Gym Exercises for Swimmers

A swimmer in the pool celebrating | Featured image for the Gym Exercises for Swimmers blog from Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy.

Gym Exercises for Swimmers

Exercise is essential for swimmers to optimise performance, prevent injuries, refine technique, maintain physical and mental health, and enjoy the long-term benefits of an active lifestyle. Incorporating resistance training is key to achieving success in swimming and overall well-being. Here is a list of gym exercises for swimmers that should be incorporated into a swimmer’s gym routine.

Our List of Gym Exercises for Swimmers


Upper Body Strength

Swimmers with a strong upper body are better able to maintain their stroke for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued. This is especially important when swimming long distances. These are some excellent exercises to improve upper body strength:

  • Lat Pull down
  • Seated Rows
  • Bent over Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Face Pulls
  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell bench press


Shoulder Strength

The shoulder plays a significant role in all swimming strokes, and strong shoulders help swimmers with power for propulsion for greater speed. Here are some gym exercises for swimmers to increase shoulder strength:

  • Barbell overhead press
  • Cable/ banded External rotation
  • Cable Lateral raises
  • Front raises
  • Prone dumbbell YTW’s
  • Dumbbell Shrugs


Core Strength and Stability

A strong core helps swimmers maintain an optimal body position while in the water. Any core strength and stability exercises will improve a swimmer’s technique, power and overall speed. Here are a few we recommend:

  • Planks
  • Russian Twist
  • Superman
  • Medicine ball throw
  • Bird dog


Lower Body Strength

Strong leg muscles are important for efficient and powerful kicking while swimming, which aids in speed and endurance. Here are some of our favourite gym exercises for swimmers to improve lower body strength:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • RDL
  • Split squats
  • Calf raises
  • Hamstring Curls
  • Barbell Hip thrust


Mix it Up for Peak Performance

Aim to incorporate a good mixture of upper and lower body exercises with adequate volume and intensity to stimulate muscle growth. The training volume should range between 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions at moderate to high intensity. Allow appropriate rest in between sets and training days to optimise recovery. The training volume and intensity will vary depending on the off-season, pre-season or in-season of swimming.


Contact Us to Learn More

Pivotal Motion are a leading physiotherapist Brisbane and beyond. No matter if you are a professional swimmer, a serious amateur or someone who just likes to swim laps for fun, we can help you get the most out of your time at the pool. Contact us today to learn more about our services by calling 07 3352 5116, or you can book a physiotherapy appointment online.

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