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A Dry Land Swim Workout For When The Pool Is Frozen

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes |

Truth be told, when the weather is cold outside, swim workouts fall off my wagon of priorities.

Actually, if I was to be completely honest, although my swim workouts should be my top priority, they seem to fall by the wayside more often than not- it’s just that I’d rather run or bike for my triathlon workouts. It’s one of those things that I think I can just keep putting off because it seems like I have plenty of time and opportunity later on.

Plus, it was 2 degrees here in Nashville when I woke up this morning and the thought of getting wet made me cringe. Also, the pool is frozen.

The thing is, I’m not a strong swimmer and I know I need to be better about making my swim workouts a priority. (Note to self: don’t procrastinate on training your weaknesses, rather work hard now to bring them up to speed. You never have as much time as you may think.).

So, even though I haven’t been spending as much time as I should at the pool, I have been doing this swim workout.

Dry land swim exercises are not going to completely replace a swim workout, however, they do compliment your swimming techniques and overall performance extremely well.

(And if you’re in the habit of skipping swim sessions, then these are definitely better that nothing!)

I’ve designed this triathlon-specific dry land swim workout to target at least one of the Five Phases of the free style stroke: Entry, Catch, Pull, Push, Recovery. But my dry land swim exercises are not necessarily in that order…

 Quick note: You’ll need a resistance band attached to an anchor to follow along with this dry land swim workout for triathletes.



Dry land exercises for swimming

Start by wrapping your resistance band around an anchor. You’ll do 25 reps of each exercise and for an added bonus, do each exercise alternating arms for an extra 5-10 reps… you’ll feel the burn!

Keep the tempo of your reps high, and don’t rest between each swim exercise – there’s no resting during the swim! Plus, that way you’ll get a little cardio burn going on.  Let’s “swim”!

Pull downs

These help build your main swimming muscles, your lats and upper back. (Pull Phase)

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - Pull Downs -

Grab your band and step back a bit to build some tension (come on now, challenge yourself!). Bend your knees and lean forward so that your body angle is close to parallel with the band. Keeping you elbows high and outside, pull down to really flex your shoulder blades with a squeeze.


Pull Throughs

This exercise will improve your power and endurance in your swim stroke. (Catch & Pull Phase)

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - Pull Throughs -

In that same leaning-forward position as the pull downs, just imagine the pull phase of your swim stroke – keep a high elbow, arm stays bent at about a 90, and imagine moving through the water by using your big, powerful chest and back muscles.



Rows also help strengthen your lats and back. (Pull Phase)

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - Rows -

Take a wide stance with bent knees and lean back against the band. Put your focus on pulling with your back muscles, and not your biceps, to drive your elbows back and squeeze your shoulders blades together. For extra credit add a squat with reach row!


Shoulder Press

Strengthen your shoulders with this move to improve your high elbow pull and speed up your arm turnover. (Entry & Recovery Phase)

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - Shoulder Press - TwoTri.comDepending on the tension of your band, you can step on it or thread it under your shins. For this one, keep your elbows back and palms facing forward. Since the band is not serious resistance, you can really focus on reaching as high as you can and that will help give you more reach in the water.

High Pull Row

This move improves your shoulder flexibility and rapid recovery. (Recovery Phase)

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - High Pull Row -

Here’s a great dry land swim exercise that you can also use for improving posture. This time while you row, you’ll be keeping your elbows high and flared out. This creates the connection between the recovery phase and starting your stoke over again.


Shoulder Press Backs

This exercises hones in on your rear deltoid, triceps and even your abs! (Push Phase).

Dry Land Swim Workout For Triathletes - Shoulder Press Backs -

Stand tall with good posture, and grab the handles with straight arms shoulder width apart. Flex your abs and glutes to stabilize your core, then push your arms back just like you’re pushing water back behind you. Keep your thumbs close to your thighs and your elbows straight. When you have a strong push, you’ll be able to propel yourself forward with more power and that means you’ll be swimming faster!

Triathletes can use this swim workout on dry land a couple times each week to start building power and endurance throughout their entire swim stroke.

Remember that proper swim techniques require shoulder flexibility, so do these stretches before and after swim workouts. Flexibility also allows for more range of motion. More range of motion provides more propulsion per stroke.

Posted by Trainer +Davey Anderson 

About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →

  1. Amanda Huber
    Amanda Huber01-12-2014

    Thank you for this fantastic website. Its so helpful. I am training for my first tri and I think this website is my best resource. I love the videos. They are so helpful. But is there anyway you can attach a printable workout sheet to go along with the videos. I usually have to do a makeshift sheet, and draw little stick figures of each move so I know I am doing the right thing.
    Thanks for all the help.

    • Jess Anderson
      Jess Anderson01-12-2014

      Thanks for you kind words, Amanda! We’re SO GLAD that you our site is helping you train for your first tri! What race are you doing? We’ll be cheering you on from Nashville! And yes, we’d be glad to create a printable sheet for the workouts…we’ll try to have them made sometime next week. We appreciate your feedback! Happy training!

      • Amanda Huber
        Amanda Huber01-12-2014

        I’ll be at the Blue Lake Triathlon in Portland Or. on June 7th. Then the Wahine Women’s Tri in Portland Or. on Aug 3rd. I’m pretty excited! Thanks for your help and support!

        • Jess Anderson
          Jess Anderson01-14-2014

          Awesome! We’ll be cheering you on! Let us know if you need anything!