You count on your arms and legs when swimming. You aren't going to swim very far or very fast if your arms and legs are weak. If you want to be a stronger and faster swimmer, you need to incorporate some dry land exercises in your routine. Arm and leg workouts, with or without exercise equipment, can help you swim better. You'll also reduce your risk of muscle strains or joint sprains by strengthening your entire body.
Warm-Up and Stretches
Take the time to warm-up and stretch your muscles before you start squatting or doing push-ups. Warm-up exercises increase your heart rate for better blood flow to your muscles. Cold, stiff muscles and joints are susceptible to injury. Stretch the muscles you plan to work after your warm-up. Warming up and stretching will also help increase your range of motion. Start slowly by walking or jumping rope. Once you start to sweat and your heart rate is slightly elevated, you're ready to start your workout.
You can choose arm exercises that not only work your biceps and triceps, but also work your shoulder muscles. The lats and the shoulder adductors help pull your body through the water. Perform pull-ups by holding the bar in an overhand grasp so that your palms face the floor. To focus your efforts on your biceps, hold the bar in an underhand grasp. Dumbbell curls and rows focus your strength training efforts on your biceps and triceps muscles. Start with 12 repetitions for each exercise, and then gradually increase to 15 repetitions. Once you can easily do 15 repetitions, increase the weight and/or add sets so your body doesn’t adapt to your routine.
Hip extension and flexion exercises mimic the kicking motion of swimming to strengthen your butt and hamstrings on the backs of your thighs. You can do hip extensions by using a cable machine at the gym or by using resistance bands at home. Pull the cable or resistance band back with your leg when doing extensions. Pull forward when doing flexion exercises. Squats work your butt, the quadriceps on the fronts of your thighs and your calf muscles. Your abs and lower back will get a pretty good workout, too. Start out doing eight to 10 repetitions.
You have to take care not to injure yourself, especially if you swim every day. Overuse injuries occur when your muscles become tired or you aren't using correct stroke form. Tendinitis and torn muscles are common injuries that occur because of overuse. Vary your strokes and strengthen your arms and legs to prevent overuse injuries from swimming. Also, vary your resistance workouts to strengthen all of the muscles in your arms and legs. Dumbbell curls will strengthen your biceps, but they don't do much for your shoulders. Don't train the same muscle group on consecutive days to help prevent overuse injuries.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.