The breaststroke is one of the more challenging swimming strokes, requiring strength and endurance. Exercises that simulate breaststroke movements prepare you for this swim stroke, as your muscles remember the movements. Some exercises must be performed in the water, while others may be done in the gym or even on the pool deck.
Air Swimming Breaststroke Pulls
The insweep phase of the breaststroke pull requires the greatest force, so work on building strength and power on this move. Use a strong flutter kick with your hands extended as far in front of you as you can reach. Keeping your arms in front of you, scull your hands back and forth with an emphasis on the insweep. In the gym, set up a two-handle pulley machine with a comfortable amount of weight. Take a handle in each hand and bend forward at the waist until you are in the glide position of the breaststroke. Perform 60 pulls, duplicating the motion of your stroke, including the tempo.
Putting Springs in Your Legs
In the pool, kick on your back while looking at your feet. Watch to be sure your knees just touch the surface and are no farther than one foot apart. Think about pushing the water with the instep of your foot and remember to point your toes at the end of the kick. On land, try deep-knee squat jumps with your knees turned out. Spring upward off of your toes. Younger swimmers can squat quite low, but older swimmers should protect their knee joints by dropping down no farther than a 90-degree bend.
The biggest problem with the breaststroke is the kick, according to Glenn Mills in "Breaststroke -- Timing the Kick." Strengthen your kicking technique in the water with the kick-glide, pull-glide exercise. Swim the breaststroke and separate each kick from each pull with a three second pause. Try to glide as far as possible on each kick and each pull. Also do the dolphin kick drill, in which the breaststroke kick is replaced by a dolphin kick. Work the hips up and down in a dolphin movement while performing the breaststroke pull. This exercises the arms and legs while helping you time your pull with the correct hip position.