The Best Strength Workout for Swimmers

Swimming is a full-body cardio workout. But it’s still a smart idea to take your training out of the water to build power, speed, and muscular balance, says Dan Daly, Equinox Tier X Coach in New York City.

“A dry-land, resistance training program is important for developing the capacity to go farther or faster while minimizing repetitive physical and psychological stress,” explains Daly.

Because, while swimming is a low-impact discipline, you’re still at risk for overtraining specific muscles. What’s more: “The repetitive overhead- and anterior-dominant [front-of-body] patterns can create imbalances in the absence of a complementary strength program,” Daly says.

To stave off injury and improve your stroke, Daly recommends swimmers do specific exercises focused on the posterior chain, which’ll hit your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower and upper back muscles. This will strengthen any weaknesses and light up areas swimming won’t typically stimulate.

Strong, mobile hips and shoulders and a stable core will also help support an efficient, powerful stroke in the pool or open water. Developing these muscles through strength training will help you avoid shoulder and lower back problems common in swimmers.

The Strength Training Routine to Make You A Stronger Swimmer

How to do it: You’ll start with straight sets of Kettlebell/Dumbbell Armbars to prep your body for the more intense movements. You’ll complete all sets (with minimal rest in between), then rest for the prescribed duration and move on to Streamline Squat Jumps, a plyometric exercise that’ll raise your heart rate. You’ll complete all sets for this exercise, then go on to the supersets.

For the supersets, complete the first move for the recommended reps and sets before going straight into the second move.

Do the entire routine once through, emphasizing load and tension. Closer to a competition, you can shift your focus to speed and power.

In the off-season, Daly recommends a full-body routine like this one 3-4 days a week, while reducing overall swimming volume.

In-season, he recommends a full-body resistance training session 2 days per week to accommodate high-swimming volume and frequency.

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