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Dryland Exercises to Level-Up Your Swimming

Dryland Exercises to Level-Up Your Swimming

You think success in the pool only comes from training in the water? Think again! Here are some exercises you should be factoring into your dryland workouts if you want to see improvements in your in-pool performance.
Dead-bugs are an excellent core exercise, especially for swimmers. Cross-lateral movements involved in swimming can be translated to this on-land exercise as it challenges your core to maintain posture and stability. Remember to keep your bent knee at 90 degrees while your opposite leg extends nearly all the way to the ground, and you’ll feel your core working.
Pallof Press
As we swim, our core does a lot of work to keep the body straight. Wiggling side-to-side instead of maintaining proper body position will cause your efficiency to plummet. Paloff presses help train the anti-rotational muscles in your core to keep you looking good in the water.
Pull-ups really are a swimmer’s best friend. In every stroke in swimming, an efficient pull is integral to speed and power, and pull-ups are a great way to train your pull on land. If you can’t do a bodyweight pull-up, that’s okay! Try banded pull-ups or progressive pull-ups to build your way up.
Aside from exercises for general conditioning, there are certain dryland exercises that may improve aspects of your specific stroke. Here’s one for each stroke to get you started:

Breaststroke: Med ball slams
Med ball slams are a great drill for improving your underwater pullouts, as this is the only time during breaststroke that you can pull past your hips. Focus on getting tall at the top of the movement, then using all your power to slam the ball down. Keep in mind: If you have the option to use a non-bouncy med ball, that’s much safer: we don’t want any broken noses!
Butterfly: Lateral raises
We all know the feeling of getting to the end of a 200 butterfly where our arms feel like they’re made of lead. Try adding lateral raises to your regimen to strengthen your rotator cuff and deltoids through a motion that’s very similar to arm recovery during butterfly stroke.
Freestyle: Banded face-pulls
Oftentimes in freestyle, developing swimmers will forget to maintain a high elbow on both their recovery and pull. With banded face pulls, you’ll be focusing on keeping your elbows up while recruiting muscles from your back to pull – all good things for improving our stroke. Plus, banded face pulls can do wonders for strengthening your rotator cuff, which helps to reduce risk of injury.
Backstroke: Overhead med ball throw
Since backstroke is the only stroke that starts in the water, traditional start drills might not be as relevant for backstrokers. Try OH medicine ball throws, where you can practice launching your arms backwards and completing a triple extension of your ankle, knee, and hip.
These are just a few exercises to add into your training regimen, not an exhaustive list. Keep in mind that muscle endurance is optimal for swimming, so you’ll want to do higher reps with lower weight. I’d recommend doing drylands 2-3 times per week in addition to your in-pool training to avoid overtraining or excessive bulk. Happy swimming!
Shannon McGoey, CPT is a trainer at Merritt Clubs Eldersburg