How to Train for Swimming Without a Pool

Muscular man doing exercises with dumbbells in gym

Swimming is a sport that requires a lot of endurance and uses muscles throughout your body. Spending as much time in the pool as possible working on different strokes is a key to faster times. For times when you can’t get to the pool, or just want to mix up your routine, you can work on your swimming muscles and endurance outside the pool, too. Various weight training movements and calisthenics will strengthen and condition your body for swimming, so you won’t have to miss a beat when a pool isn’t available.

Hold a barbell or dumbbells with an overhand grip and bend over at the waist with your feet around shoulder width apart. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. Pull the weight up to the middle of your chest, squeezing your back muscles. Lower the weight and repeat.

Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and your hands a little bit wider than shoulder width. Pull your body weight up to the bar, stopping when the bar is even with the top of your chest. Lower yourself slowly and repeat. Do the exercise with an underhand grip, as well.

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides or hands behind your head. Straighten your legs in front of you and quickly flutter kick your feet up and down. Keep your feet off the ground during the entire exercise.

Stand in a shoulder width stance with a light dumbbell in each hand. Lift the dumbbells out in front of you with your palms facing down, and slowly simulate a breaststroke movement.

Position yourself in a standard pushup stance with your hands about double the width of your shoulders. Lower your body until your arms are at 90 degrees, the push back up and repeat.

Stand on one leg, with the other leg slightly bent and out in front of your body. Squat down as far as you can go, or until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Push back up to the start and repeat. Hold your arms out for balance as necessary and do both legs.


Use light weights on all exercises using resistance, and at least 15 reps on all exercises to help build endurance.


Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.