Strength training for swimmers is an important piece of the puzzle. When your goal is to improve your time, stroke efficiency and overall power through the water, you need to develop upper-body strength. Perform land exercises to enhance your abilities. Wear gloves to protect the surface of your hands- chlorine in small cuts does not feel good! Perform the following exercises twice a week and aim to complete 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps:
Forearm curls increase your forearm strength to help you grab the water in front of you. Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold onto a dumbbell in each hand and rest your forearms on your thighs with your wrists directly above your knees. Face your palms up and let the backs of your hands fall toward your shins. Flex your wrist and raise the weights as high as possible while leaving your forearms in contact with your legs. Then, slowly return to the starting position.
Lateral raises enhance your shoulders, which keeps your arms in a strong position during your freestyle strokes. Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides and palms facing your legs. Raise your straight arms out to the sides until they are parallel with the floor. Slowly return to the starting position.
Lat Pull-downs improve your latissimus dorsi – the largest muscle in your back which contracts to pull you through the water. Grasp a wide bar attached to a top cable with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Sit on the bench with your arms straight. Then, bend your elbows and pull down the bar until it reaches the top of your chest. Lean back slightly to gain the proper position. Straighten your arms and slowly release to the starting position.
Dips are a strength training exercise for swimmers that focuses on improving your upper arm strength, which helps you to bend and flex your arm throughout your stroke. Sit on the side of a flat weight bench and place your hands on the bench next to your hips. Let your fingers hang off the side of the bench. Keep your knees bent for a beginning challenge, or straighten your legs for a greater challenge. Slide your hips off the bench and then bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Straighten arms to return to start.
Image source: Robert Couse-Baker