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Best stretch cords for swimmers

Looking to improve your swimming and wondering what stretch cords are all about? Here we explain why you should try them – and find the best ones out there to buy now

Female triathlete using stretch cords

You may have come across stretch cords before and wondered what they are all about.


Most pro swimmers will have a set in their kit bag and if you’ve watched a triathlon on TV, you may have seen athletes using them to warm up ahead of the swim start. So what are they and why should you use them?

Put simply, stretch cords are a length of rubber tubing with handles on each end that can be hooked around a door handle, heavy item of furniture or even a tree and used to perform similar pulling and catching motions to those you would use in the swim.

Why consider using swimming cords

The benefits? In training, this allows you to get used to being in a strong swimming position and allows you to isolate and activate the key muscles used throughout your stroke.

Performing small, strong repetitions can help develop good technique, such as the early vertical forearm needed to get maximum catch as your arm returns through the water.

Using swim cords will also help strengthen your catch and pull in a similar way to using hand paddles in the water.

All swimmers will find benefit in this, but if you’re a sprinter or targeting a swimrun, for example (where paddles are permitted equipment), then you may find even more use in training with swim cords.

Warm up before the swim on race day

Warming up for swimming with swim cords
Credit: Getty Images

You can use them on race day, too (or in fact before any swim training session, either in the pool or in open water), to warm and activate the muscles and to send blood to these key areas of the body – which is the reason you’ll see many pros doing a quick swim cord warm-up before the race starts.

One note of caution – use a lighter set of cords with less resistance on race day. You just want to get the blood moving and muscles activated without overloading them.

Great way to train when you can’t get into the water

The other main benefit of swim cords can be if you’re unable to get in the water for any reason.

For example, not having a pool close to hand (people working in the armed forces or overseas often struggle to get swim training in the water), having an injury on another part of your body, which means you can’t get in the water, or recovering from an illness that rules out the pool.

Having a simple set of swim cords allows you to get a good, swim-specific workout that will translate better than weight training when you come to get back to swimming. This is because you’ll have worked muscles such as the lats in exactly the way you need to for front crawl.

When using the cords, think about replicating the kind of drills you would do in the water to keep things simple.

Things like doggy paddle, single arm and broken arrow, as well as some replication or breaststroke arms and fly arms (if you do those strokes) are a good way to get started. For more simple ideas, see our article about simple land exercises you can do to improve your pull.

Best stretch cords for swimmers

The good news is, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good land-based swim exercise. From a simple length of Theraband or similar to full stretch cords or even a swim-specific workout machine like the Swim Fast Ergo Swim Bench, there are options for every swimmer and budget.

Below are some options that either have lots of good consumer reviews or we’ve either tried ourselves.

Finis Dry Land Cord

Cords 1

We picked out this set of stretch cords from established swim brand Finis to lead this piece as they include all you basically need to get started using stretch cords without over-complicating things.

That means you have a simple piece of gear to stash in your kit bag that can be pulled out quickly and put to use.

Here, you get durable rubber tubing with two comfortable handles, as well as a strap that can be used to attach the cords to your chosen anchor point.

There are different resistance options available to buy as well, which means you can choose based on your level of ability/strength as well as your planned use. Yellow are light, green medium and red heavy.

Dryland Powercord with Paddles

Cords 2

If you want to take things a little further and buy a set of stretch cords with more elements, then look for one with hand paddles included rather than just simple handles.

These will be especially helpful if you’re training with paddles a lot in the pool, or planning to use them extensively – for example in a swimrun race.

This set has a four-star average rating on Amazon and comes with a 1.5-metre cord, an attachment loop and two hand paddles as well as a storage bag.

Two strengths (basic and advanced) are available, with a price difference of a couple of pounds .

Buddyswim Super Stroke Dryland 2.0

Cords 3

In this set you get the cords as well as an anchor loop, plus the comfortable simple handles you hook over your hands and a set of more-specific swim paddles, allowing more versatility in your training and options for different workouts.

Here, choose from five different buying options with a range of strengths and resistances, from extra-light all the way through the extra-heavy.

Theraband Resistance Bands Set


They may not be as swim-specific, but a Theraband is a really good, simple way to incorporate some dry-land resistance exercises into your training.

Simply loop the length of band around an anchor point, wrap it around your hands on each end and use to perform similar exercises to those you would with the stretch cords.

Alternatively, ask a fellow swimmer to hold the other end while you perform an exercise.

The beauty of using these bands is that they can be easily wrapped or gripped in different places to make them longer or shorter.

In this set you also get a range of different strengths, which can easily be used for working other body parts too.

See our list of the best resistance bands for more options.

TRX All-In-One Suspension system

TRX system

One for triathletes or swimmers with a pain cave or large space in which to hang and use it, the TRX system is like stretch cords on steroids!

Here, you get a suspension trainer, a suspension anchor, a door anchor, a getting-started guide and access to the TRX Training Club app.

The TRX system offers full workouts using your own body weight to work against gravity and the app gives you ideas and instructional videos.

Some gyms also offer TRX sessions with a trainer or in a group setting, so if you want to see if it is for you, then try one out before you buy.

Swim Fast Ergo Swim Trainer

Swim Ergo

For those with the room and a serious need to get their dry-land training in, you won’t beat the Swim Fast Ergo.

Based around a similar concept to a rowing machine, this allows you to lie horizontally and perform swim motions with varying resistance supplied by the system of pulleys and cords.


Rotation on the bench allows your body to move, while adjustments also allow you to perform breaststroke and fly. It also folds for storage.