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Dryland Swimming Exercises

Looking for some effective dryland swimming exercises to do at home?   Finding getting to the swimming pool tricky sometimes?  Maybe you simply want to strengthen those swimming muscles to help give your overall technique a much needed boost. 

Well you have found just the right page.  Scroll down to find some easy-to-perform dryland swimming exercises that hit all the major swimming muscles  - and they can all be done in the comfort of your own home.

Dryland swimming exercises that really make a difference

If you are unable to get to your swimming pool for some time and you do not want to lose all that progress you have made, then working out at home is essential. 

Below are some simple dry land swim exercises that will help to maintain and enhance muscle memory, strength and tone. 

Although these kinds of dryland exercises for swimmers won't maintain your swimming stamina, they will most definitely maintain your strength if you can't get to the pool and improve your swimming strength if you are swimming regularly too. 

Many of these dryland swimming exercises are taken from Swimming Anatomy by Ian McLeod.  

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Exercise 1: Burpees

Burpees are a great way to work the leg and back muscles so this exercise will benefit all swimming strokes.  The action of pushing the legs backwards partly simulates the power phase of breaststroke legs, making this one for better dry land swim exercises for this stroke.  

burpees to strengthen breaststroke leg kickImage courtesy of Swimming Anatomy by Ian Mcleod.

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How To Perform a Burpee

  1. from a standing position, drop down onto your hands and kick your feet straight back
  2. lower into a push-up and push back up.  As you complete the push-up, draw your feet forward so that they are under your hips.
  3. jump upward, lifting your arms overhead into a streamline shape.
  4. absorb the landing by dropping straight down into another repetition.

Perform 3 sets of 15 burpees.

Exercise 2: Close-grip Push ups

A great dry land swim exercise for strengthening the upper body, in particular the chest and backs of the arms.  These muscles are vital for the recover phase of the arm action in all swimming strokes. 

push ups to help strengthen upper body in swimmingImage courtesy of Swimming Anatomy by Ian Mcleod.

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How To Perform a Close-Grip Push up

  1. facedown, position both hands under your chest so that your thumbs touch along the midline of your body at nipple level.  Your toes support your lower body.
  2. holding your body in a straight line from your ankles to the top of your head, push your upper body upward until the elbows are almost locked.
  3. lower your body until your chest is 1 inch (2.5 cm) off the ground.

Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 3: Tricep Dips

An exercise that can easily be performed at home using a step or chair, tricep dips are a great way to strengthen the backs of the arms and front of the shoulders - essential for front crawl, breaststroke and butterfly stroke. 

dryland swimming exercises to strengthen armsImage courtesy of The Student's Anatomy of Exercise Manual by K. Ashwell

How To Perform a Tricep Dip

  1. position yourself on the edge of a bench or chair, supported by your arms with your hands over the edge, fingers facing forwards.
  2. keeping your body upright, bend your elbows and lower yourself downwards.
  3. push yourself back up to the starting position by extending your arms until your elbows are almost locked. 

Perform 3 sets are 15 repetitions.

Exercise 4: Wrist Curls

Wrist and forearm strength are essential when performing all four basic swimming strokes and wrist curls are the perfect exercise for strengthening your wrist and forearm muscles. 

The diagram below shows the exercise being performed using a barbell, but it can easily be done using a weight in each hand such as a couple of tins of food or water bottles.  Click here to buy hand weights

dryland swimming exercises to increase wrist and forearm strength when pullingImage courtesy of The Student's Anatomy of Exercise Manual by K. Ashwell

How To Perform Wrist Curls

  1. sit down and rest your forearms along your thighs with wrists fully extend and palms facing away from you.
  2. grip your weights and curl your wrists upwards towards your forearms. 
  3. fully extend your wrists back downwards and repeat.
  4. Once you have completed a full set of repetitions, complete a set of the same but with the wrists inverted, beginning with palms facing downwards. This ensures that all muscles in the forearms are being worked. 

Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions of both wrist positions.

Exercise 5: Plank

One of the best exercises for strengthening the core muscles is the plank and as far as dryland swimming exercises go, this one is not to be left out.  Core muscles are crucial to all swimming stokes, especially butterfly stroke, where these muscles form a central part of the undulating body movement. 

dryland exercises for swimmers to increase core muscle strengthImage courtesy of Swimming Anatomy by Ian Mcleod.

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How To Perform a Plank

  1. Position yourself face down, with your weight supported on your elbows and toes. 
  2. Forearms should be facing forwards and inline with your shoulders.
  3. Pull your belly-button upwards towards your spine and hold it there for the duration of the exercise
  4. Maintain steady breathing, and DO NOT hold your breath, especially when you begin to fatigue. 
  5. A more difficult version of this exercise is performed sideways, with your weight resting you one elbow placed directly below your shoulder and one one foot with the other placed on top. 

Perform this exercise up to 3 times for a duration of 60 seconds each. 

Exercise 6: Roll Outs

One of the great dryland swimming exercises that strengthens the core muscles and the muscles essential for pulling from a stretched out position.  This is most beneficial for helping to strengthen front crawl arm pull. 

The diagrams below show using both an Ab Roller and a Swiss ball

dryland exercises for swimmers to increase core and pulling strengthImage courtesy of The Student's Anatomy of Exercise Manual by K. Ashwell

How to Perform a Roll Out

  1. Begin on your knees with your choice of roller placed in front of you.  
  2. Allow the roller to roll forwards and extend your arms as fully as you can.
  3. Allow your lower body to extend forwards keeping your knees on the floor.
  4. Keeping your back straight and hips up, exhale as you use your core muscles to support you pulling the roller back to the start position.

Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

Exercise 7: Oblique Curls

The oblique muscles are the ones responsible for rotation of the torso - particularly needed when breathing during front crawl.  When they are not rotating the body, they are working hard to help support the deep core muscles. 

This exercise can be performed on a mat or on a Swiss Ball.  

dryland swimming exercises to help support core strength in swimmersImage courtesy of The Student's Anatomy of Exercise Manual by K. Ashwell

How to Perform an Oblique Curl

  1. Begin in a laying back position, face upwards, with your hands placed either side of the head.
  2. Curl upwards and across, in a twisting motion, bringing one elbow towards the opposite knee. 
  3. Be sure not to pull on your head or strain the back of your neck in any way. 
  4. Return slowly to the start position to begin again. 

Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.

Exercise 8: Supermans

Due to its swimming like positioning, Supermans are one of the best dryland swimming exercises to strengthen all of the muscles in the back and spine, as well as the muscles in the backs of the legs and up through the shoulders.  

This is particularly effective for enhancing front crawl stroke, but applies very well to backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly stroke. 

dryland workouts for swimmers to increase strength and techniqueImage courtesy of The Student's Anatomy of Exercise Manual by K. Ashwell

How to Perform Supermans

  1. Lay in a prone position (face down) with your arms extended fully in front. 
  2. Keeping your arm straight, gently raise it up and at the same time raise the opposite leg, also keeping it straight. 
  3. Be sure to raise your arm and leg as far as your own range of movement will allow, and not force it beyond (there's nothing to gain from it)
  4. Lower your arm and leg slowly back down and then raise the opposite arm and leg. 

Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions on both sides.

Need some more Dryland Swimming Exercises?

Swimming Anatomy by Ian McLeod is the only book you will need to help keep you strong and toned when exercising out of the pool on dryland.  Add to your repertoire of dryland swimming exercises today.

Take your dryland swim training to the next level, click here