Incorporating lifting and other various forms of resistance training with weights is becoming increasingly popular among competitive swimmers from many different levels. The reason is simple- these workouts help swimmers to develop strength, muscle, and power, which in return allows them to swim faster. Today, however, we will be taking a look at some dryland workouts for swimmers without weights.
Not all swimmers have access to the weight room, or maybe you just don’t have time to drive to the gym every day. Luckily for you, it is still possible to build some good strength, muscle, and power by doing dryland workouts without weights or in other words ‘bodyweight workouts’.
Dryland workouts without weights can benefit swimmers from all ages and levels. These workouts can build good strength, muscle, and power, ultimately, helping swimmers to swim faster and better times. This training style may be inferior to lifting weights in some aspects, but it also has many advantages of its own.
There are many different types of dryland workouts for swimmers without weights. Some of these workouts focus on improving aerobic fitness, while others emphasize building muscle and strength, and other workouts may even focus on explosive and plyometric abilities.
It is important for you to recognize your weak points since you will then be able to make a more accurate decision on which type of dryland training style you should include in your daily workout schedule.
For example, you may have a bad start. This probably means you lack explosive power and it could be a sensible option for you to incorporate plyometric workouts into your dryland schedule since they don’t require weights or much equipment and they can significantly improve your jumping abilities. Ultimately, helping you to have a better start in your races.
Choosing your dryland workout style
Before you can start including dryland workouts without weights into your training schedule, you need to first decide on what your focus points are going to be. Usually, this is going to fall into one of the three categories I have listed below-
- Strength, muscle, and power.
- Explosive power and plyometric (jumping) power.
- Cardiovascular fitness
If you aren’t completely sure about which training style you should go with then I’d probably recommend you focus on developing strength, muscle, and power. This is one of the more challenging training styles, but also one of the most rewarding.
Almost all swimmers can benefit from being stronger and having more muscle tone since you will essentially be able to exert more force in the water while swimming. You will also probably be able to kick and pull harder, faster and more efficiently as you progress with your dryland training.
Now that we have covered the basics of dryland workouts for swimmers without weights, let’s have a more in-depth look at each of the 3 main training styles listed above.
Dryland workouts to develop strength, muscle, and power for swimmers.
This training style combines more traditional bodyweight exercises, as well as some more advanced and harder bodyweight exercises, to build a solid base of strength and muscle tone for the swimmer involved.
This workout style has many great benefits for swimmers. One of the biggest benefits of this training style is its ability to develop a strong core. Many of the bodyweight exercises involved require you to activate the abdominal muscles, thus developing a strong core, which is highly important for competitive swimmers.
There are many different names for this training style. The most common one is simply ‘bodyweight training’, but you have probably also heard the term ‘calisthenics’ being thrown around.
How to start
Starting with this training style is simple, it doesn’t require much equipment, nor a fancy gym space. You can essentially do it almost anywhere. One of the most important factors to think about when first starting is your current strength level. You do not want to be attempting exercises or volumes that are too much for your body to handle since you will have a higher likelihood of getting injured.
I recommend that you start light and keep it simple. Below I will give you a few workouts that you can start with, but ultimately you are going to develop your own routine as you progress. Choose 5 or 6 main exercises and slowly progress in each, by adding more reps, sets and trying harder variations of those exercises or even adding completely new and harder exercises.
Some good and simple bodyweight exercises that swimmers can start with include-
- Australian pull-ups
- Pull-Ups (check out my article- “why all swimmers should do pull-ups“)
- Pike Push-Ups
- Bodyweight Squats
- Bodyweight Lunges
- Knee Raises
- Leg Raises
- Russian Twists
- 10 minutes warmup (break a light sweat)
- Pull-Ups- 4 sets of 8 reps
- Dips- 3 sets of 10 reps
- Knee raises- 3 sets of 20 reps
- Bodyweight Squats- 3 sets of 15 reps
- Plank- 2 sets of 1-2 minutes.
- 10 minutes warmup (break a light sweat)
- Push-Ups- 4 sets of 12 reps
- Pull-Ups- 4 sets of 8 reps
- Russian Twists- 3 sets of 20 reps
- Bodyweight Lunges- 4 sets of 15 reps per leg
- Diamond push-ups- 3 sets of 6 reps
Workout 3 (circuit workout, do 4-8 round with 3-5 minutes rest between each round)
- 10 Burpees
- 6 Pull-Ups
- 8 Push-Ups
- 20 Sit-Ups
- 6 Dips
- 15 Squat jumps
Here are some other related articles that you might want to check out-
- 10 Best core exercises for swimmers at home.
