13 Gym Workouts for Swimmers to Level Up Your Stroke in 2024

Several gym workouts for swimmers can take your swimming game to the next level and amp up your workout. However, many athletes struggle to maximize their swimming abilities without proper knowledge of the best exercise for swimmers.

If you find yourself in this situation, we’ve got you covered. Here are 13 exercises to improve your swimming and ensure you have the strength and power you need to swim and succeed. If you're just starting or getting back into swimming after a long hiatus, consider taking an adult swimming class to get you back into the game. 

Here are the swimming exercises to bring you to the next level. 

1. Squat Jumps 

A squat jump is an excellent way to build body strength and endurance, which is crucial to being a successful swimmer. You can perform squat jumps in the following steps:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent slightly.
  2. Bend your knees until you come to a squatting stance.
  3. Propel your body upward and off the floor, extending your legs. When your legs are fully extended, your feet should be a few inches off the floor.
  4. Land and descend into the squat.
  5. When you land, repeat the next jump. 

If you want to mix things up, consider using a medicine ball during your squat jumps! 

lady doing squat jumps

2. Hanging Crunch 

A hanging crunch relies on your rectus and transverse abdominal muscles to generate strength and stability. For this workout, you’ll need a pull-up bar, and you can also consider hanging ab straps to provide additional stability. You can perform this exercise as follows: 

  1. If using a hanging ab strap, attach it to the pull-up bar and put your arms through the loops.
  2. Grip your hands at the top of the bar and depress your shoulders.
  3. Lift your feet off the ground and hang from the bar with your legs straight out and your triceps parallel to the floor. Fully extend your body.
  4. While in this position, exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, and curl your knees toward your stomach. Hold the position momentarily.
  5. Extend your legs and return to the starting position, repeating for the desired reps.

3. Tricep Extension 

Tricep extensions are a great upper-body workout that can help you build the strength and power necessary to be a swimmer. To complete a tricep extension, go through the following steps: 

  1. Stand with your feet apart in a split-like stance, keeping your left foot slightly behind the right foot. Keep your knees soft, and be sure to engage your core.
  2. Lift the dumbbell over your head with one dumbbell in each hand or a single dumbbell cupped between your hands.
  3. Extend both of your arms completely. As you lower the dumbbell, exhale and bring it behind your head, elbows bent.
  4. As you inhale, reverse this movement and bring the dumbbell back to its starting position.

4. Deadlift 

Deadlifts are excellent strength training exercises for swimmers and involve lifting weights from the ground to your thigh level, exercising your legs and hips. This exercise typically uses a bar with plates or a fixed barbell. You can perform this workout in the following steps: 

  1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and pointing ahead or angled slightly outwards.

  2. Perform a squat, bending your legs at the knees. Keep your hands on the bar just outside your knees and maintain a mixed or overhand grip. Avoid raising your hips or arms first.

  3. Grip the bar and lift upwards, pushing with your legs from your knees. As you lift, breathe out.

  4. At its full height, the bar should rest around your thigh. As you lift, pull your shoulder back as much as you can without bending backward.

  5. Bring the bar back down to the floor in a reverse motion. Repeat as much as desired.

lady deadlifting

5. Shoulder rotations with Resistance Bands

There are several shoulder rotation exercises you can perform with a resistance band. Below are the steps you need to take to perform an external shoulder rotation:

  1. Tie your resistance band to a stable item. Stand perpendicular to the item and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Hold the resistance band in the hand of the shoulder you are exercising. Keep your elbow positioned at 90 degrees and tucked into the side of your body.

  3. Rotate your shoulder outwards in a slow motion.

  4. Keep your hand moving until the back of your hand is facing behind you or as far as your range of motion allows. Hold this position momentarily.

