Strength Exercises For Swimming – Exercises for Home or the Gym

Example of a squatSwimming in itself it a low resistance aerobic workout, but that does not mean that you will not improve your swimming by working on your overall body strength.

As I write this all swimming pools are currently closed, but even if they were open  strength exercises for swimming that can be performed at home or in a gym are a good training addition to any actual swimming undertaken. Any increase in swim strength will lead to an increase in speed and power, also improving your ability to hold a good, strong body position in the water and improved technique.

In in this article I am going to concentrate on swimming exercises that can be performed at home with limited or no equipment required. I will not go into great detail on the techniques for each exercise but will provide links on how each should be performed where appropriate as this is more a general guide to exercises that I perform and the benefits that they give. Incorporating them regularly into any training plan should soon start to increase your swim strength and I hope that you will find this beneficial.

Where do I Start?

Firstly, before embarking on any new exercise plan if you are not use to strenuous physical activities then it is advisable to consult with your doctor before commencing.Doctor's stethoscope

Also, it is useful to know the areas that the following strength exercises will be targeting to understand the benefits that they can give such as improvement in overall health and energy levels, maintaining a healthy body weight, improved flexibility and hopefully a boost to mental health.

  • Aerobic: Swimming is basically an aerobic exercise incorporating periods of continuous movement. Whilst these exercises are not aerobic in nature, increased strength should allow you to exercise aerobically for longer periods.
  • Strength: Strength training works on increasing your muscle power and strength. All the exercises below, especially those with resistance will work on improving your overall strength.
  • Balance or stability: Improves your body coordination and muscle strength.
  • Flexibility: Good flexibility helps in maintaining a range of motion. Improved flexibility also aids muscle recovery.

Finally, maintaining good form is paramount to achieving maximum benefit from these exercises. I have included some videos to show how these should be carried out and it is always best to perform them slowly without any sudden movements.

In summary, the exercises I have highlighted below will work on all these key aspects to improve your overall strength, health and mobility.


This is an exercise that can be done without any added equipment as you can just employ your body weight, although weights or bands can be added for increased resistance if required. The areas that Squats target is the lower body, thighs and glutes whilst benefiting core strength, stability and flexibility.

  • Strengthen legs, glutes and other muscles
  • Helps in maintaining healthy bones and joints.
  • Improves mobility.

The following video shows how to properly perform a Squat:



These are a pure body weight exercise with no equipment required. By comfortably holding a plank position whilst maintaining good form you will be improving strength in muscles throughout your whole body, whilst concentrating on the core and abdominal muscles, biceps, shoulders and neck.

  • Strengthens core muscles which help to support the back and spinal cord.
  • Works muscle groups throughout the whole body.
  • As overall strength increases you will be able to comfortably hold the plank position over a longer duration.

To effectively perform a Plank you should follow the following instructions and it should look something like the picture below:

  • Get in the push up position, with only your forearms on the ground. Make sure that your elbows line up.
  • Squeeze your glutes, tighten your abdominal.
  • Keep the neck and spine neutral so that you have a long straight line from head to toe, just like a plank…
  • Hold the position.

Proper Plank Technique


Prone Swimmer

This is another exercise requiring no equipment that will work on postural strength and the range of motion in the shoulders.

  • Use slow and controlled movements.
  • Start with sets of 2-4, consisting of 2-5 repetitions.
  • Increase sets and reps as your strength increases over time.
  • Improves overall shoulder health.

My Gym Coach Paulina will now show you the correct technique for Prone Swimmer. Further information regarding the online gym classes that she currently runs are available on the Embrace Nutrition Community Facebook Group.


Mountain Climb

A more high intensity workout than the others this will increase heart rate, improve balance, agility and you will feel your muscles burning. A lower body exercise but you will still feel engagement in your core and upper arms.

  • More high intensity, but start off slowly to avoid injury.
  • Works towards the higher levels of aerobic and into anaerobic levels of exercise.
  • Will improve ability to swim at higher levels of intensity i.e. at a race swim start.
  • Increase duration as form and fitness improves.

The following shows how to properly perform the Mountain Climb:

Push Ups

Push ups concentrate on the upper body strength and again no additional equipment is necessary. They work triceps, shoulders and the pectoral muscles whilst also strengthening the lower back and core by working the abdominal muscles.

  • Builds upper body strength
  • Low impact exercise
  • Start slowly with correct form, increase sets and repetitions as your strength builds over time.

To effectively perform Push Ups you should follow the following instructions:

  • Position yourself on all fours with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Legs extend back so that you maintain a comfortable balance on your hands and toes and with your body in a straight line with no dipping or arching of the back. It is easier if you have your feet slightly wider apart, but they can be together.
  • Contract your abs and tighten your core by pulling your belly button into your spine, keeping the feeling throughout the complete push up.
  • Inhale, slowly bend your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Exhale, and push back up through your hand to your start position and keeping the elbows slightly bent i.e. do not lock them.
  • Increase sets and repetitions as your technique and strength builds, do not overdo things to start with.

Correct Push up Position


Hollow Hold

A little like a reverse Plank, this exercise targets the core and core strength. You should try to keep the hold for 10 – 30 seconds but always maintaining good form. When getting into position for the hold you must ensure that your lower back and bum remains on the ground, with your upper back, shoulder blades and head a few inches from the floor with arms extended straight over your head. Your legs and feet should also be about six inches off the ground.

The key to the exercise is that by contracting the abdominal muscles, you shorten your torso and then perform the pelvic tilt by squeezing your glutes together.

The following shows how to properly perform a Hollow Hold:


The above are a selection of exercises that can be performed at home or in the gym without extra equipment, and all will improve your body strength in areas that will help in increasing your swim strength. Some exercises can be adapted to use equipment such as bands and hand held weights to add resistance and you might find this will increase their effectiveness as your technique and strength improves. I hope the above helps as part of any training routine that you currently use or are setting up to improve your swimming strength and all the benefits that this will bring.

If you have any comments on the above or any other exercises that you think should be included please let me know by commenting below.

Happy Swimming!!!

Open Water Swimmer





    • Hi Fran,

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Any other strength exercises for swimming you might like to share, just let me know.



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