Dry land & Exercise

5 Out Of Water Exercises to Improve Your Swimming

swimmer preforming out of water exercises to improve swimming

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So you want to improve your swimming? Last season you spent hours and hours in the pool training. You didn’t skip a single practice, you were at the pool 5 am every morning.

All for what? This season was a tough one… You worked hard, but it didn’t pay off as you wanted it to. You qualified nationals, swum some PBs, but you were nowhere near the podium.

All of this has caused a fire to start burning up inside of you. You have a desire to work harder and win gold next season. But you have realized that you are going to need something extra this season.

Clearly, all of your effort to show up to swim practice last season wasn’t enough. You need dry-land. You decided, this season is the season you are going to start incorporating dry-land training into your training schedule.

Well, let me start by complimenting you on your decision. Doing dry-land is by far one of the best things you can do to help improve your swimming and make sure that you are much faster next season.

Dry-land helps strengthen major muscle groups like the core, legs, back, and chest, which are all majorly involved in the sport of competitive swimming. It can assist with injury prevention and improve biomechanics.


3 Benefits from out of water exercises

  • Improved Speed and Power

There is only so much power that can be gained in the pool. When you add dry-land to your training it can have a large impact on your swimming and improve your swimming performance and speed in the water.

Dry-land exercises help a lot to build explosive power in the water. This explosive power can be applied to starts, turns, dives, and finishes.

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


  • Injury Prevention

From personal experience, I have experienced some injuries from swimming myself. I know many of you probably have too. To be fair in a sport that is extremely physically demanding they aren’t all that uncommon.

The repetitive motions that we carry out over and over in the water can easily lead to injuries.

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

This leads to muscle groups easily getting overdeveloped compared to some other muscle groups. These muscle imbalances can cause injuries in some cases.

Not to worry, if you do your dry-land training, chances of this happening are very low. Although you can still get injured from other things, this is going to decrease your overall potential for injury quite a lot.

Having stronger muscles will also prevent injury by distributing force correctly throughout the body, allowing for less stress on joints and tendons.


  • Added Core Strength 

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

Not just that, this connection will help in many aspects of a race- as a strong underwater dolphin kick for example. The core also plays a huge role in maintaining a correct body position, allowing for reduced drag in the water.

a Strong core will enable a swimmer to accelerate in speed faster after dives and turns.


5 out of water exercises to improve your swimming

  • Pull-Ups

Pull-ups work the lats and trap muscles extremely well. In swimming the lats and trap muscles are frequently used and strengthening them will for sure improve your stroke, power and speed.

Pull-ups are actually one of the best exercises out there for lat and trap development, that’s why they are a popular back exercise among body-builders.

If you don’t have a pull-up bar, I recommend you get one, it doesn’t have to be a fancy outdoor pull-up bar, I found a nice doorway pull-up bar on Amazon, you can check it out HERE


How to perform

  • Grab onto your pull up bar and hang, make sure to retract your scapula.
  • You can grab on to the bar shoulder width apart or more than shoulder width apart for more lat activation.
  • Now pull yourself up and lower yourself again, whilst keeping a controlled movement. Try to avoid momentum.
  • Make sure to lower yourself completely before doing the next rep.


  • Planking

The plank is one of the best exercises to build overall core strength. It isn’t that complicated to get the technique right and it can be performed almost anywhere.

Many swimmers lack sufficient core strength and as a result, are putting themselves at a big disadvantage. There are many different variations the plank can be performed, so make sure to play around with them.

Gradually increase the number of seconds you perform the plank in order to keep getting stronger.


How to perform

  • Place yourself in a push-up position, but instead of standing on your hands and feet, use your elbows and feet.
  • Try to hold a straight line, throughout your entire body. Do not lower your hips.
  • Hold it for as long as you can.


  • Sit-Ups

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

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

They are pretty easy to perform and can be performed almost anywhere. Many college swimming teams perform 500 to a 1000 sit-ups before practice. This just shows how important core strength is and that the sit-up is an awesome way to increase that.


How to perform

  • Lay down on your back, with your knees bent.
  • Try to get something or someone to hold down your feet.
  • Place your hands behind your head and lift your upper body until you touch your knees.
  • Then lower it again at a controlled speed.


  • Jumping Squats

Jumping squats are a great way to build explosive leg power. They are an awesome exercise and they target all the major muscle groups in the legs. Having strong legs are very important in swimming since the legs drive a lot of speed and power, they are used to kick off the walls and are necessary for a good dive. Having strong legs with explosive power is going to be very beneficial to your swimming and jumping squats is a great exercise for just that!


How to perform

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Point your feet out at roughly 30-45°.
  • Squat down and point your knees out at the same angle.
  • When squatting down, try to lower your hips just below your knees.
  • When you are at the bottom of the motion, explode up and jump.
  • Then repeat the movement until you complete a set.


  • Skipping Rope

Skipping is also a good exercise to build leg endurance, agility, cardiovascular endurance and it can help with breathing efficiency.

Clearly, there are many benefits to skipping. It will build leg endurance to help your legs last longer over a long race, increase cardiovascular endurance even more than it is already and it can develop agility and quickness, possibly helping with reaction times of the blocks and walls. as

Don’t have a skipping rope? Check out this nice one from Amazon HERE.


How to perform

  • Not much I can do for you here, this is a movement that requires a lot of practice!


Make sure to check out our blog for more articles on competitive swimming!


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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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