Getting stronger to swim faster can be done in the pool, but also on land. There are a number of specific exercises you can do wherever you are that will help you improve your swimming. We have listed some simple exercises you can do at home or at the gym that will benefit your swimming.
PUSH-OFF & STREAMLINE
Work your streamline and your push off the wall! Make your regular squat exercises a bit more challenging by holding a streamline, which mimics the streamline push off after each push off the wall.
Stand in streamline with your feet at shoulder width. Slowly squat down until your legs are in a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knees stay stable and keep your core tight. Find your balance. For a more advanced version, try a streamline squat jump. After you slowly drop down into a squat, drive up in streamline and jump as high as you can. Maintain control over your movements.
A strong push off the wall in streamline is 'free speed'. You just need to glide, keep your arms tight in streamline and engage your core. By practicing this with streamline squats, you strenghten your push-off, but also work on your shoulder flexibility to streamline.
Your push-out at the end of each freestyle stroke generates a lot of propulsion. If you do not finish your stroke, or don't accelerate from the catch to the push, you will be missing out on this propulsion. Finishing each stroke with a strong push will also benefit your body rotation. This exercise will strengthen your push-out.
Start on all-fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Pull in your belly button and keep your core tight. With one arm, grab a weight. This can either be a dumbbell, a filled up water bottle, or any other heavy object. Keep your elbow in line with your upper body, with a bend in your elbow so your hand is facing the floor. From this position, lift your hand so it will be in line with your upper arm. It is important here to make sure your elbow stays in place, and does not move around. Don’t forget to switch arms ;-)
Med Ball Slam Downs
Med ball slam downs is a well-known dryland exercise amongst swimmers. You also see this exercise done during CrossFit or other gym workouts, but swimmers do it just a bit differently. We want to keep the elbows ‘high’ as long as possible, to mimic the catch phase, followed by the pull and push phase. You need to try to get the ball under your elbows, and then drive the ball to the ground, and slam it.
Use a medicine ball with a weight of your choice. Stand up straight, and lift the ball above your head, arms straight up. Your first movement should be the bend in the elbow, like when making your freestyle catch. From here, drive the med ball down as hard as you can.
This exercise is great to strengthen your pull-through. Your pull-through starts with the catch, followed by the pull and finishes with a strong push. You should start by setting up an 'easy' catch, not putting too much effort into this part yet. Once your hand and forearm are in the right position, you accelerate to the pull and push. This exercise mimics that perfectly.
CORE & KICK
Streamline flutter kick
Simple but effective dryland exercise. It mimics the flutter kick, but by doing it on your back you really work your core. Doing this exercise with your arms in streamline also makes it a bit harder. This way you will also train your flexibility in your shoulders, by holding the streamline. This also makes it a bit harder to control your movements, which means more core engagement. Win-win? ;-)
Lay flat on your back in streamline and lift your shoulder from the ground slightly. Engage your core and slowly start alternating lifting each leg. Your legs always stay off the ground, they are slowly moving in a flutter kick motion. Once you have this under control, speed up your flutter kick.
Flutter kick on ball
This dryland exercise is a good one. You work on your flutter kick but mostly on your core control. This is important for your body position in the water.
You start in a push-up plank position, with your hands under your shoulders. Place your feet on a swiss ball. With control, start alternating lifting up your legs. When you can maintain control, try to increase your speed. It is important to keep your body horizontal, which means you really need to engage your core. This is a difficult exercise, and beginners could use a bosu ball for more balance.
This exercise translates to your swimming in multiple ways. As said above, it's the perfect exercise to train your core. Keeping your core tight and engaged is crucial when swimming. It keeps your body high and horizontal in the water. Kicking is another important element to maintain your body line, which we try to imitate with this dryland exercise:
Plank leg lifts
This seemingly simple dryland exercise is great for your swimming muscles. You have to control your core, and keep it tight during the whole exercise, otherwise your lower back will collapse. Core engagement is crucial for a good body position in the water, and to be able to rotate properly.
Start in a push-up plank position, with your hands under your shoulders. Pull in your belly button to keep your back straight, and parallel to the ground. Once stable in this position, slowly lift one foot off the ground. Pause for a split second when it is in the air, and then place back on the ground. Alternate between legs. The movement does not have to be very big, it is important that you maintain control over all movements and your core.
Stay tuned for more swim-specific dryland exercises!