Muscle Strengthening Exercises for Swimmers

Muscle Strengthening Exercises for Swimmers

As a swimmer, you require a great amount of muscular strength and endurance in order to perform in the water. Swimming is an all-over body exercise, therefore weight training the major muscles of your body will help you have more strength in the pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests weight training at least two days a week to gain strength.

Muscular Endurance

As a swimmer, weight training is crucial and your focus should be on developing strong muscles with high endurance capabilities. The NetFit website suggests that swimmers aim for high repetitions, perhaps 15 or more, with low or moderate weights. Train this way for two sets and then train heavier on your last set, with six to 10 repetitions, to increasingly gain strength.

Upper Body

In the pool, you are working your biceps and triceps as you pull the water with your arms, forcefully working against the resistance of the water. The American Council of Exercise suggests completing standing bicep hammer curls and seated dumbbell curls to primarily target the biceps. Complete your curls with your elbows tight to your sides and control your weight slowly up and down. Triceps overhead extensions and dips target train the backs of your arms. Triceps dips should be completed on a bench with straight legs or knees bent for an easier approach. Do exercises for your chest, back and shoulders as well, either using free weights or your own body weight. Consult ACE Fitness exercise library for examples.

Lower Body

The glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings all are engaged in swimming. Whether you are freestyle kicking or using a breaststroke kick, your lower body actively works against the resistance of the water. The seated hamstring curl machine will target the backs of your thighs to build strength and complete the leg extension to target train your quadriceps. Squats will actively engage all the major muscles of your lower body to build strength. Squats can be performed either with or without weights.


Core strength is essential in swimmers. Target train your core with yoga moves. suggests doing plank pose or boat pose to engage the entire midsection to build strength. Plank pose is similar to holding the top of a pushup. Draw your navel in and engage the core by keeping the body in one line. Boat pose begins when you take a seat and extend your legs out 45 degrees in front of you. Holding this static move, place your hands above the floor and out to your sides. Aim to hold both poses for 30 seconds, completing each exercise three times. Pilates exercises done on a mat can be used in conjunction with a yoga workout to strengthen your core. Balance ball exercises, hanging leg raises, cable crunches and reverse crunches are also very effective in strengthening your core.