5 Dryland Workouts for Swimmers Without a Pool

dryland workouts

With colder months ahead and no pool to swim in, you still need to prepare accordingly for your triathlon. How can you prepare for the swim portion without a pool? There are great dryland workouts that will prepare your body for swimming.

How Can You Swim Without Water?

Swimming without water seems quite impossible. However, propelling yourself through water simply requires strength and technique from specific muscle groups. Here are the muscles that you will need to be strengthened, for your swim portion of your triathlon training.

Quadriceps Muscle Group

Your quads make up the muscle group at the front of your thigh. In the swimming portion of the triathlon, you use them for the initial leap into the water and then to kick through the open water.

Core Muscle Group

The muscles in the middle of your body, including all of your abdominal muscles, like the obliques and abs, play a key role in stabilizing your body and holding your position at the top of the water. A strong core helps you resist drag.


Your pecs are your chest muscles. You want strong pectoral muscles to help stabilize your swimming strokes, keeping you in a proper position.


These extensor muscles sit in the back part of your upper arm. These muscles keep up your swimming speed by helping you finish your pull to your hips.


These muscles sit at the tops of your shoulders, rounding and defining them. Weak deltoids will affect speed because these muscles help you with proper hand entry into the water.

Latissimus Dorsi

Your lats make u the muscles in the middle of your back. While swimming, these muscles dominate your pull from your arms entry into the water until your triceps muscles take it over. A weak lat

Dryland Workouts for Swimmers

Here are 7 dryland exercises for swimmers that will properly train you for your triathlon.

1. Burpees

A burpee works out essentially all of the swimming muscle groups in one exercise. They also build your stamina, which will prove super important in the open water.

To do a burpee:

  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lower yourself into a squatting position and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. Jump your feet back, putting yourself into a pushup position.
  4. Do a pushup.
  5. Jump your feet back into their original position.
  6. Stand yourself upright, jump into the air, and clap your hands over your head.

Repeat this exercise in 3 sets of 15.

2. T Rotational Pushups

This spin on the traditional pushup offers you a more intense workout. It provides a better core workout, while still hitting the upper body and hip extensors.

To do a T rotational pushup:

  1. Begin with a rigid torso, in a standing pushup position with your arms and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Descend, bringing yourself chest to the floor.
  3. Start ascending using the sides of your feet.
  4. Simultaneously rotate legs, shoulders, and torso to the left as you extend your arms.
  5. When your body is fully extended, complete the rotation on the right, with left arm above the torso.
  6. Pause 3 seconds.
  7. Repeat with extension to the right.

Do each side in 3 sets of 15.

3. Reaching Lunges

This exercise works your upper legs and lower back. It will help you with changing direction and help you prevent injuries.

To do a reaching lunge:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step far forward with your right leg and shift your weight so that your heel hits the floor.
  3. Descend until your right shin is vertical and your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  4. Lightly tap your left knee to the floor.
  5. Put your weight back into your right heel to bring yourself back upright.
  6. Repeat with your left leg.

When doing these exercises, keep yourself balanced and make sure your knee does not stick out further than your toe. On each side, also do 3 sets of 15 for this exercise.

4. Lat Pulldown Behind-the-Neck

For this upper body exercise, you need some weight. However, stay light and stretch your shoulders well to reduce the risk of injury.

To do this type of Lat pulldown:

  1. Sit down at a pulldown machine and place your hands wide apart on the bar, palms facing forward.
  2. Bring your head and torso forward, so the bar can reach down to the back of your neck.
  3. Keep your torso still and move your arms down.
  4. Draw your shoulders back, pulling the bar down as you exhale.
  5. When the bar touches your neck and your shoulder blades are completely contracted, count to 2.
  6. Slowly bring your arms back up to starting position, as you inhale.

Control is key during this exercise. Trying to go fast will not work your muscles efficiently and can injure you. If you keep the weight low, you can do 3 sets of 25 for this exercise.

5. Pull-ups

If you do not have access to a pull-down machine, pull-ups will also work your back, muscle, and arms, providing great swimming dryland workout. You can even use the monkey bars at a local playground for this one.

How to do a proper pull-up:

  1. Move your arms shoulder-width apart and grasp an overhead bar with a firm, overhand grip.
  2. Hang so your arms are straight, with your knees slightly bent.
  3. Steady your core.
  4. Keep your back straight and do not swing yourself.
  5. Pull yourself up, so that your head is over the bar, leaving the bar at your chest.
  6. Hold for a 5 count.
  7. Slowly lower your body back to hanging position.

You should also do this same exercise with your hands gripped close together, to work different muscles. Shoot for about 5 sets of as many proper pull-ups as your strength will allow during each set.

Excell with These Swimming Dryland Workouts

Since swimming is all about endurance, strength, and muscle control, these dryland workouts will help you train for your triathlon without access to a pool. Rotate these exercises to make sure you work each essential muscle group for your open water swim. Train smart and visit our website for more triathlon training tips!