Strength Training for Swimming

· 10th January 2019
Swimming is a very comprehensive sport, but if you really want to improve your performance and get better, you should do some strength training for swimming out of the pool. This will also improve your muscular development.

Swimmers spend many hours training in the pool. However, they also train on “dry land”. That is to say, they work out at the gym. In this article, we’ll tell you how to do strength training for swimming without having to get into the water.

Why should you do strength training for swimming?

Strength is essential to any athlete regardless of the discipline he or she is involved in. In the case of swimmers, it helps them increase their propulsive actions in the water. It can also improve their technique. Strength work in swimming also helps maintain endurance throughout the exercise session.

Because moving underwater requires more effort than moving out of the water, swimmers need to work on their strength. Aside from being more effective in the pool, it will reduce your risk of suffering from typical shoulder injuries. In swimmers, we’re talking about damage to the rotator cuff in particular.

A swimmer’s training routine has to have two stages: one within the pool and the other out of the pool and in the gym. The so-called “strength circuit” requires two or three sessions a week. This frequency depends on the level and the professionalism of the athlete.

Strength training for swimming can improve your technique.

Strength training exercises for swimming

You should group the exercise into circuits with very brief rest periods. The weight you end up working with should be comfortable for you to lift. That means it’s not necessary to lift large amounts, but rather to focus on your technique.

Here are some of the essential exercises for a swimmer’s strength training routine:

1- External rotation of the shoulders

You can use dumbbells or elastic bands for this exercise. Stand with your back straight and take the weight in one hand. Your arm, from your shoulder to your elbow, should stay very close to your torso. Open your hand and forearm outwards, rotating your shoulder gently.

2- Shoulder press

The shoulder press is a very popular exercise in the gym. You perform this exercise sitting down, with a plate or dumbbell on either side of you. Lift the arms to shoulder-level and bend your elbows in such a way that your hands point up to the ceiling.

Stretch your arms upward above your head. They should meet in the middle (they don’t necessarily have to meet, though). Keep this position for a few seconds and then bring your hands back to the original position. Do 30 repetitions.

3- Leg press

This exercise is good for increasing the strength in your legs. This is another one of the most important parts of the body for swimmers. You do this on a specific machine in the gym. As for the weight, you can increase it gradually as you have more practice. You can also do the same with the number of sets and repetitions.

A woman performing a leg press in the gym.

4- Superman

People also refer to this as the lumbar extension. It works the strength of the hip flexors and the abdominals. You can do this on the floor, on a mat, or on an exercise ball. In case you’re using the last option, you’ll be adding the extra element of instability, which is similar to the environment you encounter underwater.

To do the superman exercise, you have to lie face down with your legs outstretched. Raise your arms out in front of your head and also raise your legs. It should appear as if you’re flying through the air, which is where it gets its heroic name from. Your head should be in a downward position. Keep this position for 20 minutes and rest. Repeat 10 times.

5- Lateral bridge

This is a strength training for swimming exercise that also works endurance, so it’s great for people who practice swimming. It works the abdominal obliques and the transverse abdominal muscles in the midsection. It also strengthens the back and the shoulders.

A woman doing the bridge.
This is an example of a lateral abdominal bridge.

Lay on your side, on the mat, with your legs stretched out. Lift your body and support it on your elbow and forearm. Along with the foot you’re using for support, these are the only points where your body should touch the floor. Try to hold this pose for one minute and then switch to the other side. Repeat this 5 times.

6. Horizontal row

This is another strength training for swimming exercise that works your shoulders. This one uses a bar. Stand on your feet, bend your knees lightly, and bring the torso slightly forward. The arms should be very close to your body throughout the movement. Bring your elbows toward the back slowly and return to the initial position. Do 20 repetitions.

Consult with your coach or trainer to learn which strength exercises are best for swimmers.