Swimming is a great full body workout, and of course our personal favourite! It’s kind to your heart and a great form of cardiovascular exercise.

For instance, did you know that after just 30 minutes of breaststroke in the pool, you can expect to burn around 367 calories? (that’s the equivalent of 1 and ½ bars of Dairy Milk chocolate!)

You may think that doing more swimming is the best way to improve, but there are a lot of exercises that you can do outside of the pool to enhance your body strength. It may feel counter-intuitive, but these kinds of exercises will build on the muscles that pull your body through the water and will ultimately help you perfect your technique.

We’ve compiled one yoga position and one circuit exercise to target three key areas of the body. You don’t need to make it to the gym or a yoga class to complete these dryland swimming workouts, all you need is some space at home and a gym mat. Whether you’re completely new or a moderate to advanced swimmer, we’ll have you building your strength in no time.


Strength Land Training for Swimmers – Abs


Even if you’re just going for a casual swim, all of your power in the water comes from core strength. This is why it’s important to exercise your abdominal and oblique muscles as a part of your land exercises.


Yoga – The Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

This is a great beginner yoga pose as it allows you to learn the basic alignment to build the foundations towards more advanced poses. Your abdominal and back muscles will be working quite hard throughout to keep you balanced and strengthen your core muscles.

  1. Extend your arms out to the sides and then bend over your right leg.
  2. Stand with your legs about 3 feet apart, with the toes on your right foot turned out 90 degrees and your other toes turned to 45.
  3. Try to touch the floor with your right hand. If you’re a beginner, just rest it on your right leg. Extend the fingertips of your left hand towards the ceiling.
  4. Turn to gaze towards the ceiling and hold for 5 breaths.
  5. Stand and repeat on the opposite side.


Circuit – The Plank

The plank always looks easy, but once you’re properly in the position, boy does it work! This is considered the best exercise for all-round strength and has the benefits of supporting posture and improving balance.

  1. Support your weight on the forearms and toes, whilst keeping the elbows directly above your shoulders.
  2. Keep those glutes squeezed! This will ensure that your spine is held in a straight line.
  3. If you’re a beginner, aim for a 30-second hold. Inhale and exhale slowly, concentrating on the tightening of your abdominals.
  4. Don’t let that mid-section drop to the floor! The idea of this exercise is to keep your body in a straight line. Think of a table – no one wants a wonky table!  


Strength Land Training for Swimmers – Arms


If you are incorporating swimming into your exercise regime, then it’s important not to overlook your arms and shoulders when training on land. This is a key area of the body that can be damaged, sitting under an umbrella term of ‘Swimmers Shoulder’.


Yoga –  Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

There are many benefits to this snake-like pose. It strengthens your arms and shoulders, stretches your chest and invigorates the heart. Learn this yoga pose to keep that pesky swimmer’s shoulder at bay.

  1. Lie flat on your yoga mat. Keep the tops of your feet on the floor and ensure your hands are on the floor sitting underneath your shoulders. Keep your elbows tucked back into your body.
  2. Whilst breathing in, begin to lift your chest off the floor by straightening your arms. Pull your tailbone in towards your pelvis and lift your pelvis toward the navel. Keep everything firm, but don’t harden your buttocks.
  3. Keep your shoulder blades firm against your back and lift through the top of your sternum. Distribute this backbend evenly throughout the entire length of your spine. Hold this pose anywhere between 15-30 seconds and don’t forget to focus on your breathing!

Circuit – Plank Ups

The weight of your body is equipment in its own right, and so the use of dumbbells aren’t always necessary. The bonus of many arm exercises is that they also require you to engage with your core, so you can keep working on strengthening those abs.

  1. Start in a high plank position. This is the same position we spoke about previously but with straight arms.
  2. Bring your elbow and forearm to the mat by bending one forearm, followed by the other. This will bring you into the plank position.
  3. Push back up to the starting position, placing your hands where your elbows were.
  4. Repeat this movement, alternating which side you lower first with each rep. Do this 10-12 times.


Strength Land Training for Swimmers – Legs

The goal when land training for swimmers is to get stronger without bulking up. This is because the more bulk you have, the more resistance you’re creating when in the water. These two exercises work on holding and lifting your own body weight, as opposed to physical weights.

Yoga Pose – Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

The Chair Pose in yoga is a great position to strengthen your hips, calves and back. It also works your chest and shoulders which are all vital areas that are worked whilst swimming.

  1. Stand in the starting position of Tadasana. Whilst inhaling, raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Here you can either join the palms or keep the arms parallel.
  2. Whilst exhaling, bend your knees and try to bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as you can, similar to a squat position. Push your torso slightly forward so it sits over the thighs.
  3. Keep your shoulder blades firm against the back. Remain here for 30 seconds to a minute, if you can. To come out of the position, straighten your knees whilst inhaling, lifting up through your arms.

Circuit – Jump Squats

Jump Squats are great for working your glutes, hamstrings and quads, which is perfect to help keep your legs strong and powerful as you glide through the water. If performed correctly, the flexing of your knees, ankles and hips will also lengthen and strengthen your spine. 

  1. Begin in a lowered squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart.  If you’re a beginner, start gently, lowering your body closer to the ground when you can feel yourself getting stronger.
  2. Jump up and land back in the squat position. Ensure you keep your toes soft every time you land and don’t lock your knees! It is important to maintain good form. Perform 10-12 reps of these 3 times.


So now you have the basis for exercises to perform on land that will help work those vital areas you use when you’re in the pool. Grab your Swimfreak goggles and carry that exercise on in the water, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more swimming tips!