arena taiwan

The water instinct blog

Topics: Training & Technique

13 “dry-land” exercises for swimmers

We have already mentioned the importance of dryland workouts for preventing injuries, warming up for a training session and then cooling down afterwards. Today we will be looking at some useful exercises.

The shoulder is the most intricate joint in the entire body, so you must stretch and warm up properly by performing a series of rotations to really extend your shoulders. The smoother they are performed, the more effective the exercises will be.

1. Forward shoulder rotation with one arm only

2. Backward shoulder rotation with one arm only

3. Forward rotation using both arms

4. Backward rotation using both arms

5. Lateral arm raises

6. Alternating arm raises moving on arm forwards and one arm backwards

7. Lateral arm raises finishing with the movement with straight arms



If you can, perform these exercises in front of a mirror to check you are doing them properly, particularly if you are not being followed by a coach.

Now let’s move on to exercises involving the rest of the body:

8. Lean forwards with your chest making sure your legs apart and slightly bent, then slowly straighten your legs and bring them together

9. Straight-leg hamstring stretch with one leg resting on a starting block or box

10. As above with your foot flexed

9. and 10. 

11. “Roll” your back forwards and then “unroll” again until you are back in an upright position.

12. Standing with your legs apart, bend your upper body sideways first in one direction and then the other

13. Twist your upper body first in one direction and then the other, making sure you are standing with your legs apart.



Breathing is also extremely important, particularly when performing “static” exercises. Breathing out as you stretch and extend as far as possible helps you relax more and makes these exercises as effective as possible. Feeling slight pain – but nothing excruciating! – is normal.

Keep proper posture at all times when performing these exercises.

Now you have warmed up, you can enter the water…. Enjoy your training!

3 tips for improving your underwater phase

If you are wondering what the best way is to be faster in the water, the answer is to improve your underwater phase!

The underwater leg kick is considered to be the fifth swim stroke and it is also the fastest. If you watch the world’s best swimmers you will notice that they do not simply swim 15 m underwater after every turn, they also try to be as fast as possible during this phase.

We have already talked about the importance of hypoxic training (Learn how to…hold your breath) which is so vital for training your underwater phase, so in this article we will try and find out why the underwater phase is so crucial and what the best methods are for improving your speed during this phase.

Special training for the underwater phase is important because:

– it means you swim 30% less in short-course races (25 m pool). You can actually swim 30% of the race completely underwater (if you add together all the 15 m phases after pushing off the wall) corresponding to an enormous gain in terms of speed and performance (you only actually need to swim 70% of the race).

– it means you can swim faster. The phases immediately after the dive and turn are the fastest part of the race. A powerful underwater phase allows you to maintain this speed longer, gaining an invaluable amount of time in terms of seconds.

– it helps improve your leg strength. Working on the underwater phase means focusing more on your leg strength and endurance, which will transfer over into the water.

– it teaches you how important it is to reduce drag. If you train with fins you will learn what it means to reduce drag and, hence, increase your speed.

Having explained why an excellent underwater phase is so important, let’s see how to train this specific skill following these three useful tips:

1. Start by swimming 15 m underwater as fast as possible. Try sets of 8 x 15 m wearing fins with 60” rest between intervals. When you have learned how to handle 15 m underwater perfectly, increase the distance to 25 m. Make sure your speed is right and that you are not gasping for air too much.

2. Make sure you train your “core” muscles. Having a well-trained “core” will give you a more efficient butterfly leg kick in the water. Your leg kick will be stronger and your shoulders will be steadier, and this will allow you to keep your body straighter during the underwater phase

3. practice vertical leg kicks. A few minutes vertical kicking every day will help you improve your underwater phase. Vertical kicking will allow you to keep your body in the right position and also perfect your leg kick itself. This video clip shows you how to perform this drill correctly:

  • vertical butterfly legs with your forearms and hands out of the water for better control of your leg kick:


  • vertical butterfly legs in a streamlined position to improve your position in the water (simulating how you come out of dives and turns):


  • vertical butterfly legs holding a weight above your head to strengthen your “core” and legs: