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5 Essential Dryland Strength Training for Swimmers

dryland swim strength training

Swimming is one of those exercises where you use virtually every muscle. That’s why, without proper training, you’ll struggle to reach your potential as a swimmer.  

In addition to training in the pool or open water, dryland strength training can help you build up the necessary swimming strength and function. But some of you are still skeptical and ask, “Is dryland strength training for swimmers really necessary?”

The short answer is yes. Dryland strength training for swimmers can help you develop swim-specific motor patterns to improve your swim technique all while helping to strengthen your core. As a result, you cultivate greater efficiency, stamina, and encounter fewer injuries. In short, there are certain dryland exercises that swimming alone can’t accomplish. 

Let’s dive head-first into some great dryland strength training exercises.

5 Dryland Strength Training for Swimmers

Strengthening and stretching the muscles used in swimming is part of the best dryland training for swimmers. There are three main areas to focus on: the core, the arms, and the legs. Here are some dryland exercises for swimmers you can try next time you train.

1. Kneeling Superman

A kneeling superman is a great way to balance your strength if you are one of those swimmers who has a weaker side. 

It involves getting on all fours, lifting one arm and one leg, holding for a few seconds, lowering it, and repeating on the other side. You’ll build arm, leg, ab, and back strength with these repetitive movements. Weights or no weights—your choice.

2. Russian Twists

Similar to freestyle swimming, this move works your torso. This movement will improve your speed in the water and keep you from twisting your corkscrew.

Try this by sitting on the ground and lifting your feet a few inches. Lean back a little and bend your knees a little for balance. Touch the ground with one side of your upper body, then with the other. 

Using dumbbells, medicine balls, or other weights will make this even more effective. Maintain control throughout the movements and don’t allow your legs to turn, drop, or flap.

3. Plank Swimmers

Like regular planks, this plank variation also strengthens your core. It also includes a rotational challenge, which is beneficial for injury prevention as well as body positioning in the water.

Start in a high plank position with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Pull your right arm behind you and around back to the mat as if you’re swimming freestyle. Continue to move your left arm in a swim-like manner. Hold your form for 40 seconds, alternating arms.

4. Broad Jumps

One of the most important aspects of swimming is the start. Much of the speed in the pool comes from the amount of power and explosiveness of the push-off. To improve both the velocity and distance of the jump, try the broad jump. 

You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms behind your torso while bending at the knees. Sit back into a half squat by bringing your hips back and bending your knees. 

Then lift your heels off the ground by shifting your weight onto the balls of your feet.

Boost yourself into the air, push off your toes, and swing your arms forward and straight up. Try to jump as high and as far as you can. Reduce the impact by landing in a deep squat position with bent knees.

5. Squats

Believe it or not, squats are the king of all exercises. This exercise works all your big muscles, like your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core. By strengthening these muscles, you’ll be able to move more easily and prevent injuries.

These muscles are what swimmers use to get moving. Squats can improve your swimming technique in two ways: first, they give you more power and explosiveness when you come off the block. Secondly, it makes turns faster and more powerful.

Jump squats are great for strengthening your bottom half. If you’re looking to improve your core, you should try front squats.

Precautions and Tips

Any good swim or triathlon coach will agree that warming up is always recommended before training. Simple exercises, like stretching and jumping jacks, could get your muscles ready for the workout.

Jumping directly into training is not good for your muscles; without warmup, there is an increased chance of muscle injury. Also, if you have excess body weight, you might want to focus on shedding excess pounds to help maximize your training

I cannot emphasize how important it is to stay hydrated while training. Naturally, you will sweat a lot, so you’ll need to replenish the water you just lost. Also, make sure you take breaks when you need them and do not ever overtrain.


Is it better to do dryland strength training before or after swimming?

Dryland training is usually done after swimming, but it can be done before. It’s fun to do dryland training in a group, but you can do it alone too. Remember to stretch your shoulders, back, and legs.

How much dryland training should swimmers do?

It is recommended that swimmers keep their dryland sessions to an hour or less. The goal is to supplement swimming with resistance training. As a result, an hour of dryland training 2-3 times a week will suffice if you are exercising efficiently.

Does lifting weights help you swim faster?

Yes, it is true that lifting weights can increase the speed of a swimmer. It helps build the muscles in the arms, legs, shoulders, and back that propel you through the water.

So, the importance of dryland strength training for swimmers is undeniable. It builds up the portions of the body that you use in swimming. However, it’s crucial to warm up before training to avoid injury.

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Head of Content at Better Triathlete | Website

Endurance athlete, professional off-road cyclist, and avid blogger, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-course multisport and cycling events. Today, Tyler competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional level. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, he has been the head of content for the site's editorial team. Learn more about Tyler