- Swimming and weight training- your complete guide.
- 10 Best dryland exercises for butterfly swimmers.
- 15 Best dryland exercises for breaststroke swimmers.
Dryland workouts to develop plyometric and explosive power for swimmers
This training style aims to force the swimmer’s muscles to exert maximum force within short intervals of time, with the end goal of increasing power and explosiveness. This can be great for improving your starts, as well as your turns and underwater dolphin kicks. By improving just those 3 factors you are going to see some significant improvements in your swimming times.
Plyometric training consists of many different types of jumping exercises. Thus the legs will be involved quite a lot, ultimately developing some serious lower body strength for the swimmer. That being said, there are also quite a few plyometric exercises that will develop some good upper body strength
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How to start
Like the classic bodyweight strength training I mentioned above, plyometrics also doesn’t require much equipment or a gym. You are, however, going to need a bit more space to perform some of the exercises since there will be a lot of jumping involved.
Once again it is important to assess your current strength and fitness level before attempting anything too crazy. Start by doing a few basic plyometric exercises every day and work your way up from there. It is also important to remember to warm up properly before starting your workout to avoid injury.
If you would like to, you can even combine the bodyweight strength training with some plyometric training to give yourself a tough workout. For instance, you can start your workout with an explosive plyometric movement and then go into your strength exercises, once you are finished with your strength movements, you can finish the workout off with a plyometric exercise.
Some good plyometric exercises swimmers can start with include-
- Box Jumps
- Plyo push-ups (clapping push-ups)
- Reverse lunge with knee up
- Squat Jumps
- Kneeling Jump Squat
- Jumping Rope
- Medicine Ball Slams
Workout 1 (do 4-6 rounds with 3-5 minutes rest in between each round)
- Jumping Rope for 60 seconds
- 10 Squat Jumps (aim to get as much height as possible)
- 10 Horizontal Jumps (as fast as possible, as far as possible)
- 8 Plyo push-ups
- 8 Medicine ball slams
Workout 2 (do 4-6 rounds with 3-5 minutes rest in between each round)
- 10 Box Jumps
- 10 Kneeling Jump Squat
- 10 Burpees
- 10 Reverse lunge with knee up
- 30 seconds jump rope
Dryland workouts for swimmers to develop cardiovascular fitness
This training style aims to improve the swimmer’s cardiovascular fitness levels. Higher cardiovascular fitness levels will increase the heart and lungs’ ability to supply oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissues during exercise. It will also improve the muscles’ ability to use oxygen to produce energy for movement in the water and on land.
Many swimmers avoid cardiovascular workouts since they believe that their cardiovascular fitness levels are already high enough simply from swimming. In some cases, this may be true, but a lot of the time swimmers can still significantly benefit from incorporating other forms of cardiovascular exercise into their training schedules.
How to start
Generally, cardiovascular workouts can be kept simple and basic, but they can also become complex and may require certain equipment in some cases. For example, jumping rope or running are simple and excellent ways to build up some extra cardiovascular fitness, but some swimmers might want to try something different and more complex like rowing for example. This, however, is going to require a rowing machine. (check out this rowing machine on Amazon, click HERE)
Cardiovascular workouts are also going to require a bit more space than the typical bodyweight strength workout. Luckily, these workouts are much easier to program and to incorporate into your training schedule since they usually only consist of one activity like running.
Whichever cardiovascular workout you decide to go with, whether it be running or rowing, start slowly, say 15-20 minutes a day or maybe a mile in distance. Then work your way up from there until you reach the maximum time you can train extra in a day, whereafter you will start to increase the intensity to keep progressing.
As you can see from everything I have discussed in this article- you don’t need weights or a fancy gym to still get in a good and solid workout. Ultimately, the strength and power built from these workouts will be more than enough for age-group and non-professional swimmers. Swimming is much more about perfecting your technique and minimizing resistance in the water than anything else.
Yes, having good strength and power on land is still important and very beneficial, but you don’t need weights to develop that. If you really want to, then there is nothing wrong with lifting, just make sure to learn proper technique and form for each lift and warm up properly.
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