Swimming5 Strength Training Exercises to Improve Swimming Performance

5 Strength Training Exercises to Improve Swimming Performance

5 Strength Training Exercises to Improve Swimming Performance

By Kayla Riemensperger

Weight training is often a highly debated topic in the world of swimming. While there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer to whether or not weights are beneficial for developing swimmers, many year-round programs don’t even use weight training. Therefore, swimmers typically are not exposed to the weight room until college. For college swimmers, weight training typically becomes an integral part of the training regimen.

Strength Training In College

Photo Courtesy: Kayla Riemensperger

Many college swimming programs rely on weight training to help build strength and power to increase their athletes’ performance. Chris Ritter, the founder of RITTER Sports Performance online training programs and author of the e-book SURGE STRENGTH, defends weight training in an article on U.S. Masters Swimming, writing that it “helps swimmers prevent injury and increases their speed by getting stronger.”

Many college swimmers enjoy the results from the weight room both in physique and performance improvements. Former DePauw swimmer Allison Tallen noticed a huge change in her performance throughout her freshman year as she was introduced to weights: “I found myself feeling stronger and faster in the water – something I hadn’t ever felt during club season.” She noticed the changes in her body and experienced significant drops in her times. “By the end of the season, I was swimming times I had never swum before. I think our strength training program was very beneficial for our performance.”


Here are five key exercises along with their benefits that coaches can incorporate into weight room programs for great results.

1. Pull-ups


Photo Courtesy: US Air Force

How is it beneficial: A proper stroke when swimming generates a full extension all the way through the lats, back, shoulders, and even the wrist. Therefore, a pull-up done properly mimics such movement. This allows the swimmer to strengthen their pull as they glide through the water.

2. Lateral Lunge

Lateral Lunge

Photo Courtesy: G. John Mullen

How is it beneficial: This movement opens up the muscles of the groin and hips, thus helping to improve a swimmer’s hip rotation, which according to many coaches is vital in swimming. Many distance swimmers end up relying on their hip rotation to allow for them to take long and strong strokes and pull more water. Especially when swimming those longer races.

3. Alternating Dumbbell Press


Photo Courtesy: By Master Sgt. Claude Lawson, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron

How is it beneficial: This exercise helps to promote shoulder stability without placing excessive pressure directly onto the joint. Shoulder stability is important to many swimmers with the excessive amount of stress swimmers put on their shoulders swimming lap after lap. If a swimmer builds strong shoulder stability they can lower their chances of developing shoulder issues later on in their swimming career such as tendonitis.

4. Mini Band External Rotation

How is it beneficial: This exercise is best in helping strengthen your hips and glutes, which provide much of your power in swimming. Think of how powerful a swimmer’s kicks are, they generate from a swimmers hips so if a swimmer has strong hips then that will lead to strong kicks. This is especially important to swimmers who swim sprint races, since they draw a lot of their power from their kicks to move through the water.

5. Squat Jump

How is it beneficial: This exercise focuses on working the hips, knees, and ankles. Which is important in helping to create power off the blocks and off the wall. Swimmers rely on their starts and turns during races so by working your muscles that are involved in getting off the blocks as well as quick turns swimmers can develop and increase their speed as well as reaction time.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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