Resistance Exercises to Improve Your Swimming

Any competitive swimmer can tell you how demanding the sport can be. It works every single part of your body from head to toe, and especially your core muscles.

Not only does swimming stimulate muscle growth in your entire body, but it also works your heart (and burns as many calories) as running. Swimming is low-impact, meaning it won’t pound your joints and has a much lower chance of injury than high-impact sports like running and football. 

To improve your lap times, it’s about more than swimming endless laps of the pool. You should include a regular strength training routine to build muscle and strength, which will make you stronger and faster.

Whether you’re participating competitively in the sport or just want to include swimming in your workout repertoire, we’re here with a resistance band routine to help improve your strength and overall performance.

Full-Body Resistance Workout

When you’re cross-training for swimming, you’ll want to train your whole body, focusing on the upper body and core. 

Perform this routine 2-3 x per week with at least 48 hours of rest between for muscle recovery.

We’ve designed the workout using resistance bands (like the ones here: for a few reasons. They’re inexpensive, easy to carry anywhere, and are low-impact. They also strengthen your core muscles during every move, as the constant tension from the band requires the core to work to keep your body stable.

Now, we’ll jump into the exercises.

1.) Reverse Fly with Band


Sets: 3

Reps: 20

  1. Grab one end of your resistance band in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. With palms facing toward each other, lift your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
  3. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, activate your upper back and move your arms away from each other, following the shoulder line. Stop when they are directly at your sides.
  4. Return to starting position and repeat. 

2.) Assisted Pull-ups

Sets: 3

Reps: 20

  1. Wrap a long, looped resistance band around a pull-up bar. You can wrap both ends if you’d like it shorter to put your knees through, like above. Or, you can wrap once and put one or both feet through the other end of the loop.
  2. Step up on a bench under the bar if needed, and grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than your shoulders.
  3. Step off the bench, and slowly lift yourself with your arms until your chin is above the bar. Pause at the top of the movement. Return to the starting position again.
  4. Repeat.

4-Month Weight Training Program for Swimmers!

3.) Clamshells with Band

Sets: 3

Reps: 15 on each leg

  1. Lie on your right side-body on a workout mat. Place a booty band around both of your thighs. 
  2. Bend your knees to 90° from your body and stack your hips on top of each other. For support, place your left hand directly on the mat in front of you, and your right hand under your head for support.
  3. Keeping your leg in a parallel position with the floor, lift your right leg upward. Keep your hips stacked and avoid tilting your body backward during the movement.
  4. Return to starting position, and repeat. Switch to the left side when completed.

4.) Banded Single Arm Row


Sets: 3

Reps: 15 on each side

  1. Step your right foot forward. Get into a lunge position, with the booty band under your right foot’s arch.
  2. Grab the end of the band loop with your left hand. Place right hand on your right thigh and hinge forward at the waist.
  3. Using your left hand, row your arm back, keep your elbow close to your side. Stop when your left hand has reached your left hip. 
  4. Return to starting position and repeat. Switch to the right side when the left is complete.


5.) Banded Plank and Tapouts

Sets: 3

Reps: 20

  1. Get into a plank position. Place your hands directly under shoulders on a workout mat, with your booty band wrapped around both forearms. 
  2. Keeping your core tight for support, step your right hand out a few inches to your side. Return to plank, then step out with left hand a few inches, and return to starting position.
  3. Repeat.


Repeat these moves 2-3x per week to become a faster, stronger swimmer and start cutting your lap times. 

As you improve at the exercises, move up to the next strongest resistance band to challenge your muscles, and stimulate more growth.

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