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15 Best Dryland Exercises for Breaststroke Swimmers

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Do you want to become a better and faster breaststroke swimmer? Well, in that case, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s article, we will be taking a look at the 15 best dry-land exercises for breaststroke swimmers.

Dryland training can be very beneficial for competitive swimmers since it will assist swimmers in developing extra strength and power that can translate into faster sprinting speeds and enhanced endurance in the pool.

A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine examined the effects of combined dry-land strength and aerobic training in youth competitive swimmers. 24 Swimmers participated in the study and were divided into 2 groups.

muscles used in breaststroke swimming

One group did 8 weeks of dry-land strength and power training while the other group simply continued with their normal swim training. The study concluded that combined dry-land and aerobic swim training sowed tendencies to improve swimming sprint performance due to enhanced strength capabilities.

When setting up a dry-land exercise routine it is important to take into account the primary muscle groups involved in the stroke you are trying to improve most. In many cases, the muscle groups involved in the different strokes will overlap, but there are in fact differences in which groups are more important for specific swimming strokes.

In breaststroke swimming, the main muscle groups involved are going to be the chest, biceps, triceps, abdominals, hip muscles, quadriceps, lats, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It is thus important to choose dryland exercises that will place an emphasis on strengthening these muscles.

15 Best Dryland Exercises for Breaststroke Swimmers

Here is a quick list of the best exercises for breaststroke swimmers-

  • Dips 
  • Push-Ups 
  • Pulls Ups 
  • Bicep Curl
  • Tricep pushdowns 
  • External Rotation with resistance band or tubing
  • Medicine ball slams 
  • Plank
  • Russian twist 
  • Squats 
  • Lunges 
  • Hip abductions with resistance band 
  • Hip Thrusts 
  • Single leg Romain Deadlifts
  • Calve Raises 

1. Dips 

Breaststroke swimming heavily involves the frontal muscles of the upper body. This includes the chest, biceps, and triceps. The dip is one of the best dry-land exercises to strengthen these 3 muscle groups and it’s also great for developing strong shoulders.

There are 3 main variations of the dip. The first and most effective being dips on parallel dip bars. Unfortunately, a lot of swimmers don’t have access to this training equipment. If you do, however, have access to dip bars or a dip station, I highly recommend this variation.

The second variation is straight bar dips, which you can perform on a single pull up bar and the final variation is bench dips which can be performed almost anywhere as long as you have an elevated surface, such as a bench or a step.

How to perform dips for faster breaststroke swimming-

  • Grab onto the parallel dip bars and jump up as you straighten your arms.
  • Lower your body by bending your arms backward and leaning slightly forward.
  • Dip down until your shoulders are just below your elbows.
  • Then push up by straightening your arms and going back into the starting position.
  • Make sure to straighten your arms.

2. Push-Ups

Push-ups are another awesome dry-land exercise for breaststroke swimmers since it is also great at developing the chest, triceps, and bicep muscles. There are a ton of different variations that you can try to see which you like and find the most beneficial.

Personally, I like elevated push-ups since it places more emphasis on the chest and triceps. Additionally, you can try doing elevated push-ups with your feet placed on an exercise ball to develop smaller, yet critical stabilizing muscles.

How to perform push-ups with correct technique-

  • Start by going into the standard push up position with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your body in a rigid line.
  • Brace your core and lower yourself by bending the elbows backward until your chest touches the floor.
  • Explode up and back into the starting position.

3. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are always an excellent dry-land exercise for any swimmer, no matter what stroke you specialize in. The pull-up is one of the best exercises for developing a strong back and lats. It is also good for strengthening the biceps.

The back and lats play a critical role in all of the swimming strokes since they are large muscle groups used in the pulling motion. Thus having a strong back and lats will result in being able to exert a lot of power during your pull.

How to perform the pull-up to become a better breaststroke swimmer-

  • Grab onto the pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width or just outside shoulder-width apart.
  • Retract your scapula into a stable position and brace your core.
  • Pull yourself up until your head passes the bar.
  • Make sure to use your back and not to use any momentum as you pull yourself up.
  • Then lower yourself back down in a controlled manner.

