3 Dryland workouts for swimmers of every level

or the land-locked swimmer, dryland workouts provide a way to complement the training they have done in the water.

The goal with dryland training is pretty simple: to provide a foundation of strength and mobility to improve performance in the water.

These workouts provide a solid starting point for doing dryland workouts at home. They are also structured in generally the same way as your swim practices.

As the workouts increase in difficulty, there is more dryland equipment required for each. The staples include a skipping rope, a medicine ball, and a pair of trusty StretchCordz.

Let’s get after it!

Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Bodyweight)

Bodyweight exercises are a great, equipment-free way to get a sweat and build strength.

For swimmers who are just getting into doing dryland, or who are restricted with equipment, this simple bodyweight dryland workout targets your shoulders, posterior chain, quads, core and chesticles.

Things you will need:

  • A solid playlist that is 40ish-minutes long.
  • A cheery, can-do attitude.

Warm-Up/Activation:

  • 10 arm swings in each direction (front, back, monkey, double front, double back)
  • 10 leg swings (front-back, side-to-side)
  • 30 jumping-jacks
  • 10 dead-bugs
  • :30 hip bridge hold
  • :30 front plank
  • :60 jumping rope

Main Set:

The workout is set-up in the same manner as a set of 50s you would do at practice. Think of it as doing 32x50s @1:00. Try to perform as many quality, technically sound reps in the time allotted.

  • 8x :20 push-ups + :40 rest
  • 8x :20 bodyweight squats + :40 rest
  • 8x :20 mountain climbers + :40 rest
  • 8x :20 lunges + :40 rest

Too easy? Increase the number of reps per :20 and/or add :05 to the work (i.e. :25 push-ups + :35 rest).

Dryland Training for Swimming

Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Intermediate)

This workout features an emphasis on using StretchCordz and doing squats.

Squats are a swim-specific exercise that will help you power off of your turns. After all, each time you do a flip-turn or push off the wall, you are performing a squat.

Because this is the fastest you will go during a race (with the exception of when you are flying through the air after the start), powering up your ability to push off the wall with more force and speed has tangible benefits.

The pull part of the main chunk of the work is a contrasting set that alternates the use of StretchCordz with maximal power (or pull-ups) or maximal speed (medicine ball slams).

Things you will need:

  • A banging playlist, around 45 minutes long
  • Resistance band
  • Skipping rope
  • StretchCordz
  • Medicine ball or pull-up bar

Warm-Up/Activation:

  • 10 arm swings in each direction (front, back, monkey, double front, double back)
  • 10 leg swings (front-back, side-to-side)
  • 2×10 band pull aparts
  • 20 dead-bugs
  • :30 banded hip bridge hold
  • :30 front plank
  • :60 jumping rope

Main Set:

Part 1: 10 rounds, each round @2:00…

  • :30 StretchCordz freestyle pull
  • :30 rest
  • 5 pulls ups or 10 single arm med ball slams
  • Take the rest of the minute rest

4-5 minutes rest. Shake it out. Get some water in you. Add a couple tasty licks to your playlist.

Part 2: 5 rounds, each round @2:00…

  • :30 bodyweight squats + :30 rest
  • :15 squat jumps + :45 rest

Core:

  • 3×30 flutter kicks on your back
  • 3×30 russian twists
  • 3×30 mountain climbers

Recovery

  • 15-minute stretch

Dryland Workout for Swimmers (Advanced)

Ready to hit beast-mode with your dryland workouts?

This advanced dryland workout is specific to developing speed endurance and power. Like the intermediate workout, this one relies on the use of StretchCordz and squats.

The main set features :30 of work that is meant to simulate doing a 50 with maximum effort in the water, with enough rest (1:00) that you can keep your effort and power output at a high level.

Things you will need:

  • An aggressive, up-tempo playlist; around an hour long
  • Resistance band
  • Skipping rope
  • Medicine ball
  • Skipping rope
  • StretchCordz
  • Foam roller

Warm-Up/Activation:

  • 10 arm swings in each direction (front, back, monkey, double front, double back)
  • 10 leg swings (front-back, side-to-side)
  • 3×10 band pull aparts
  • 3×20 dead-bugs
  • 2x :30 banded hip bridge hold
  • 2x :30 front plank
  • :60 jumping rope
  • 2×10 med ball slams
  • 5 squat jumps max height

Main Set

3 rounds…

  • 8x :30 FAST + 1:00 rest
  • Round 1: StretchCordz – butterfly pull
  • Round 2: Goblet squat jumps with medicine ball
  • Round 3: StretchCordz – freestyle pull
  • 3:00 break between rounds. Grab some water, shake it out, tinker with your playlist.

Too easy? Step further back with the StretchCordz to increase resistance and/or try adding more reps to the :30 of work.

Core:

  • 3×30 flutter kicks on your back
  • 3×30 russian twists
  • 3×30 mountain climbers
  • 3×20 banded glute bridge marches

Warm-Down

  • 15 minutes stretch and foam roll

Where to buy the gear you will need for these dryland workouts:

StretchCordz. One of the old-school dryland training tools that never goes out of style, StretchCordz are available with paddles or with handles. They come in different levels of resistance (blue is the hardest one). Click here to buy StretchCordz.

Medicine Ball. Not all medicine balls are made alike, and when it comes to performing medicine ball slams, few are tough enough to take the punishment, usually splitting. The TRX Slam Ball is made specifically to take all of the slamming you can muster. Amazon also makes their own version.

Pull-up bar. Another standard in the dryland exercise repertoire, pull ups target your back, and more specifically your lats, which are fundamental to pulling yourself through the water. There are plenty of different at-home pull up bars you can set-up to be able to do this foundational exercises at home.

Exercise bands. I love looped exercise resistance bands for their versatility. I use them almost daily for pull-aparts (great for shoulder strength and stability) and performing various glute and hip stability exercises. Available in a variety of different resistance levels. This pack of resistance bands are well rated and relatively cheap.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer and the author of the books YourSwimBook and Conquer the Pool. He writes all things high-performance swimming, and his articles were read over 3 million times last year. His work has appeared on USA Swimming, SwimSwam, STACK, NBC Universal, and more. He’s also kinda tall and can be found on Twitter.

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