08 February 2022



Sometimes people can be sceptical of weight training because they fear injury or they’re not quite sure what weights to use or where to start. However, particularly for swimmers, weight training can help to enhance your overall strength, reduce swimming injuries (due to strengthening muscles and increasing muscle mass, which will allow your body to endure more resistance) and will help to increase core strength as well as explosive power whilst in the pool.

Below we have listed five weight training exercises that can be done in a gym environment to aid your swimming performance. These exercises can be done with or without added weight to focus on your strength.


Legs are heavily relied on as a swimmer, both in the pool and open water, so ensuring you are actively engaging the quads, glutes and hamstrings where possible are important. Squatting regularly improves swimming techniques by giving the legs more power, as well as explosiveness which helps to increase the power and speed on turns.

Both squats and jump squats are effective and can be done with or without weights. For jump squats, you can add a round plate and hold this out in front of you as you jump. For back squats and front squats, using just a 20kg barbell or adding weight (ensure it is a comfortable enough weight to do the movement correctly) will help to keep your form.

If you are looking to improve the core, front squats are ideal within this range of exercises.


Executed correctly, deadlifts are a great way to build power and strength for starts and turns, as well as aiding balance and stability for when you are in the water.

This exercise can be quite complex and would not be recommended for an individual who has not been coached in this movement as it can result in injury if carried out incorrectly.

Deadlifts can be done lightly, with just a 20kg bar or you can add weight to increase resistance. There are a number of different ways you can incorporate the deadlift into your strength routine and it is definitely an exercise worth doing if you know how to do it.


Pull-ups, although look simple, can be quite a tricky exercise. But, the great thing about this exercise is you can do it with or without a machine and with or without weights, depending on your ability.

For beginners, using the assisted pull-up machine at the gym is a great way to start as you can change the amount of weight to aid you in your exercise. For those who can do pull-ups freely without any assistance, adding weight can add more resistance and enhance your performance.

Pull-ups target many of the same muscles that swimmers rely on to move their bodies through the water, so if doable is an essential exercise for swimmers!


The sled/prowler provides a full-body workout that targets the chest, shoulders, triceps, core, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, quads and glutes.

Heavy pushes and drags are perfect for improving unilateral lower body strength. It also allows you to practice acceleration mechanics at slower speeds!

Sled/Prowler workouts are also great for the upper body. You can do hand-over-hand rope pulls to help build strength in the upper back, biceps, forearms and core!


A lot of the power utilised in swimming comes from the lower end of the body, so this is the hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back etc. By incorporating glute bridges into your exercise routine it can help to strengthen your glutes and core muscles as well as stability.

Similarly to squats, glute bridges can be done with or without the addition of weights.

Adding weights changes the name to a ‘barbell hip thruster’ and is where you perform the exercise with your shoulders on a bench and a barbell across the front of the hips. Again this can be a lower kg bar or with added weight depending on comfortability and experience with this kind of exercise.

There are, of course, a number of other weight training exercises you can do to assist your performance in the water, but it is important not to be fearful of weights and to utilise them where you can!

What other weight training exercises would you recommend for the avid swimmer? We’d love to know!

We’re going to keep going with our weight training in prep for swimming in the beautiful waters of Greece this summer, so why not come and join us? You can find all the information you need on our website.

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