If you really want to swim faster, you need to be doing dryland training! Building strength out of the water directly translates to your swimming performance. 

Unfortunately it’s not quite as easy as simply doing a few push-ups and calling it a day. We rounded up the five most common dryland training mistakes we see swimmers make, and how to fix them so every workout is a great one!

1. Not Warming Up

Every dryland workout should include a warmup. If you go into your workout cold, you’re putting yourself at risk for injuries, and you won’t get the most out of your workout. 

Incorporate a 5-10-minute dynamic warmup into each dryland session. Your warmup should get your heart pumping with some light stretching and activation movements to fire up your muscles. Check out some of our favorite warm up movements:

Jumping Jacks

Arm Circles

Arm Swings

Dynamic Hamstring Stretch

2. Poor Technique

Your workout isn’t as effective if your technique is incorrect. You work on your stroke technique in the water, and you should do the same on land! 

Do your best to move with the best form possible to maximize muscle engagement and avoid injuries. It’s always better to take it slow and do fewer reps with great form than it is to push through with bad form.

Related: How to Cross-Train for Swimming

Here’s how to fix your form for three common exercises: Push-ups, squats and planks.


Focus on maintaining a solid bodyline from your shoulders to your toes (like a streamline in the water!). For a narrow push-up, keep your hands under your shoulders. Walk your hands wider for a wide push-up. As you bend your arms and lower down, keep your core engaged. Your low back should not dip toward the ground!

Modify push-ups by dropping to your knees or elevating your hands on a chair, bench or table. 


Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and start sitting back, like you’re sitting in a chair. Try to keep your knees behind your toes – if your knees start to go past your toes, you may be putting excess stress on your knees. 

In your squats, only go as far as your hip mobility allows. If your butt tucks under as you get to the bottom of a squat, you may experience low back pain after lots of squatting, so try to keep your lower back neutral. Focus on engaging your glutes and driving straight up as you return to the starting position. 


Ideal plank technique looks a lot like the starting point for a push-up. Whether you choose to plank on your hands or your elbows, make sure your foundation is right under each shoulder. 

Squeeze your butt, engage your core and strive to keep your body nice and straight from shoulders to toes. Shrug your shoulders away from your ears!

3. Overtraining

It may feel like you need to train hard every day to see results, but that’s just not the case! In fact, if you push yourself too hard without a rest, you risk overtraining, which can set you back big time.

Related: Try This 30-Minute Shoulder Health Workout for Swimmers!

Make sure to prioritize rest and recovery in your training routine. Think of your rest days as part of your plan: In order to continue training hard and making progress, you need that rest! 

Make sure your nutrition and hydration are on point between workouts as well. Without adequate calories, your body can’t perform. Check out our interview with a swimming dietitian for meal ideas! 

Incorporate stretching or foam rolling into your schedule a few times a week to give your muscles some extra TLC. Try holding these stretches for 30 seconds to one minute on your next recovery day:

Shoulder Stretch

Tricep Stretch

Wide Leg Forward Fold + Twist

4. Not Doing Swimming-Specific Movements

It’s one thing to do random dryland exercises with the hope that they’ll make you stronger. It’s another to approach your dryland training thoughtfully, programming exercises that will help build strength for swimming specifically. 

This applies especially to injury-prone areas, such as the low back and shoulders. In swimming, you’re doing repetitive movements that can put strain on those areas if you aren’t strong enough. 

Try scapula push-ups to keep your shoulders and core strong and healthy!

Scapula Push-ups

5. Not Doing Dryland at All

If you’re really committed to swimming faster, you need to be doing dryland at least a few times per week. We recommend twice a week to start. If you don’t stay consistent, you could plateau in your progress – swimming on its own can only get you so far! 

Related: 4 Reasons Swimmers Should Lift Weights

Find a dryland activity that you enjoy and are able to do consistently. Many swimmers enjoy weight training, yoga, running, cycling, or hiking. Choose what works best for you!

For help getting started with your swim training, check out the MySwimPro app. Try adding dryland to your recommended Training Plan for a weekly calendar of Workouts that balances swimming and dryland. Start a MySwimPro Coach subscription to get your personalized Training Plan!

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