These exercises will help you maintain swim strength, reduce the likelihood of injury and improve your swim stroke and strength.
Perform all exercises holding the correct form. If you can’t hold the correct technique, then stop the exercise. Don’t try to force out extra press-ups at the expense of bad technique.
Press-ups – Narrow grip, normal, decline pressups – 3 sets of each grip type press-up 10 reps each. – That is 90 press-ups straight away!
Exercise 1 -- Narrow grip Press-up – engages the triceps (back of the arms) all hand positions really work the muscles used in swimming. Easiest version is to do on your knees. More advanced version is to be in the full press-up position. Keeping the elbows tucked into your body really squeeze the triceps as you push to the extended position.
Exercise 2 – Wide grip press-up – hands should be under elbows. Chest all the way to the ground look forwards. Easiest version is the box press-up, then three quarter (on the tops of your knees), then full press-up position. This works the triceps and the chest muscles.
Exercise 3 – Decline press-up – using a step of chair put both feet on the chair with your hands on the floor in the press-up position. Perform a press-up. Engage the core by tightening the glute muscles and drawing the belly button in. This will work the shoulders like a shoulder press.
Exercise 4 – Flutter kicks on back – either lie flat on your back (Easiest option) or lean back and use your hands to support your body at a 45-degree angle (more advanced option). Lift both feet off the floor about a couple of inches above the ground and then kick your legs up and down keeping your legs straight. Concentrate on forcing the lower back into the floor. If you feel that you are starting to get an arch forming in your lower back, then stop the exercise. Repeat this for 30 seconds. Flutter kicks on your front – lie face down on the floor and kick as if you were doing front crawl. This will really engage your glutes and lower back muscles.
Exercise 5 – Dips. Use a chair, bench low table or windowsill. Sit on the object and place your hands on the edge of the object you are using to support you. Your fingers should be facing 180 degrees from each other. Lower your body off the chair and down until you have a right angle in your elbow and then push back up and repeat. By turning the hands to 180 degrees you take the load of the front shoulder and it is a more natural body position to perform the exercise. 3 X 30 – 60 seconds of this exercise or until you can’t hold the correct technique.
Exercise 6 – Walking the plank – in the plank position with hands flat on the floor tighten the glute muscles and drawing the belly button in walk the hands forwards as far as you can and then walk them back to the starting position. 3 sets of 30 – 60 seconds.
Exercise 7 – Plank threading the needle – in the plank position tighten the glute muscles and pull your belly button in then reach through with one hand underneath your body and reach as far as you can. You could even aim for a point and tap it then come back to the original position but don’t put your hand down go straight again for another go. Keep repeating for 30 seconds each side.
Exercise 8 – Side plank – on your side resting on your elbow and forearm with both legs one on top of the other. Elbow should be underneath your shoulder. Static side plank just hold the position with your hips raised off the floor. You can progress this to just lifting your hips off the ground and then lowering the hips back to the floor. A more advanced version would be to reach under your body and then extend the arm upwards. A further move would be to bring your top arm elbow to your knee as you bring your knee up to your chest. This really engages the oblique muscles as well as the other core muscles. 30 secs of each exercise and repeat on the other side.
Exercises using resistance bands (or innertubes).
Exercise 9 – Introduction to using resistance bands. If you don’t have resistance bands use 1 or two inner tubes. Using an innertube can create quite a hard resistance which may be too much for some people. To make this easier cut the innertube in the middle.
Exercise 10 – Double arm swim position -- with a resistance band cut in the middle wrap the two ends around your hands and place the middle of the band around a door handle. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees bent and lean forwards from the hips. Reach with both hands out in front of you and turn the hands to a 45-degree angle. Pull both arms backwards keeping the hands underneath the shoulders until the hands are underneath the elbow then let the arms go back to the starting position. Move backwards or forwards to adjust the resistance. Repeat this for 1 minute.
Exercise 11 – Progression for the swim position – this time bring the arms all the way to the back by extending your arms behind you. This will work the triceps and an important part of the swim stroke. You can further develop this into each individual arm pulls or single arm pulls. If the resistance bands are too tight move further forwards until you are able to extend the arms fully to the back. Perform for 1 minute 20 secs rest and repeat a further 2 times. If you are more advanced or just want to do more perform the single arm version.
Exercise 12 – Using two innertubes which haven’t been cut. (Make sue the innertubes are the same make as different makes may offer different resistances). Loop the two innertubes around a door handle. Rowing – Hold one band in each hand and Pull both hands with the thumb on top (hammer grip) pull back until your fists are level with your body. Change hand position to bicycle grip (knuckles up) pull the hands back to the body and squeeze the back muscles as you pull back.
Exercise 13 – Tricep extensions -- using one innertube cut in half. Stand on one end with the arches of your shoes. Stand on the band will determine the strength of resistance. Tricep extensions. Holding the band in one hand extend above your head and then lower the forearm down behind your head and then extend the forearm above your head. Keep the elbow high. Perform 30 reps each arm for 3 sets.
Exercise 14 – Tricep kickbacks – Tie one innertube to a door handle with two knots. Face the door and bend the knees slightly and lean forwards keeping a nice straight back. Pull the resistance band back and bring your elbow level with your body. Then extend the lower arm upwards until the arm is straight. The higher you keep your elbow the more effective this exercise will be in working the triceps. Perform 3 sets of 15 – 30 reps.
Exercise 15 – Oblique twists – Tie one end of the innertube around a door handle with a double knot. Face sideways to the door. Bend your knees slightly keeping your body upright twist the body holding the arms still in front of your body. You will feel this in your obliques (side abdomen). 3 sets of 30 reps each side.
Exercise 16 – Lateral raise. Stand with the arches of your feet on one or two innertubes that are cut in the middle. Elbow slightly bent, pull the bands up to shoulder height to your sides. To make this harder you can pulse which is lifting to your shoulder height and then small up and downs. Perform for between 15 reps or 30 – 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Exercise 17– Frontals
Standing on the innertubes with the arches of your feet, keep your elbow slightly bent and with one arm lift in front of your body up to shoulder height. Repeat for a minute each arm and perform 3 sets. To progress to full frontals with both arms lift in front of you right up to above your head. Once again repeat this for a full minute.
Exercise 18 – Shoulder press – standing on the bands with the arches of your shoes. Knees slightly bent, keep the glutes tight and draw in the belly button. Lift your arms up to shoulder height and ensure the bands are behind your elbows. Then push your hands straight up into the air and then lower to your shoulders and repeat for 1 minute and perform 3 sets.
Indoor swim set routine
- Week 1 – Perform all exercises once or twice per week.
- Week 2 – Perform all exercises up to 3 times per week.
- Week 3 – increase the number of repetitions or sets of each exercise 3 times in the week
- Week 4 – Increase the number of repetitions or sets of each exercise up to 4 times in the week.
With the other exercises I have posted try to do the toilet roll workout, the ab workout and the posture workouts on alternate days from the swim on land sessions.