Indoor Workout

What do you do when your pool is closed or you can’t book a lap lane reservation at your health club? Try a dry land workout.

A dry land workout focuses on strengthening the muscle groups you most use in freestyle swimming. Some dry land exercises mimic the movement of swimming. Others are about building strength and endurance, which improves your overall fitness.

These are some helpful at-home, no-pool-required exercises for swimmers.

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Dry Land Core Exercises for Swimmers

Having a strong core is what keeps you stabilized in the water. The more stabilized you are, the more efficient your stroke will be.

Flutter kicks

Start by lying on your back.

  • Tighten your abs by pushing your spine into the floor. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders so you’re staring at your toes.
  • Lift your legs off the ground and begin to flutter kick your feet. Keep your kicks small and low to the ground.
  • To make the flutter kicks less difficult, tuck your hands under your bum (this will support your low back). For a more advanced version, reach your arms out in front of you.
  • Count by threes as you kick (1, 2, 3 . . . 1, 2, 3). This helps reinforce the movement in the water of taking a stroke every three kicks.
  • Start with smaller increments (15 seconds, 30 seconds) and build to 1 minute of kicking with 30 seconds of rest.


Start by lying face down in a superman position (picture how Superman flies through the air). Your arms are in front and your legs are straight and slightly apart.

  • Engage the muscles in your back and lift all limbs 2 to 6 inches off the ground. In other words, your shoulders/arms come up in front of you at the same time as your feet come up behind you.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Wobbly planks

Start by getting into a high plank position, with your hands and feet both a bit wider than hip-width apart.

  • Lift your right arm in front of you as you lift your left leg behind you. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds and release.
  • Repeat on the other side (left arm and right leg). It’s okay to wobble! Do 5 sets on each side.
  • You can also modify by doing this exercise on your knees.

Want other ideas for core exercises? SwimSwam magazine posted daily dry land workouts during COVID-19 quarantine. For example, this core workout combines multiple core exercises, like the ones above, into circuits.

Dry Land Cardio for Swimmers

Swimming is a cardiovascular exercise. The stronger your cardiovascular fitness is, the better swimmer you’ll be.

Naturally, exercises like running, biking, walking, and rowing can all help build your cardiac endurance. If you don’t have home exercise equipment or don’t want to leave the house, you can easily build a quick cardio circuit.

This circuit looks deceptively simple. But by the time you get to the last squat jump, your heart will be pounding! (You can modify the times based on how easy or difficult this is for you.)

  • 1 minute jog in place
  • 1 minute jumping jacks
  • 1 minute skipping in place
  • 30 seconds rest
  • Repeat 2 more times, with 30 seconds rest between each round
  • 10 burpees (this quick video shows beginner through advanced options for burpees)
  • 10 squat jumps (this video shows you how to do them correctly)
  • 1 minute rest
  • Repeat 2 more times, with 1 minute of rest between each round

The pool may be your preference, but dry land exercises are a good alternative when you can’t get your laps in.

For information about preventing common swimming injuries, please visit our website. To schedule an appointment with UPMC Sports Medicine, call us at 1-855-937-7678.

John Hansen. Try These At Home Dry Land Swim Exercises. USA Triathlon. Link.

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