3 Dryland Workouts for Swimmers of Every Level

Michael Butler
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Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Bodyweight)

This workout can be done both at home and at the local gym. I’m going to go ahead and assume you have access to a chin-up bar and a door.

Same old, same old: 3 sets of 15 pullups, 3 sets of 15 push-ups, 3 sets of 15 squats. No rest between sets.

If you’re a beginner, that’s 3 total each and if you’re an advanced level exerciser, that’s 45 reps in total. You can even add pullup negatives to this workout by holding the top position of a chin-up for 5 seconds (when appropriate).

If you don’t have access to a chin up bar, all is not lost because there’s nothing stopping you from sticking it to the wall with some painter’s tape and going to town.

Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Intermediate)

The following dryland workout is designed for an intermediate level swimmer. If you have never swam before or have not swim for years, you may want to start with the beginner or intermediate dryland routines.

The workout will focus on the flexors and extensors of the upper body and the extension and flexion of the lower body.

The upper body dryland workout is designed to strengthen muscles in the chest, shoulders, upper and lower back, and upper arms. This body portion of the workout will be done on a Swiss ball.

The lower body workout focus will be on the legs. You will perform the exercises on a bench or box on the following muscle groups:

  • The quadriceps
  • The hamstrings
  • The gastrocnemius

The upper and lower body workout should be done three times every week. You should rest at least a day between each session.

One of the most common areas of injury for swimmers is the upper body, especially the shoulders, neck, and upper back.

In fact, some of the most common strokes you may swim in the pool, such as breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke, can contribute to shoulder and back pain.

One of the best ways to prevent and relieve this pain is through dryland exercises—exercises you do away from the pool. Here are three dryland workouts that you can do at home or at the gym that target specific muscle groups and improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in your upper body.

These exercises are also easy to perform, so you can add them to your regiment regardless of your swimming level.

Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Advanced)

This workout is for the more advanced swimmer. Your goal is to build a lot of strength and stamina relatively quickly. It will be nearly impossible to do this workout every day. I recommend doing this workout for three consecutive days, followed by three days off, and then repeating this cycle. You can then taper off and triple the number of days off at the end of the cycle to make sure you’re totally recovered before diving back into another cycle.

I call this workout “Hell on a Bike” because it involves a lot of core work on a stationary bike. Working both the bike and the core develops the type of endurance you need both to become a better swimmer and to improve your overall fitness.

These exercises also target nearly every major muscle group in the body. You’re going to need a 20- or 30-pound ankle weight and an exercise bike if you plan on doing this workout.