4. Bicep Curl

The bicep curl is without a doubt the best dry-land exercise for developing strong biceps since it is an isolation exercise. Breaststroke swimmers require strong biceps for the pulling motion of their stroke.

However, it isn’t always quite necessary to do isolation exercises for bicep development since they are also involved in a lot of other exercises. I only recommend doing bicep curls if you lack bicep strength.

How to perform the barbell bicep curl for a stronger breaststroke pull-

  • Stand with good posture and a braced core.
  • Hold the barbell with your hands just outside of your hips.
  • Slowly raise the barbell, allowing the bicep to contract.
  • Stay rigid and do not use momentum.
  • Then lower the barbell back down in a controlled manner allowing the bicep to relax. 

5. Tricep Pushdowns

The tricep pushdown in another great isolation exercise that breaststroke swimmers can use to develop stronger and more powerful tricep muscles. You can do tricep push-downs using a resistance band or if you have access to a gym, you can use the tricep pushdown machine.

How to perform tricep pushdowns with a resistance band-

  • Tie your resistance band on an overhead pole or structure.
  • Stand just behind it with your back slightly bent forward.
  • Pull the resistance band backward allowing your arms to straighten and your triceps to flex.
  • Then slowly allow your arms to return to the starting position by relaxing the triceps.

6. External Rotation with Resistance Band or Tubing

The External rotation is a very beneficial dry-land exercise for any swimmer. It is good at strengthening the external deltoids which are very involved in breaststroke swimming. It is also great for preventing shoulder injuries since it allows swimmers to develop strong rotator cuff muscles.

It is common and convenient to perform this exercise with a resistance band or tubing, but you can also do it with light to moderate weighing dumbells or you can use certain cable machines if you have access to a gym.

How to perform external rotations with a resistance band-

  • Start by attaching your resistance band to a fixed object.
  • Stand next to your resistance band and grab it with your hand farthest away.
  • Keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees as you pull the band across your body.
  • Then slowly return to the starting position while maintaining good posture.

7. Medicine Ball Slams

Medicine ball slams are one of the best dry-land exercises for developing explosive power. Breaststroke is a very explosive and powerful stroke, thus making the medicine ball slam a good exercise to incorporate. 

The medicine ball slam will also strengthen the chest, arms, and back but as I said the main focus is power and explosiveness.

How to perform medicine ball slams to develop explosive breaststroke mechanics-

  • Hold the medicine ball in a comfortable position in front of you.
  • Then lift it overhead as you create a triple extension with the legs.
  • Feel your abdominal muscles stretch and then slam the ball as hard as you can into the floor before catching it and repeating.

8. Plank 

Most swimmers are familiar with the plank since it is such a great dry-land exercise for developing overall core strength. Core strength is an important aspect to develop for any swimmer since it is used in all of the strokes, including breaststroke.

The plank will primarily strengthen the rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus, but it will also involve the shoulders and lower back.

Once you get good at holding the plank for extended periods of time you can try harder variations such as doing it on a medicine ball or doing ab rollouts, which are very challenging for most athletes.

How to perform the plank for a stronger core-

  • Start in the standard plank position by keeping your elbows flat and apart and your body in a rigid and straight line.
  • Hold this position for as long as possible.
  • Avoid dropping the hips or lifting your butt.

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9. Russian Twist

Russian twists are one of the best dry-land exercises for developing strong obliques. The oblique muscles are important for developing a powerful forward lunge with the arms during breaststroke swimming. They are also quite good at building up general core strength. 

You can do them weighted or only use bodyweight. Personally, I think the weighted variation is better since it will help you to be more stable and it will also develop more core strength.

How to perform the Russian twist-

  • Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Slightly lean backward with your back and lift your feet an inch or two of the ground.
  • Then twist your torso to one side while staying rigid, and then twist to the opposite side.
  • Avoiding swaying the feet or using momentum, keep it controlled.

10. Squats

The squat is one of the best dry-land exercises for developing strong legs. They primarily target the quadriceps and glutes but are also great for stronger hamstrings and calves. Squats will help you to develop a powerful and explosive breaststroke kick resulting in faster swimming performances.

