Adam Walker swimming
Training > Swim

Strength training for swimming: 6 key gym exercises

The following exercises have been designed to increase your range of motion and power so that every swim stroke you make becomes more dynamic and helps you cover more distance

Improve your swim on dry land with these 6 gym exercises:

1. Straight arm pull-down

Muscles targeted: Latissimi dorsis, posterior deltoids,
rhomboids, biceps.

 Session: 3 x 6, 2mins rest between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to do a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: Sit on the lat pull-down machine seat with your legs held under the padded restraint and your hands gripping the bar at twice shoulder-width. Pull the bar down powerfully to your chest, then let it travel back up under control. There should be tension in your muscles throughout each 

   

2. Triceps kickback

Muscles targeted: Triceps brachii, posterior deltoids.

Session: 3 x 10, 2mins rest between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to get out a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: With a dumbbell in one hand, bend over and put your opposite hand and knee on a bench in front of you, and plant your free foot on the floor to the side of it. Bring the arm holding the dumbbell up so the upper part is in line with your back and bend your elbow to 90° – this is your start position. From there, straighten your arm out behind you then return it to the start position under control.  

  

3. Hip extension with cable

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, hip extensors.

Session: 3 x 10, 2mins rest between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to do a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: Stand facing a vertical cable machine with the strap of a low pulley around one ankle and grip the bar at chest height. Stand on your free leg and take any slack out of the cable with your strapped leg – that’s your start position. Keep your back straight, pull the cable by stretching your leg behind you to 30˚, then return it to the start under control.

  

4. Swiss ball jackknife

Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominis, obliques, triceps, pectorals.

Session: 3 x 8, 2mins rest between sets.

Method: Get into a press-up position with your legs up on a Swiss ball. Hold the ball in place by pressing your shoelaces into it – this is your start position. Brace your core muscles and pull the Swiss ball towards your arms, bending your legs to allow the ball to roll forwards. Once your legs are fully tucked, return to the start position under control. 

5. Cable rotational pull

Muscles targeted External and internal shoulder rotators, biceps, latissimus dorsi.

Session 3 x 6 to each side, 2mins rest between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to do a couple more reps if you had to.

Method Kneel down on one knee beside a vertical cable pull machine with the pulley set high. Hold the handle so your arms are stretched out above and to your side – this is your start position. With your back straight, pull the handle down across your body in towards the opposite hip. Return the handle to the start position under control.

6. Hip flexion with cable

Muscles targeted: Hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors.

Session: 3 x 10, 2mins rest between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to do a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: Stand with your back to a vertical cable machine and the strap of a low pulley around one of your ankles. Stand with your bodyweight on your free leg and take any slack out of the cable with your strapped leg by bending it slightly at the knee – that’s your start position. Hold your hips or another machine for extra stability and, with a straight back, pull the cable by kicking your leg out in front of you and straightening it as you go. Once your leg reaches 30˚, return your leg to the start position under control. 

Six key exercises for sharpening swim speed

How to improve your swimming out of the water

ILLUSTRATIONS WWW.ACUTEGRAPHICS.CO.UK


 
 

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