Dry land & Exercise

8 Best Exercises for Swimmers at Home

swimmer doing best exercises at home

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Most swimmers usually neglect dry-land training. To be fair they don’t just neglect it, most of the time they don’t even do it at all.

This is a huge mistake on their side. Dry-land training can be hugely beneficial to all swimmers. There comes a point where just swimming alone isn’t enough anymore.

Even if you aren’t at that point yet and you can get away with just doing your swim training you still might to seriously consider adding dry-land to your training schedule.

Adding dry-land training to your schedule can have great benefits on your swimming times and help you to swim much faster.

Olympic and professional swimmers do a lot of dry-land and gym training to supplement their swimming. Some swimmers like Adam Peaty, for example, the greatest breaststroke swimmer of all time, does almost as much dry-land as he does swimming.

Adam Peaty spends 20 hours in the pool each week and 15 hours doing dry-land/ gym training. Adding up to a total training time of 35 hours each week.

let’s look at some of the benefits of dry-land training (or gym, depends what wording you like to use) on swimming performance-


5 Benefits of dry-land training for swimmers

  • Improved Power and Speed

There is only so much power that can be built in the pool. When you add dry-land to your training schedule it can seriously improve your swimming performance and speed inside of the water.

Exercises on land help a lot to develop explosive power in the water. This explosiveness can be applied to starts, turns, dives, and finishes.

The extra baseline of strength will also help you to pull and push water with more power and thus swim faster to beat your opponents and smash some PBs.


  • Increased Core Strength 

Core strength is one of the most important factors in swimming. a Strong core helps to connect other muscle groups efficiently, which in return will increase power output.

Not just that, this connection will assist in many aspects of a race- like a strong underwater dolphin kick for example.

The core also plays a huge role in maintaining a correct body position, allowing for minimized drag in the water. a Strong core will enable a swimmer to accelerate in speed faster after dives and turns.


  • Injury prevention

From personal experience, I have experienced some of the injuries caused by swimming myself. I know many of you have too because to be fair in a sport that is extremely physically demanding they aren’t quite all that uncommon.

The repetitive motions carried out over and over in the water can easily lead to chronic injuries.

Dry-land can assist in developing areas largely undeveloped by swimming. Like the lower back for example. Swimming tends to use most of the muscles in your body, but some much more than others.

This leads to those muscle groups easily getting overdeveloped compared to your other muscle groups. These imbalances can cause uncomfortable injuries. Not to worry, if you do your dry-land training correctly chances of this happening are very slim to none.

Although you can still probably get injured from other things, this is going to decrease your overall potential to get injured quite a bit.

Having stronger muscle groups will also prevent injury by distributing force correctly, allowing for less stress on joints and tendons.


  • Added Muscle for extra power

Swimming alone isn’t great at building muscle. Reason being for this is because the body adapts to stress very quickly. In swimming, it is very hard to increase stress, every training session.

Yes, as you progress and get stronger as a swimmer, more stress will be applied to your muscles, but the rate at which it increases is usually to slow to build significant muscle mass.

Not just that, but the resistance of the water alone isn’t enough to make large muscle gains. This is the reason, most swimmers tend to be more on the skinny side.

When you look at professional swimmers however, you will quickly notice that they are usually really big and carry a lot of muscle.

I can guarantee, most of this muscle is built outside of the water when doing dry-land training. The extra muscle mass allows for more surface area to pull and push water with and will make you faster.

Not just that it can greatly increase the amount of power you are able to exert in a short amount of time.


  • Improved Biomechanics 

Dry-land training can assist in better posture, muscle coordination, and recruitment. This can improve technique in the water. It will also assist in balance and stability in the water.

To improve biomechanics, you usually want to focus on exercises that strengthen large muscle groups. This leads us to our next point- The Best exercises for swimmers at home-


Now that we have talked about the benefits of dry-land training we can actually look at some of the best exercises for swimmers at home.

The 8 Best Exercises for swimmers at home

I won’t be providing instructions on how to perform these exercises since you can easily find thousands of tutorials on how to perform them all over the internet.

I will be providing the basic reasons why they are good exercises and why you should consider doing them, as well as some quick tips.


  • 1.) Pull-Ups

Pull-ups is a great exercise for all swimmers. They develop the trap muscles and lats extremely well. That’s also why they are so popular among body-builders.

They are actually probably one of the best exercises to develop your lats and traps out there. Thus it makes them one of the best exercises for swimmers out there.

Why? Because your traps and lats play a huge role in swimming. Most swimmers will already have decently good developed traps and lats because they are some of the most used muscles in the sport.

Now imagine strengthening those muscles even more. The pull-up isn’t specifically aimed at developing core strength, but if you perform strict pull-ups with your legs tilted slightly in-front of your body, they can actually be a good core exercise too!

That being said, for most beginners, who have never trained pull-ups, it’s probably going to be hard to even do 5. However, if you make sure to do them every day, you will quickly get stronger and better at them.