How to perform bodyweight squats for a better breaststroke kick-

  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and point the toes slightly out.
  • Lower yourself as you bend your knees.
  • Keep lowering your body in a controlled manner until your hips are just below knee height.
  • Then explode back up into the starting position and repeat.

11. Lunges

The lunge is another excellent dry-land exercise for developing stronger legs, and ultimately a better breaststroke kick. Lunges are a good single-leg exercise for strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. 

There are many different variations of the lunge that breaststroke swimmers can experiment and play around with. You can do simply bodyweight lunges, jumping lunges, weighted lunges, and reverse lunges, just to name a few.

How to perform bodyweight lunges-

  • Stand with good posture and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Then take a step forward and descend until your opposite knee is just above the floor.
  • Avoid bringing your knee over the forward foot since this could cause knee problems.
  • Then push back up from your forward foot and you go back into the starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite leg.

12. Hip Abductions with Resistance Band

The abductor muscles are really important for developing a strong breaststroke kick. They will assist swimmers in creating a powerful snapback effect resulting in more power during the kick. Hip abductions with a resistance band is a simple way to develop stronger abductor and hip flexor muscles. You can also use an abductor or cable machine if you would prefer that.

How to perform hip abductions with a resistance band-

  • Tie your resistance band onto a pole and then onto your foot.
  • Hold onto the pole for added stability.
  • Then pull the resistance band by extending your leg sideways away from the opposite foot.
  • Keep your leg straight and slowly return to the starting position as you prepare to do another rep.

13. Hip Thrusts 

Hip thrusts are a simple, yet practical dry-land exercise for breaststroke swimmers. The hip thrust will help to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, which are primarily involved in the breaststroke kick.

There are many different variations of the hip thrust. You can start by doing simple bodyweight hip-thrusts and then progress to doing them on an exercise ball. Once you are good at that you can even consider doing weighted hip thrusts.

How to perform bodyweight hip-thrusts for an explosive breaststroke kick-

  • Lay down in a comfortable position with your feet flat and your knees bent.
  • Push your hips up into the air as far as possible allowing the hamstrings to extend.
  • Then lower yourself back in a controlled manner and repeat.

14. Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts 

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is another great dry-land exercise primarily focused on developing the hamstrings and glute muscles. I recommend switching things up between the single-leg Romanian deadlift and the hip thrust in order to get a bit of variety in your dry-land training program.

How to perform single-leg Romanian deadlifts-

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Lift one foot off the floor.
  • Then slowly lower your upper body forward as your leg extends backward.
  • Feel the stretch in your hamstring and return to the starting position by bringing your upper body back up and lowering your raised leg.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

15. Calve Raises 

The calve raise is one of the best exercises for building strong calves. It will also strengthen the achilles tendon which is involved in the snapping motion of the breaststroke kick. I only recommend doing calve raises if you lack strength in this area since the calves will be used in a lot of the other leg exercises.

How to perform calve raises-

  • Stand in a comfortable position with good posture and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Press yourself up onto your toes and feel your calves contracting.
  • Then slowly lower yourself back into the starting position and repeat.

Looking for a new breaststroke tech suit? Check out my article on the best tech suits for breaststroke swimmers. These suits can further enhance your performance in the pool and make you a faster breaststroke swimmer.

Improve Your Performance with These Dryland Exercises for Breaststroke Swimmers

Dry-land training has come to play an important part in developing into the best breaststroke swimmer that you can be. It allows you to strengthen important muscle groups, ultimately making you a faster and better swimmer.

As a bonus, dry-land training also gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors who aren’t doing it.

I recommend choosing a few of the exercises and combining them to form different dry-land workouts. Do 3 or 4 sets of about 8 to 15 repetitions for each exercise and take enough rest in between sets. Make sure not to overdo things and to keep an eye on your recovery and performance in the pool.

Photo of author
I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with over a decande of experience in the sport of swimming. I also hold certifications in Exercise Science and Nutrition. 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.

A Cheat Sheet for Creating the Perfect Swimming Workout and Routine

Download this FREE cheat sheet to create the perfect swimming workout and routine. Learn how to structure your swim workout and enjoy 9 example workouts, ranging from beginner to advanced.

Swim Workout Cheat Sheet
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