Swimming Kickboard Exercises

To become a better swimmer, focus on form as you do your kickboard routine.

To become a better swimmer, focus on form as you do your kickboard routine.

When you want to give your legs some extra attention, using a kickboard is one killer way to go. Using a kickboard while swimming either chest-down or chest-up is one way to develop strong leg muscles by isolating the glutes, hamstrings and quads, as well as other minor muscles of the legs. Incorporate kickboard exercises into your fitness routine several times a week, making sure to take at least 24 hours off between these workouts to give your leg muscles time to recuperate.

Chest Down Exercise

Enter the water in the shallow end. Grasp the kickboard in front of your body with one hand on each side of the board, near where it begins to curve.

Extend your arms out in front of you and push off the wall with your feet. When you leave the wall, rest your chest on the bottom end of the kickboard. This might cause your arms to be slightly bent -- the trick here is to find a comfortable position in which you feel good kicking your legs.

Begin to kick your legs in a scissor motion, engaging the core muscles of your abdomen and back. Focus on pointing your toes and kicking from the hip and not the knee to engage the muscles of your thighs. Keep your head in a comfortable position above the water. As your foot reaches the bottom of your scissor kick, your ankle should "snap" downward so that your toe stays pointed.

Kick toward the deep end of the pool, and then turn around and kick back toward the shallow end. When you reach the shallow end, rest for about 30 seconds. You should be feeling a good burn in your quads and hamstrings at this point.

Kick off the side of the pool again, but this time, do the "frog" kick. Bend your knees and bring both feet toward your buttocks. Your hips should spread apart as you bring your feet up toward your buttocks. When the feet get close to the buttocks, straighten your legs and flex your feet. Then snap your legs together and point your toes as you glide. When you stop gliding, start a new frog kick.

Chest Up

Stand at the edge of the pool, facing the wall. Grasp the kickboard in front of your body, with one hand on each side of the board, near where the board starts to curve. Press the board against your chest so your hands are near your breasts.

Fall back toward the water, kicking your legs against the pool wall. If it feels more comfortable, hug the board by wrapping your arms all the way around the board. Your body should face upward as you start to move away from the wall.

Kick your legs in a scissor fashion, working to kick from the hip instead of the knees so as to engage more of your leg muscles.

Kick to the deep end of the pool, and then turn around and swim to the other side of the pool.


  • Perform each of these strokes to the deep end of the pool and then return to the shallow end. Take a 30-second break and then move on to the next motion, so that you get a variety of exercises. When you've completed one lap of each exercise, start over, doing laps until you are fatigued.
  • If you have access to a swim coach or a U.S. Masters program, ask the coach to watch your form as you do your kickboard exercises. This can help you improve your form and make you a better swimmer.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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