  5. Return your arm to the starting position and repeat for up to 15 repetitions.

6. Kneeling Supermans 

The kneeling Superman is incredibly easy and an excellent way to get a thorough body exercise! To perform this workout, do the following: 

  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees, keeping your body in a straight line. Ensure that your back is flat, and keep your abs tightened.
  2. Place one arm forward and extend the opposite leg straight back. Hold this position.
  3. Return to the starting position and switch sides.

7. Overhead Squat

This exercise requires a barbell, so make sure you have one before beginning. You can also add plate weights if you’re prepared to make this exercise more challenging! 

  1. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart and angled slightly outward. Place the barbell at the back of your shoulders and rest it on your traps
  2. With your hips slightly back, bend your knees, squatting down. Ensure your elbows are fully extended, and keep your chest and torso erect.
  3. Squat as far as you comfortably can.
  4. Press through your feet, using your hamstrings, core, glutes, and quads to extend your knees and hips when returning to the starting position. As you move to stand, exhale.
  5. Do a complete set before returning the barbell to your shoulder position. 

man doing an overhead squat

8. Dumbbell Flyes 

Our final one is another excellent exercise for swimmers requiring only a couple of dumbbells! You can do dumbbell flyes in the following steps: 

  1. Lie back on an incline bench with your feet on either side.

  2. With one dumbbell in each hand, lift your arms above your head and extend. Maintain slightly bent elbows and keep your palms and dumbbells facing together.

  3. Lower the dumbbells in an arcing motion until they align with your chest. Press the dumbbells up in an arcing motion as you exhale.

  4. Complete 10-15 repetitions.

Related Content: What to Bring to Swim Lessons: A 2024 Guide for All Swimmers 

9. Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs

This exercise is also excellent for engaging your latissimus dorsi muscles! To complete a wide grip lat pull down, do the following:

  1. Sit on the lat pull-down machine and adjust it to ensure your thighs fit underneath the supports.

  2. With your hands further than shoulder-width apart, grip the bar. Pull the bar downward until it touches your upper chest, exhaling.

  3. When reaching this position, clench your shoulder blades together. Hold for two seconds.

  4. Return the bar to the starting position as you inhale. Repeat for the desired reps.

10. Tricep Cable Press

This workout needs a cable machine and a straight or V-bar handle attached to the machine’s high pulley. To complete this exercise, take the following steps:

  1. Stand in front of the cable machine and grip the handle with both hands, maintaining an overhand or neutral grip, depending on the handle. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. With your elbows starting close to your sides, extend them and push the handle toward your thighs, exhaling as you push down.

  3. Hold this position momentarily. Release the handle and return to the starting position, repeating for the desired reps.

Man doing a tricep extension

11. Dumbbell Curls

This exercise is relatively simple but effective for swimmers looking to build strength. To do a dumbbell curl, take the following steps: 

  1. Hold a dumbbell with your palm upwards. You can hold a dumbbell in each hand or use a single dumbbell.

  2. Curl the dumbbell up, bending your elbow while keeping it close to your body.

  3. Lower the dumbbell to the beginning position and repeat for the desired reps.

12. Barbell Military Press

This is one of our favorite full-body workouts and is ideal for swimmers to exercise thoroughly! To perform a barbell military press, complete the following:

  1. Rest a barbell on the front of your shoulders, slightly above your collarbone.

  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly pointed outwards. Keep your core braced. Squeeze your glutes.

  3. Press your bar overhead, extending your arms until your elbows lock. Keep the rest of your body steady.

  4. Lower the barbell back to the starting position and complete the desired reps.

13. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a classic exercise that is also incredibly useful for a swimmer and also a great latissimus dorsi exercise. You can perform pull-ups as follows: 

  1. Grip the pull-up bar with both hands, which should be slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Both overhand and underhand grips are okay for this exercise.

  2. Hang your body from the bar with your arms fully extended.

  3. Engage your core muscles and begin pulling your body up toward the bar.

  4. Pull your body upwards until your chin is above the pull-up bar. Hold the position momentarily.

  5. Lower your body back to the starting position and perform the desired reps.

people doing pullups in gym

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