Strength training can make a massive difference to your swimming performance. Focusing on movements and lifts related to your sport is essential, just as you would with any strength program for a specific sport. This means that you shouldn’t go to your computer and search for “strength training” on Google, then print any workout. While the 20-stone Lithuanian man in your gym may be able to deadlift the equivalent of a Ford Ka, it’s possible that his training could be more suitable for a 200m freestyle swimmer. Don’t ask him for advice, especially if your CNS is handy.

Concentrating on exercises that target specific movements you use to propel yourself through the water would be best. This will ensure optimal results in the pool. You must ensure that you don’t compromise flexibility or overtrain your muscles to increase muscle growth. This will negatively impact your power-to-weight ratio and your swimming performance.

The goal is to gain strength without bulking up.

These are the four best compound exercises for strength and swimming performance in your land training program.


To maintain a high pace in the pool (inertia), you must have a strong, tight, and even six-beat leg kick. This requires muscular core strength and strong legs. It takes work to do. Strength training on the ground can be highly effective, especially for squatting. Squatting, an extremely effective compound movement, targets various leg muscles (hamstrings and quads), glutes, calves, and your core, lower back, and core. Do squats with a lighter weight, but only for part of the range of motion. This will provide far greater benefits than doing ‘half squats. This will give you an extra kick (pun intended), as you push against the wall for that final length sprint!


This is a great exercise to improve pectoral strength, which is important for breaststroke and other strokes. You can also use the bench press to strengthen your triceps and wrist muscles (important for ‘grabbing’ water efficiently). Shoulder stabilisation is also required, which will aid in butterfly and front crawl mechanics.


Wide grip pull-ups are great for strengthening your back, especially the lat (latissimus Dorsi), which is vital for swimmers. Pull ups are a great exercise for core stability, which is an essential part of good swimming technique. You can also target your back muscles with bent over rows and lat pulldowns.


The plank, also known as the “dreadful plank”, is a great way to build core strength. It will also improve stroke efficiency, prevent the rear from dropping, and eliminate sideways movement. Keep your head straight from the hips to the ground when performing the plank. Also, don’t let the tension build up in your lower back. Begin by holding the plank for 45-60 secs. As you become stronger, increase this time.


These four compound exercises can be incorporated into your land training program to increase strength and speed in specific swimming movements. These exercises can also be done regularly to reduce the chance of injury. These exercises are great if you need more time to do other things like swimming, sleeping, and eating pasta.

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