Core and upper body workout for swimmers

This workout strengthens the muscle groups needed for endurance and performance when swimming. Adapt the workout to improve your own strength level, whether you’re a beginner or a regular swimmer.

With triathlon becoming more accessible to everyone, it’s no surprise that swimming is becoming a big part of many people’s workouts. To help improve your endurance and technique in the water, you might benefit from working with a swimming coach or checking out some how-to videos and articles. But there is also work you can do on dry land.

Core and Upper Body Workout for Swimmers

  • Time: 40 minutes (including rests, warm up and cool down)
  • Equipment: dumbells, ViPR, barbell, medicine ball
  • Muscle groups: back, arms, core
  • Complements: swimming, triathlon, general fitness
  • Improves: upper body strength, core stability
  • Include in your workout 1-2 times per week to give your muscles time to recover


  • Cross trainer or rowing machine x5 minutes

Start steady and slowly increase the level of effort. You should be warm and slightly out of breath at the end.


Perform each exercise at a steady pace, focusing on your form. Choose weights that are light enough to allow you to complete all repetitions, but that require you to put in medium to hard effort by the last set.


  • Walk on treadmill x5 minutes

Perform this at a slow pace, focusing on your form. Your aim is to bring your heart rate down.

  • Use a foam roller to stretch your lats
  • Perform static stretches for your chest, back and triceps

Finding this a challenge?
Use lighter weights, or do half the reps.

Not challenging enough? Increase the weights, or create a superset by not resting between the lateral raise and the tricep kickback.

Last updated Friday 7 December 2018

First published on Friday 27 January 2017