Dry-Land Swim Workout

Core workouts for the homebound swimmer/triathlete, from acclaimed triathlon coach Dermott Hayes 

In light of the current COVID-19 situation and the impending nature of a period without swimming in pools, it is crucial for swimmers and triathletes to keep swim strong by incorporating some Dry Land training into their daily/weekly routines. If we can keep active and maintain activity levels this helps to retain muscle memory and keep at least a base level of fitness, so that when we return to swimming it’s not a complete shock to the body. 


Team Passionfit warming up prior to a dry-land workout

Preferably athletes should be challenging themselves to complete 3-4 mini workouts each week, with each workout taking 20-25mins. This will be a huge reduction in overall training time for frequent exercisers but it will mean we stay in the game. Where possible at this time it could be an opportunity for swimmers to maintain their cardiovascular fitness with indoor cycling or running, swimmers are by their very nature tied to the pool so much that it could be a welcome change of cardio activity. Any athletes that aren’t frequent runners and cyclists should begin with low distance targets that can be built upon. In terms of how hard to work I would suggest using the Rate of Perceived Effort (RPE) scale and aiming for steady workouts of 5-8 out of a maximum 10.  

Camilla Lykke taking her core workout outside

Dry Land training is something that can be done at home. Many swimmers already do strength & conditioning as part of their plans but for those new to it you must start very light and build gradually. The fatigue effect felt on a muscular level can be quite surprising if you are new to the world of S&C. Below are 2 x 20min workouts that can get you started. Always begin any S&C workout with 3-5mins of dynamic cardio based exercise to get ready, including some loose arm swings to mimic swim strokes. 

Kyle Buckingham does weekly core workouts. 

Workout #1 

Exercise 

Equipment 

Sets 

Reps 

Rest Time 

Notes 

Squats 

 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Feet shoulder width apart. Hands in front of chest 

Press Ups – Wide Grip 

 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Hands wider than shoulder width apart 

Butterfly Pull  

Resistance Band 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Mimic underwater phase of Butterfly stroke 

Plank 

 

3 

30-40secs 

20secs between sets 

Balance on toes and forearms 

Lunge Jumps 

 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Alternate lead leg as you perform jumping lunge. Keep arms in front of chest for balance. 

Tricep Kickbacks 

Resistance Band 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Double arm kickbacks. Extend to full reach 

Bicep Curls 

Resistance Band 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Stand on middle on band and perform curl up to shoulders 

Shoulder Tap Plank 

 

3 

30-40secs 

20secs between sets 

Straight arm plank and tap shoulder with opposite hand one arm at a time 

  

 Martine Hoass putting the work in

Workout #2 

Exercise 

Equipment 

Sets 

Reps 

Rest Time 

Notes 

Wall Sit 

 

3 

30-40secs 

20secs between sets 

Feet shoulder width apart. Spine firm against a wall. 

Incline Press Ups 

Block / Stairs 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Place hands on a raised level  

Freestyle Pull  

Resistance Band (handles preferable) 

3 

16-20 

20secs between sets 

One arm at a time perform underwater phase of Freestyle stroke 

V-Sits 

 

3 

12-15 

20secs between sets 

Try to perform with hands by your side 

Burpees 

 

3 

8-10 

20secs between sets 

Complete full leg kick out then into a jump  

Woodchops 

Resistance Band (attached to fixed point) 

3 

8-10 each side 

20secs between sets 

Engage core hip strength to begin rotation before extending arms in a fully extended position. 

Squats & Shoulder Press 

Kettlebell/Bags of Sugar 

3 

16-20 

20secs between sets 

Perform Squat first then lead into a full Shoulder Press above the head 

Side Plank & Rotation 

 

3 

20-30secs each side 

20secs between sets 

Can be done on forearm or straight arm. Rotate non supporting hand under the body and open out into a fully extended position. 

 

About the Coach 

Dermott Hayes has been helping athletes for over 15 years through all types of endurance sports and has been a regular contributor to 220Triathlon since 2015. If anyone knows the importance of effective dry-land training, it’s this guy! 

Head Coach @ Be Endurance Open Water Swimming 

Race Director @ Storm The Lakes 

beendurance.com/portfolio/coaching/