Home Exercises for Swimmers
To get better at swimming, you have to get in the water. But, dry land workouts offer a lot of benefit to enhance your pool work in building hip and shoulder flexibility, core strength, shoulder strength and back power. Before tackling this set of moves that are easily done at home, warm up with a few minutes of jumping jacks and marching in place.
1. Squat with Arms Overhead
Holding your arms up by your ears as you squat engages the stabilizing muscles of your back and works your shoulders' range of motion.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Raise your arms up by your ears, elbows straight. Keep your arms in place as you bend your knees and hips to send your seat back into the squat. Rise up to complete one rep.
2. Plank Shoulder Tap
A strong core helps you maintain a streamlined position on the body so you reduce drag and can take advantage of the propulsive forces generated by powerful arms and legs.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into a push-up position with the arms right under your shoulders — wrists, elbows and shoulders make one line. Stay in the plank as you lift your right arm up to tap your left shoulder. Replace it in the floor and repeat with the left arm tapping the right shoulder. Move swiftly, but with control, as you continue to alternate sides.
Supermans strengthen the supporting muscles of the spine that also contribute to a strong core and streamlined body position in the water.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your abdomen with your arms outstretched overhead and your legs extended behind you. Inhale and lift your arms, face, legs and thighs up off the floor. Pause for a breath and lower back down to complete one rep.
4. Side Plank Rotation
While core stability is essential, you need some hip rotation to facilitate efficient pulling and kicking while swimming. The side plank rotation targets the obliques to help you generate the slight roll necessary to a skilled freestyle and backstroke.
Add a rotation to side plank for extra oblique work.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into side plank by lying on your right side with your legs and hips stacked. Balance on your outer right foot and right forearm as you lift your hips — if this is too challenging, put your right knee in the floor for support. Reach your left arm up to the ceiling. Exhale and thread the left arm under your torso and look toward the back wall. Raise the arm to complete one rep. Do all the reps on the right and switch sides.
Pull-ups facilitate the proper swim stroke by mimicking the extension of the lats, shoulders and wrist. Developing these muscles give your pull more power.
HOW TO DO IT: Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand, slightly wider-than-shoulder distance grip. Bend your elbows and retract your shoulder blades to pull your collarbones up to the bar. Straighten the arms back to the hang for one rep.
Lateral lunges increase hip range of motion.
6. Lateral Lunge
Hip rotation is an important part of a good swim strike. The lateral lunge opens the muscles of the groin and hip.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your hands on your hips. Step 3 to 4 feet to the right, keeping your toes pointed straight ahead. Bend into the right leg and push your right buttock back. Return to center and then repeat on the left. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
7. Alternating Dumbbell Press
This simple shoulder exercise builds strength and stability in the shoulders individually. If you don't have a set of dumbbells at home, use water bottles filled with sand.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on a workout bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Bring your arms up and bend your elbows. Your upper arms should parallel to the floor and your forearms perpendicular. Push the right arm straight up and then lower back to the bent elbow. Repeat with the left. Continue to alternate for the duration of the set.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.