Overall a great exercise, probably one of the best for swimmers out there.

Some of you might not have a pull-up bar at home. I found a nice one that you can clip into the doorway of your room. Although not as nice as luxurious as an outdoor pull-up bar it gets the job done! You can check it out HERE


  • Try to avoid using momentum when performing the exercise.
  • If you aren’t able to do 1 or 2 good pull-ups consider doing Australian pull-ups until you are strong enough for real pull-ups.


  • 2.) Push-Ups

Push-ups are a great overall upper body strength exercise. They target the chest, triceps, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Try to do push-ups every day.

The muscles strengthened and worked by push-ups all play a critical role in swimming. Many swimmers lack good strength in their triceps and the push-up is a great way to build some strength in your triceps.

There are many different variations of push-ups. Start with a basic push-up and play around with some of the more advanced versions as you get stronger. Make sure to gradually increase the reps and sets as you get stronger.

Quick Tips

  • Make sure to keep your body in a straight line when performing push-ups.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Do not drop your hips.


  • 3.) Planking

As we discussed earlier core strength is very important in swimming. The plank is one of the best exercises to develop overall core strength.

It isn’t that hard to get the technique right and it can be performed virtually anywhere. Many swimmers lack good core strength and as a result, are putting themselves at a huge disadvantage.

There are many different variations of the plank so make sure to play around with them. Gradually increase the number of seconds you perform the plank over time in order to keep getting stronger.

Quick Tips

  • Make sure to keep your body in a straight line.
  • Keep a neutral neck and head position.
  • Don’t drop your hips
  • The technique is very similar to push-ups, you’re just on your elbows.


  • 4.) Sit-Ups

Sit-ups are probably the most basic and easiest core exercise out there. It is easily the most popular and for good reason too.

Sit-ups are a great way to build core strength. Although less superior to the plank, since it doesn’t work the entire core, it is still a good exercise.

They are easy to perform and can be performed almost anywhere. Many college swimming teams do 500 to a 1000 sit-ups before practice.

This just shows how important core strength is and that the sit-up is a great way to increase that.

Quick Tips

  • Make sure to keep your feet flat on the ground whilst performing. Try to get someone or something to hold your feet down.
  • Do not use momentum.


  • 5.) Russian Twist

The Russian twist is another great core exercise. Although more advanced and much harder than sit-ups. The Russian twist is a good exercise for freestylers especially.

The reason for this is because it simulates the rotating movement performed in freestyle swimming. However, all swimmers should consider doing this exercise since it is a great overall core exercise and it also targets the obliques.

Quick Tips

  • Try placing your feet on the ground to start with if you are not strong enough yet.


  • 6.) Squats

Squats are probably one of the best exercises for overall leg strength and quad development out there. They also target all the over major muscle groups in your legs, including the hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

Squats are relatively easy to perform and don’t require much technique. They can help you build explosive power in your legs, which you can use off the blocks on dives and on turns.

There are many different variations you can perform like jumping squats and box squats. If you are thinking about adding weights to your squats, you have to make sure your technique is perfect, otherwise, you can injure yourself.

Quick Tips

  • Point your feet out at an angle of 45°
  • When squatting point your knees out at the same angle as your feet, so that they align.
  • Look at a set point on the floor 5-6 feet ahead of you.


  • 7.) Lunges

Lunges are another great exercise to perform for leg strength and development. They can be performed anywhere and aren’t too hard to do. There are tons of different variations of lunges, similar to squats.

Lunges can also help develop that explosive power in your legs, which can really assist for explosive dives and turns.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t completely touch the ground with your knees, when performing. Just go down until you are just above the ground surface.
  • Try to keep your back at a straight neutral position.


  • 8.) Overhead Resistance Band Tricep Extensions

If you are a swimmer you should already have a set of resistance bands. For those of you who don’t you better quickly get yourself a pair. Since they are very useful and you can perform tons of exercises with them.

That’s why I included them in my swimming gear checklist. If you don’t have a set, I found a nice set relatively cheap on Amazon HERE.

Anyway, back to the exercise. Like I mentioned earlier, many swimmers lack good strength in their triceps.

Triceps are the biggest part of your arm, bigger than your bicep if you didn’t know, and they play an important role in the pulling movement in swimming.

Overhead Resistance Band Extensions are a great way to isolate your triceps and add some strength and muscle to them.

Quick Tips

  • Perform slow and controlled reps.
  • Squeeze your triceps for extra isolation.



Dry-land training is very important for swimmers. It will help you to get stronger outside of the water, which in return will make you stronger and faster inside of the water. ,

Now that you have a complete list of exercises you can perform at home, you don’t have an excuse to neglect your dry-land anymore! Consider checking out our blog for more articles on competitive swimming!


Photo credits- Alexander Redl on Unsplash

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About the author



I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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