Best Strength Training for Swimmers

strength training for swimmers

There’s a lot of misconceptions about swimmers doing strength training. Some may feel that it’s a risky exercise that will injure or stress muscles, or that it will make them too bulky to swim. Ultimately, if strength training is done correctly, it can help swimmers take their technique to the next level. Plus, it can help reduce the chance of injury, remedy muscle imbalances, and improve speed. Below, we’ll review a few of the top strength training for swimmers that improve strength both in and out of the water.

Bench Press

One of the best weight room workouts for swimmers is a dumbbell bench press. The exercise allows the shoulders to move in a more natural pattern and with a greater range of motion. By working each arm individually, you can remedy muscle imbalances and reduce muscle strain on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.


Swimmers rely heavily on their legs to keep them moving in the pool. Doing regular squats improves swimmers’ techniques in two ways: first, by giving them more power and explosiveness when coming off the block. And second, it increases the amount of power and speed in turns.

In terms of the best squats, jump squats are very effective and can be done either without equipment or with a pair of weights. Swimmers looking to improve their core should consider doing front squats over back squats.


This type of strength training effectively targets many of the same muscles that swimmers rely on to move their bodies through the water. It strengthens lats, forearms, arms, shoulders, and traps.

Glute Bridges

Much of the power used in swimming comes from the lower end of the body like the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower back. Doing a glute bridge helps to strengthen glute and core muscles and improves stability. 

Broad Jumps

One of the most important aspects of swimming is the start. Much of the speed in the pool comes from the amount of power and explosiveness of the push-off. To improve both the velocity and distance of the jump, try the broad jump. By standing with feet shoulder-distance apart and exploding forward off the ground, swimmers are slowly able to build up their velocity and have more powerful push-offs.


The position of a swimmer’s body is crucial while in the pool. It’s important to keep the back straight and maintain that posture, so a strong core and glutes are crucial. Plus, a solid plank reduces the chance of injury.

Reverse Fly

Working the upper back and shoulders, the reverse fly adds additional power to a swimmer’s strokes and helps to maintain good posture. This exercise can be done with either resistance bands or dumbbells. 

Chop Wood

A chop wood exercise is one of the best exercises to strengthen the core and the obliques. The twisting and rotation done during the exercise are also very similar to what’s done during swimming. 

Kneeling Superman

Swimmers who have noticed that one side of their body is weaker than another can strengthen it by performing a kneeling superman. This weight room workout for swimmers can be done with or without weights. It’s performed by getting on all fours, lifting the arm and opposite leg, holding for a few seconds, lowering it, and repeating on the opposite side. These repetitive movements help to strengthen the arms, legs, abs, and back.

Medicine Ball Lunge with Rotation

Flexible hips are essential for swimmers. This exercise works the quads, glutes, and core while simultaneously improving balance and spatial awareness. In addition to increasing hip flexibility, this strength training for swimmers improves lower body strength, allowing for better push-off from the block.

An equal balance between cardio and strength training helps swimmers take their skill and technique to the next level. At SwimJim, we’re happy to help both beginner and professional swimmers improve their skill. Contact us today to learn more.