The 9 Best Exercises For Swimmers

Try these outside the pool.



Swimming uses almost every muscle in the body, says Tempo coach Cole Charlton. But you really need strong lats for a good swim stroke and powerful legs to propel you through the water. Here, trainers share exercises for swimmers to try outside the pool.


Chest Press

These help balance all the pull motions you do in the water, Charlton says.

- Lie on floor, weight in one hand.

- Extend weighted arm up straight.

- Breathe in, bend elbow.

- Allow weight to come down to chest.

- Push back up to start.

- Do 5 reps, 5x per arm.


Barbell Squats

Trainer Karina Inkster says this glute exercise will help you push off the pool wall.

- Feet slightly wider than shoulders, barbell on upper back.

- Chest up, back flat.

- Hinge hips, squat until thighs parallel to floor.

- Press into feet, stand.

- Do 15 reps, 3x.



Inkster calls pull-ups one of the best exercises for swimmers.

- Grab pull-up bar with an overhand grip.

- Pull shoulders down and away from ears to activate upper back.

- Engage core.

- Pull elbows down, lift chest to bar.

- Lower slowly.

- Do as many reps as you can.


Bar Hangs

SwimStrength’s Jake Tyson recommends a simple bar hang to train your shoulders and back.

- Use overhand grip, hang from pull-up bar.

- Breathe through nose. Hang as long as you can.

- Drop down, shake it off, hang for another 3 mins.

- Aim to hang longer the next day.

Getty Images/Luca Sage

Bear Crawls

Tyson says these help with your balance in the pool.

- On hands and knees, balls of feet grip into floor.

- Raise knees.

- Crawl forward with right hand, left foot.

- Keep hips level as you continue to crawl forward, alternating hands and feet.

- Do 3 sets of 10.


Leg Extensions

Trainer Jesse Feder recommends this quad exercise for a powerful kick.

- Adjust seat on leg extension machine.

- Lean against backrest, no arch.

- Shins on leg pad, push against pad until legs fully straight.

- Contract quads. Slowly lower.

- Do 10-15 reps, 3x.



Kuudose trainer Joey Thurman suggests pullovers to work lats, chest, and triceps.

- Lie on bench or ground.

- Grab dumbbell with diamond grip.

- Hold weight above chest.

- Extend back behind head.

- Pull weight back to chest.

- Do 10-20 reps, 3-5 sets with breaks.


Bird Dogs

Pilates pro Kyle Georgina Marsh likes this move to work hamstrings. It also imitates the pattern you use when swimming.

- On all fours, extend right leg behind you, left arm forward.

- Hold 3-5 seconds.

- Lower limbs.

- Repeat on other side.

- Alternate 15-20 times.


T Pulls

Marsh says this exercise works the lats and posterior chain.

- Lie face down on yoga mat.

- Extend arms straight out to sides, palms down.

- Lift head, chest, arms up, hover.

- Hold 3-5 seconds.

- Lower down.

- Repeat 10-15 sets.

- For challenge, add light hand weights.