Dryland exercises are an easy way to warm up your swim-specific muscles before getting into the water. If you are prone to injury or starting a workout in the cold early morning, these seven exercises are an essential routine to take to the pool deck. Improving your flexibility and range of motion will directly impact your swimming technique by increasing your reach and power.
How to Warm Up Before a Swim
Use a yoga mat or towel and perform each exercise for 20-60 seconds.
Plank Thigh Taps
How: Start in plank position on your hands and toes. With one hand at a time, quickly tap your thigh and then return it to plank position; quickly alternate hands.
Modifications: Drop to your knees to make this exercise easier.
Purpose: Gently increases your heart rate with quick movements and strengthens your upper body and torso muscles.
How: Lie on your back with arms extended in a “t” position; swing one leg across your body for a spinal twist; aim your foot towards your opposite hand; return leg to center and repeat on the other side.
Modifications: Allow your swinging leg to bend to make this exercise easier.
Purpose: Increases lower back and torso mobility while activating the core.
How: Lie face down in streamline position with arms and legs resting on the ground; lift arms and legs a few inches off the ground in one continuous motion; lower to the ground and repeat.
Modifications: Pause in the lifted position for two seconds to make the exercise harder.
Purpose: Strengthens your posterior (back) chain of muscles and lengthens your anterior (front) muscles.
How: Lie on your back in streamline position; slowly lower your elbows to your sides while keeping your arms in contact with the ground (making a “W” shape); then slowly return your arms to the starting position.
Modifications: If lying flat is difficult, bend your knees to help your lower back stay connected with the ground. You can add an extra challenge by positioning your spine on a foam roller.
Purpose: Stretching the chest, shoulders, and rotator cuff.
Cross-Body Arm Swings
How: Stand upright with your arms relaxed; gently swing your arms together and cross them in front of your chest; and then swing them in reverse to reach behind you; repeat.
Modifications: Keep your arms bent during the swing to put less stress on the shoulder socket.
Purpose: Improving shoulder range of motion.
How: Stand in a slight lunge position; jump up and switch leg positions in the air; start the next jump as soon as you land. Swing both arms in a bicep curl motion to help lift your body.
Modifications: For an additional challenge, see how high you can get off the ground with each explosive jump. To make it easier, substitute this exercise with walking front lunges.
Purpose: Strengthening legs for kicking and pushing off the wall in the pool.
How: Stand facing a wall; extend arms overhead and place hands shoulder width apart on the wall; look down and lower chest while slightly bending at the waist; relax into the stretch.
Purpose: Stretching lats and pecs.