If you struggle with knee or lower back pain or injuries, high impact workouts that involve jumping and explosive movements may not work well for your body.
You can still get a great dryland workout in if you focus on low impact movements to build full-body strength and stability! We’re sharing our 15 favorite low impact exercises you can do at home with minimal or no equipment.
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Benefits of Dryland Training
- Increase Muscle Engagement: Swimming is an amazing low impact activity, but it’s tough to focus on strengthening a specific muscle group during a swim workout. Dryland training allows you to maximize muscle engagement and increase your performance in the pool.
- Injury Prevention: Dryland training helps prevent common swimming injuries and correct muscular imbalances.
- No Pool = No Excuses: If you don’t have access to a pool for some reason, you can still get a great dryland workout in that keeps you moving toward your goals!
Why Low Impact?
- No Impact: Many swimmers love the zero gravity nature of swimming. Minimal impact means you can swim more often than you could run or lift weights.
- Reduced Stress on Joints: Swimming is gentle on your shoulders, knees, hips and lower back compared to other sports or fitness activities. Low impact dryland training can help you build strength while remaining mindful of your joints.
- Consistent Training Yields Results: Consistent swimming and low impact dryland training will help you improve your performance safely in the long-term.
Related: 10 Health Benefits of Swimming
10 Low Impact Dryland Exercises (No Equipment)
Give these joint-friendly dryland exercises a try during your next workout!
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Extend your hands straight to the ceiling and bend your knees so they make a 90 degree angle. Extend your right leg and left hand, keeping your left leg and right hand in the starting position. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Sitting tall on a chair, extend your right leg and lift your left arm. Just like swimming backstroke, keep your toes pointed, and arms straight.
Raised Leg Crunch
Start lying on your back. Bend your knees and lift them up, maintaining a 90 degree angle. Place your hands behind your head. Lift your head and shoulders up off the ground and crunch toward your legs. Lower back down and repeat!
Standing I, T, Y, W
Start by standing tall, then raise your arms forming the letters with your body. I, T, Y, and finally W where your hands are at the same height as your face and you focus on bringing your shoulder blades back to each other.
Begin on all fours, with your hands below your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Tuck your pelvis under and squeeze your butt to maximize core engagement. Think about squeezing your belly button to your spine!
To begin, lie on your stomach with your arms out in front of you. Looking straight down at the floor and keeping your core engaged, lift your arms and legs off the ground. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds and release.
Alternating Straight Leg Jack Knife
Lay on the ground with your legs extended. Place your hands behind your head. Lift your right leg up and reach your left arm to your right foot. Lower back down. Repeat with the left leg and right arm.
Start laying on your back with your feet extended. Press your low back into the ground, and lift your legs up to the ceiling. You may find it helps to put your hands under your butt for extra leverage.
Russian twists develop rotational core strength, which is important for backstroke and freestyle. Sit on the floor, with your torso at a 45 degree angle. Keeping your back straight, clasp your hands in front of you and rotate side to side.
Start lying on your back with your feet planted on the ground. Make sure your lower back is completely flat to the ground. Squeeze your butt and lift up into a bridge position. Hold for 1-2 seconds, making sure your back doesn’t arch at the top.
5 Low Impact Exercises with a Swiss Ball
If you have a Swiss ball at home, give these low impact exercises a shot!
Hand to Feet Ball Pass
Lie on your back with the ball in your hands. Bring your arms and legs up, passing the ball from your hands to your legs. Squeeze the ball with your legs and return to the starting position. Repeat, passing the ball back and forth.
Bent Knee Bridge
Lie on the ball with both feet on the ground and your knees bent 90 degrees. Engaging the glutes and core, bridge up, hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
Begin with your stomach on the ball and hands and feet on the ground. Extend your right arm and left leg, hold for a moment, and return to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm and right leg.
Supine Lateral Roll
Start with your upper back and shoulders on the ball and feet planted on the ground. Extend your arms out to the side. Glide right to left, maintaining a strong core and keeping your head and neck in alignment.
Warm up your lower back and gently stretch out muscles that are often tight in swimmers. Sit on the ball. Tuck your pelvis under, rounding your lower back. Then, arch your lower back. Repeat. Then, extend your hands out to your sides. Shift your hips side to side, thinking about bringing your hip closer to your shoulder each rep.
Related: 10 Swiss Ball Dryland Exercises for Swimmers
Low Impact Dryland Training Plans
Ready to start your low impact dryland training journey? Check out these training plans in the MySwimPro app! Each plan is thoughtfully designed to safely progress you to more complex, intense workouts as you get stronger.
- 6 weeks, beginner focused
- 3 workouts per week
- No equipment needed
- 4 weeks, intermediate/advanced
- 4 workouts per week
- Swiss ball, medicine ball, resistance bands
Related: MySwimPro – The #1 Dryland App for Swimmers
What are your favorite low impact exercises? Let us know in the comments! If you’re ready to start training, try our ELITE COACH subscription free!
Just found your site. With an Achilles’ tendon injury, I’d been swimming but Covid shut pool down early March. I started walking with swim buds but my Achilles injury flared up. These dry land exercises are just what I need!
So glad we can help you out!