamin. I’m a competitive swimmer with many years of experience. I am passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing my knowledge of the sport. I also run my swimming website, SwimCompetitive.Com, and love writing articles covering various swimming-related topics, including dryland!

5 Responses

  1. Hi.
    At what age would you advise starting the dry land training advised above?
    I live in the Cayman Islands and the coaches here advise different things.

    1. Younger kids can start body weight training between the ages of 8-12. This would be no different than doing another sport outside the water!

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