A strong core is a key foundation for fast swimming and proper body position. Incorporating core work a few times per week will help you prevent injuries and move through the water more efficiently.
Check out our top 10 bodyweight dryland exercises that strengthen the core! The best thing about these exercises? They can be completed at home with no equipment!
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Why is Dryland Training Important for Swimmers?
Dryland is an essential component of swim training. Any training you do outside of the water to improve your swimming performance and prevent injury counts as dryland, including yoga, running, cycling, weight training, stretching and more.
Related: MySwimPro – #1 Dryland Training App for Swimmers
Dryland has numerous benefits:
- Improve Performance: Building strength out of the water translates to your swimming. Dryland can help improve your core strength, explosive power and general aerobic fitness.
- Prevent Injuries: Overuse injuries are common in swimming. Dryland adds variety to your workouts, engaging your muscles in different ways.
- Stay Engaged: Doing the same type of workouts constantly can cause you to plateau. A dryland plan helps keep you from getting bored!
- Avoid Burnout: Mix up your training with creative dryland workouts so you don’t get burned out!
- No Pool = No Excuses: If you’re traveling and don’t have access to a pool, your pool is closed, or if you’re stuck at home for a while, there’s no excuse to stop working out!
Why Focus on Core Strength?
Related: How to Cross-Train for Swimming
Swimming engages your entire body, and your core plays a major role in how well you are able to move in the water. A strong core helps you find the right position in the water, keeping your body high rather than letting your hips and feet drop toward the bottom of the pool.
Just like other muscle groups in your body, your core fatigues over time. It’s important to build strength and endurance so your core can support your body through all of your workouts!
Related: Dryland Exercises for Swimmers
Core Exercises For Swimmers
Check out our top 10 dryland exercises to help swimmers build core strength!
In the plank, you’re replicating good body position in the water. Focus on keeping your body in a straight line, squeezing your belly button to your spine and engaging your glutes!
2. Side Plank Transverse Reach
This plank variation incorporates a rotational challenge, which is beneficial for injury prevention and body position in the water.
Related: How to do Dryland Workouts at Home
3. Alternating Arm and Leg Plank
Challenge your stability with this plank variation! Holding a plank position, extend your right arm and left leg and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the left arm and right leg! This exercise helps build mind muscle connection across the entire body and is especially helpful for freestyle and backstroke.
4. Leg Raises
Lie on your back and raise your legs up to 90 degrees, keeping your low back pressing into the ground. This exercise targets the lower core muscles, and can help improve your dolphin kick!
5. Flutter Kicks
Mimic flutter kicks on land to improve your kick in the water! Lying on the ground, flutter your legs a few inches off the ground to work your core and hip flexors.
6. Dolphin Kick
Similar to flutter kicks, dolphin kicks on land enhance your performance in the pool. Keep your low back pressed into the ground in this movement to stabilize your back and prevent injuries.
7. Alternating Straight Leg Jack Knife
Similar to the Alternating Arm and Leg Plank, the Alternating Straight Leg Jack Knife is beneficial for finding the total body connection required for freestyle and backstroke.
Related: 15 Low Impact Dryland Exercises for Swimmers
8. Alternating Superman
Build strength in your lower back, glutes and hamstrings with this minimal but effective exercise! You’ll work on the “up” part of your freestyle and dolphin kick, which is often weak in many swimmers. This exercise will also improve your shoulder stability.
9. Rotational Chop
Work on powerful rotation and fire up your lower body with the rotational chop!
Related: 5 Reasons Bodyweight Training Improves Your Swimming Performance
10. Diagonal Chop
The diagonal chop is similar to the rotational chop, but you’ll pivot your hands from low to high across your body.
Building Your Core Workout
When it comes to creating an at-home core workout, you have a few options.
- 1:1 work to rest ratio: Try 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for each exercise you choose. Repeat 2-4 times.
- 2:1 work to rest ratio: Run through all 10 of these exercises, with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 3 times!
Build your own Workout in the MySwimPro app! Choose from our library of over 120 exercises (with and without equipment) and set intervals and rest to create a Workout that works best for you.
It’s important to stay consistent with any type of dryland training. You won’t see results right away. Try to schedule dryland workouts two to three times per week alongside your swims.
Swimmer’s Core Training Plan
If you’d like step by step guidance to build core strength, check out the Swimmer’s Core Training Plan in the MySwimPro app!
- 16 Workouts
- 30-45 minutes
- Swiss ball, medicine ball, resistance bands required. Jump rope and yoga mat optional.
For more dryland exercises and workouts, download the MySwimPro app on your iPhone or Android! Use code SWIM35 for $35 off your first year of MySwimPro Coach >
What is your favorite way to work your core? Let us know in the comments!
I would be great if this could be printed out in a one or two page pdf. Print outs help me do things.
Printouts can be very helpful! You can export all of our workouts in the MySwimPro app to PDFs, which can be printed!
From NZ great ex’s thanks
Some of the cueing in this article might need to be updated. For example, cueing “belly button to spine” is no longer appropriate since it discourages proper belly breathing. Replace with the idea of coughing or someone is about to punch you in the stomach to contract torso muscles. Also, flattening lower back into floor takes the spine out of its neutral position which is also frowned upon. Try placing your hands under the lower back and do the exercise keeping the lower back from pressing into the hands. If you can’t, find a regressed version. These more current views of core work are based on Stuart McGill’s work, lead investigator of spinal research, University of Waterloo. Check him out!
Thank you for these suggestions, Judy!
Like alternating superman best
It’s such a good one!
I want to achieve shoulders and chest like Mr Phelps!
That’s partly genetics, and partly lots of time spent in the pool, lifting heavy weights in the gym and eating for muscle growth and recovery!