I like swimming a lot but only have access to it during the summer months when I have more time to exercise. Because of this, I get out of condition during the rest of the year and by the beginning of the next summer I always find myself gasping for breath and barely able to complete half of what I could do last year's end.

By the end of the season, I can generally build up to the point that I can swim a mile and a half every weekday. Throughout the year I have mostly been cycling and doing pullups and chinups, although, as stated, that hasn't been working too well.

What dry-land exercises can I do in under an hour to condition for swimming?

  • Good question, I'd love to built up my swimming condition again before actually going to the pool again
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 24, 2012 at 10:19
  • I suppose buying something like an endless pool and housing it indoors is out of the question? It sounds like you only have access to an outdoor pool.
    – user241
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 0:36

2 Answers 2


Some of the reading I've done on swimming addressed swimming in endless pools or with a rope tied around your waist, and suggested even that wouldn't properly train you for swimming, so I'd think some type of dry land exercise would be even less useful.

My best advice is to do compound weight lifting exercises (deadlifts, squats, overhead presses) for strength (low reps, high weight) and endurance (high reps, lower weight). My ex-girlfriend who was a competitive swimmer, and everyone on her team lifted weights, and I think it's no coincidence that most swimming pools I've been to also have weight rooms. Weight lifting is also used as training in every sport I've looked at so far, so it's a safe bet that it'll help. Stronger muscles mean less effort in every action which means you can keep doing any given activity for longer. You can very easily keep a weight training session under 30 minutes once you get a routine going (45 minutes probably for the first few times as you figure everything out), and twice a week will give you steady strength gains.


Conditioning out of the pool is important and can be very beneficial for swimmers. As an competitive swimmer myself, I believe dryland conditioning should be included in any workout for a swimmer, regardless of level of ability. As @Robin identifies, compound weight lifting exercises are great for both strength and endurance. Improving strength and/or endurance enables you to move more efficiently through the water. Swimmers do not usually practice isolated or single-joint exercises which often focus on only one major muscle group (eg bicep curls). It is much more beneificial for swimmers to incorporate functional and dynamic strengthening exercises to better mimic the actions and movements involved in swimming and to allow different muscle groups to work together, as does happen when swimming. Examples such as cleans, push-presses lat pull downs, seated row, the bench press, (weighted) tricep dips and squats are all good examples of dynamic and compound strengthening exercises that are beneficial for swimmers. Another area of conditioning that is often considered vital for a swimmers performance is the core. A weakened core can lead to the sagging of hips while swimming and the production of more water resistance since the body is not as streamlined due to the hips sagging. The focus here shouldn't be on gaining a 'six-pack' but should be more on a strong, stable and balanced core. Exercises such as the plank, sit-ups, crunches and leg lifts can help strengthen your core. Also, the compound exercises target your core as well.

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