Stretch cords -- flexible 10-foot hollow tube bands with handles -- are the kin to popular exercise bands. Unlike the popular exercise bands, though, stretch cords are bound together in the middle resembling a figure eight. These handy cords are ideal for keeping your upper body toned for swimming. Whether it's during the offseason or between laps, stretch cord exercises can help improve your time in the pool while building upper-body strength.
Breaststroke Arm Pull
Using your stretch cord, securely loop it around a swimming pool ladder, railing or other sturdy surface to simulate the breaststroke. Despite its name, this move can be done on land or in shallow water. Once secure, grab a hold of each ending tightly and move backward until you feel tension in the cord. Bend over, hunch your back forward, while pulling your arms back in a mock breaststroke. Keep your elbows high, but don't pull them too far back. Keep your elbows parallel with your shoulders. Do these until your triceps, biceps and forearms feel fatigued.
For toned arms, in and out of the water, work your triceps with triceps push-downs. While standing, keep the stretch cord looped around a sturdy object and grip its ends. Make sure you have moved far enough back so you have adequate tension in the cord to work your triceps. Begin by straightening your back and placing your elbows at your side. Lock your elbows by pulling the stretch cord handles down. You'll want to squeeze your biceps. Hold this contraction for a few seconds before raising your forearms until your hands meet your shoulders. Release your forearms and repeat the cycle until your triceps are fatigued.
Tighten your biceps with stretch cord assisted bicep curls. Take a stretch cord and place it beneath your feet. Center the cord between your feet using the tied area as a guide, and grip the loose ends. Straighten your back and turn your palms outward, facing up. Tuck your arms close to your body as you pull the cord up. Remember to keep your wrists straight. Twisting your wrist or arm can cause injury. Lower your arms and repeat until fatigue sets in.
Chest flyes with your stretch cord will work your pecs, delts and triceps. Taking time to build your chest muscles will pay off with added speed in the water. With your cord still attached to a sturdy object, grab on to each end and spread your feet and arms out. Face your palms outward and pull the ends of the cord in toward each other. As you do this, rotate your palms down. Once together, take your arms out to the starting position and repeat the movement. Remember to keep a slight bend in your elbows to avoid injury in the joint. Keep doing chest fly reps until you feel fatigue in your chest muscles.
- The Science of Swimming, Part 4; James E. Counsilman
- Totally Toned Arms: Get Michelle Obama Arms in 21 Days; Rylan Duggan
- Fitness Magazine: Sheryl Crow's Arms and Shoulders Workout
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.