Dryland Training for Swimmers

An important part of an athlete’s training regimen is finding workouts that will benefit them during a competition by complementing the training that is part of the sport itself. In other words, cross-training activities that will build and develop key muscle groups, with exercises different from those that are dominant in their sport. This is why many athletes participate in multiple sports, take dance classes, engage in yoga, and so on. Creating a workout plan for swimmers is no different, except that their sport takes place in the water, while their cross-training tends to fall under the category of “dryland training.”

What Is Dryland Training?

Dryland training takes place, you guessed it, on dry land. The goal is to use strength and conditioning exercises to increase power, mobility, and flexibility. For swimmers, this means the ultimate goal is to become more explosive in the water, increase speed and stroke rate, and improve distance per stroke. This type of training is also designed to reduce the risk of injury.

What Are the Best Dryland Exercises for Swimmers?

The best dryland training for swimmers includes exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles used in swimming, particularly the core, arms, and legs. Remember to always warm up your muscles before beginning a workout and stretch thoroughly to prevent injury. Try some of the following dryland exercises for swimmers in your next workout.

  • Burpees
  • Jump Lunges
  • Planks
  • Donkey Kicks
  • Leg Lifts
  • Pushups
  • Pullups
  • Squats
  • Jump Rope
  • Medicine Ball
  • Flutter Kicks

Are Deadlifts Good for Swimmers?

Deadlift exercises are designed to work large muscle groups like the quadriceps and back and to increase power. So yes, deadlifts can be a good workout for swimmers. However, the most important thing to remember with any weight training workout is that form and technique are significantly more important than lifting heavy. If you are new to this type of exercise, have someone show you how to properly execute this lift to ensure safety and best results. A workout plan for swimmers, and any athlete, should include a well-rounded weight lifting routine.

How Do You Strengthen Your Core for Swimming?

A strong core is another vital element for athletes, as it is literally at the core of everything your body is able to do. A strong core can help with balance, power, and stability in a variety of exercises, including exercises for swimmers. Improving core strength can help swimmers improve their flip turn, their underwater dolphin kicks, and even help them get started with more power. Unfortunately, crunches can only do so much. Try these core exercises to enhance your workout plan for swimmers on your team, or use them yourself.


The superman move is great for working on both your abs and your back; specifically, it helps with the muscles around your shoulders. This promotes better posture and helps prevent swimmer’s shoulder. 

To do the superman, lay on your stomach on the floor. Extend both arms in front of you and raise one arm above the ground while lifting the opposite leg; for example, raise your right arm while lifting your left leg. Hold for a few seconds, then switch. Don’t be tempted to rush or let your limbs just fall back to the ground. Aim for fluid and controlled movements.

Russian Twists

This move helps work your torso with rotating movements, similar to freestyle swimming. Building control and strength in this movement will improve your speed in the water and prevent corkscrew twisting.

Sit on the ground and lift your feet a few inches into the air. Keep your knees bent and lean back a little for balance. Turn your upper body to one side and touch the ground, then do the same on the other side. This is even more effective if you use a dumbbell, medicine ball, or other weight of some kind. Make sure you are maintaining control throughout the movements and not allowing your legs to turn, drop, or flap around.

Learn More from SwimJim

SwimJim offers swimming lessons to various ages and experience levels in Houston, NYC, and Brooklyn. Another great way to improve swimming performance is to sign up for our advanced programs or private lessons. Contact SwimJim for information about classes offered in your area and sign up today!