The Best Exercises to Improve Swimming Strength

The Best Exercises to Improve Swimming Strength


Swimming is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups, making it an excellent choice for building strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. However, to become a proficient swimmer or a competitive athlete, it's essential to complement your time in the water with dry-land training. In this guide, we will explore a range of effective exercises to improve swimming strength. Whether you're a beginner looking to build a solid foundation or an experienced swimmer aiming to enhance your performance, these exercises will help you reach your goals. 

  1. Bodyweight Exercises for Core Strength

A strong core is fundamental for efficient swimming, as it stabilizes your body in the water and helps maintain proper body position. These bodyweight exercises target your core muscles:

  • Planks: Begin in a push-up position but with your weight supported by your forearms. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position for as long as you can, gradually increasing the time.

  • Russian Twists: Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight, and lift your feet off the ground. Hold a weight or a medicine ball with both hands and twist your torso to touch the weight to the ground on either side of your body.

  • Leg Raises: Lie on your back with your hands under your hips for support. Lift your legs off the ground while keeping them straight. Lower them back down without touching the ground and repeat.

  1. Resistance Band Exercises for Shoulder Strength

Strong shoulder muscles are crucial for generating power in your swim strokes. Resistance bands are a versatile tool for building shoulder strength:

  • External Rotations: Attach a resistance band to a fixed point at waist height. Stand with your side to the anchor point, holding the band in the hand closest to the anchor. Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle and rotate your forearm away from your body against the resistance of the band.

  • Band Pull-Aparts: Hold a resistance band in front of you with both hands, arms extended. Pull the band apart by moving your hands outwards until your arms are fully extended to the sides. Slowly return to the starting position.

  1. Kettlebell Swings for Hip and Leg Strength

Swimming relies heavily on the power generated by your hips and legs. Kettlebell swings are a fantastic exercise to target these muscle groups:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell with both hands between your legs.

  • Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight, and let the kettlebell swing back between your legs.

  • With a powerful hip thrust, swing the kettlebell up to chest height.

  • Control the kettlebell as it swings back down, and repeat the motion for a set number of reps.

  1. Pull-Ups for Upper Body Strength

Upper body strength is crucial for effective swim strokes, especially during the pull phase. Pull-ups are an excellent exercise to build strength in your back, shoulders, and arms:

  • Find a sturdy pull-up bar and hang from it with your palms facing away from your body.

  • Engage your shoulder blades, and without using your legs or momentum, pull your chest up towards the bar.

  • Lower your body back to the starting position with control.

  1. Deadlifts for Overall Strength

Deadlifts are one of the best compound exercises to improve overall strength, including your lower back and legs. A strong lower back is essential for maintaining proper body alignment in the water:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell or dumbbells in front of you.

  • Bend at your hips and knees to lower your body and grab the weight with an overhand grip.

  • Keeping your back straight, lift the weight by extending your hips and knees.

  • Lower the weight back to the ground with control and repeat.

  1. Flutter Kicks for Leg Endurance

Building leg endurance is essential for maintaining a steady kick during your swim. Flutter kicks are an effective exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your arms at your sides or under your hips for support.

  • Lift your legs slightly off the ground, keeping them straight.

  • Alternately kick your legs up and down in a fluttering motion, similar to a swimming kick.

  • Keep your core engaged and continue kicking for a set period or until fatigue sets in.

  1. Medicine Ball Slams for Explosive Power

Swimmers need explosive power for quick turns and strong starts. Medicine ball slams can help develop this explosive strength:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball above your head with both hands.

  • With force, slam the ball to the ground in front of you.

  • Catch the ball on the bounce and immediately repeat the slam.

  1. Push-Ups for Upper Body and Core Strength

Push-ups are a classic exercise that builds upper body and core strength. Variations like wide-grip and diamond push-ups can target different muscle groups:

  • Start in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders.

  • Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your sides.

  • Push your body back up to the starting position.

  • Wide-grip push-ups involve placing your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, while diamond push-ups require placing your hands close together under your chest.

  1. Squats for Lower Body Strength

Squats are an excellent exercise to strengthen your lower body, including your legs and glutes:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Lower your body by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight.

  • Go as low as you can while maintaining good form, and then push through your heels to return to the starting position.

  1. Plyometric Box Jumps for Explosiveness

Plyometric box jumps can improve your explosiveness and leg power, which can be beneficial for strong starts and turns in swimming:

  • Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform.

  • Bend your knees and jump onto the box, landing softly with your knees slightly bent.

  • Step back down and repeat the jump for a set number of reps.


Incorporating dry-land exercises into your training routine is essential for building the strength and power needed for efficient swimming. These exercises target various muscle groups, from your core and shoulders to your legs and back. By incorporating a combination of these exercises into your training regimen, you can enhance your swimming performance and become a stronger, more confident swimmer.

As you embark on your journey to improve your swimming strength, consider Sumarpo wetsuits as your trusted companion. These wetsuits are the choice of professional triathlon athletes and are certified by FINA, ensuring they meet the highest standards for performance. With Sumarpo wetsuits, you can optimize your swim training and confidently pursue your swimming goals.