Core Exercises at home
Originally published on Swim Competitive.
Want to become a faster swimmer and improve your swimming times? Well, an effective way of achieving this is to incorporate core training on a regular basis. Core training is easily one of the most important things a swimmer can do to improve their times in the water and that’s why we will be taking a look at the best core exercises for swimmers at home.
No need for an expensive gym membership or personal trainer. These exercises can easily be done from the comfort of your home and will provide outstanding results for both your core strength and swimming performances if you stay consistent with them.
There are many reasons why core exercises are so important for swimmers, some examples include increased power in the water, improved body position, and better balance and stability while swimming.
Unfortunately, many swimmers neglect their core training.
This is a huge mistake from their side because they are placing themselves at a disadvantage compared to swimmers who train their core muscles regularly.
A strong core will also help you to have better underwaters. If you have ever watched any big swimming race, you will understand how powerful underwaters are.
So if you want to become a faster and better swimmer and continue making progress within the next couple of months and years. Then you should start to train your core regularly. The core plays a massive role in swimming, it is needed for optimal power output all the way to having great swimming technique.
Before we start let’s look at some reasons why the core is so important in swimming.
5 Reasons a strong core is important in swimming
1. Linking the upper and lower body whilst swimming.
By now we all know that in order for you to be able to move your body most effectively through the water a coordinated movement of the arms and legs is essential. One of the main components of this coordinated movement is a strong core. The core is the stabilizing centerpiece between the upper and the lower body while swimming.
2. Improved balance and stability in the water.
The core acts as a stabilizer to the pelvis and the spine. Thus having a strong core is an essential part of having better stability and balance in the water. For example, if you were to look at young swimmers, you’d notice that they’re all over the place while swimming, this is because their core muscles usually aren’t strong enough to support a stable and balanced stroke yet.
3. Improved body position whilst swimming.
Body position is easily the most important thing in swimming. You should be trying to improve your body position in all ways, and if training your core will help to improve it, then DO IT! Body position is important for reducing resistance in the water, perfecting your technique, allowing for a powerful stroke as well as a good range of motion through the water.
4. A strong core allows for more power in the water.
This one ties in with linking the upper- and lower body together. When you have a strong core, it assists you to exert more power from the legs and the arms during the pull and the kick. The main reason this happens is because the core keeps the upper- and lower body muscles engaged when you start to fatigue, allowing you to keep your body position together for longer.
5. A strong core allows for better underwater dolphin kicks.
The core plays an important role in trunk flexion. Basically meaning the up and down movement of the torso and legs known as the dolphin or underwater butterfly kick. When you have a strong core you will be able to perform a faster and more powerful underwater butterfly kick, ultimately placing you at a huge advantage in your races.
10 Best core exercises for swimmers at home
Here are the 10 best core exercises for swimmers at home:
- Abdominal planks
- Russian twists
- Ab-wheel roll out core exercise
- Flutter kicks
- Cycle sit-ups
- Hanging knee raises
- Toe touches
- Medicine ball side slams
Sit-ups is probably the most basic core exercise out there. That being said it is also one of the most effective core exercises. Sit-ups strengthen most of your core muscles and they are relatively easy to perform.
Some college swim teams dish out a 1000 reps of sit-ups before practice, this just shows that they truly are an effective and basic core exercise. Thus I recommend them to all swimmers.
Sit-ups can be performed almost anywhere, making them an easy exercise to do at home for some extra core strength.
If you had to choose only one exercise for the core, I’d say sit-ups could be a great possible choice. Try to do 50-150 reps a day for some serious core strength! Just make sure not to do it right before swimming practice or else it might affect your training.
- If you can, try to get a partner or something to hold your feet down, this will reduce momentum and make the exercise more effective.
- Try to use as little as possible momentum when doing sit-ups. Come to a dead stop at the bottom of the movement to accomplish this.
2. Abdominal Plank
The plank is another awesome core exercise for swimmers. It targets practically all of your core muscles and can easily be performed at home.
The plank has many variations you can choose from. Start with a basic plank and progress to more advanced versions of the plank once you get stronger, like stability ball planks or ab wheel rollouts. Overall this is an awesome exercise and it can develop some serious core strength.
- Try to avoid dropping your hips.
- Keep your body in a straight line.
- Keep your head and neck in a neutral position.
3. Russian Twists
The Russian twist is another great core exercise for swimmers. It works the entire set of abdominal muscles as well as the obliques. This is a great exercise for freestyle swimmers because it focuses on the rotational movement found in the freestyle arm movement.
While performing this exercise you will also need to keep your hips in a stable and coordinated movement, just like you’d do when swimming.
The exercise can easily be performed at home and it has many different variations so feel free to switch it up a bit. Overall this is a great core exercise for swimmers, not just freestylers. I definitely think all swimmers can benefit from this exercise.
- Keep your legs a few inches above the ground. Don’t just hover them slightly above the ground when performing this movement.
- You can add a medicine ball to make it harder.
4. Ab-Wheel Rollout
The ab-wheel roll out is one of the harder and more advanced exercises for your core out there, and you are definitely going to feel it the following day.
The wheel rollout is very challenging and it targets the entire core, as well as some of your upper back muscles. This is an awesome movement to improve your core strength. In my opinion, the ab-wheel rollout is hands-down one of the best core exercises for swimmers at home.
This movement can easily be performed anywhere you want, although it will take some time and practice to master for beginner swimmers. You will also need an ab-wheel roller for this exercise. Luckily they aren’t expensive and are widely available online.
All in all, this is a great core exercise for swimmers. You might even consider doing it before training for that pre-swim core activation. Just throw your roller in your swim bag and off you go to training.
- Make sure to keep the movement controlled.
- Don’t use momentum.
5. Flutter Kicks
Flutter kicks are a pretty basic, yet effective core exercise. They aren’t anywhere as challenging as the wheel rollout, but will still provide some good core activation.
They are an easy exercise to perform and you can do them at home. Some beginners, however, might find it challenging to place their hands next to their sides while performing this exercise. Try to place them underneath your bum, to make it slightly easier until you are strong enough to place them by your sides.
The flutter kick is a great burn out exercise. I like to do a set of these after my core workouts to see how many reps I can do before I completely fatigue and fall out of the bus.
- Beginners can place their hands underneath their bum to make it a bit easier.
- Try to perform the flutter kick in a slow-ish controlled movement.
- Once you are strong enough you can try placing your hands behind your head while doing this exercise to make it harder.
6. Cycle Sit-Ups
Cycle sit-ups are a great core exercise for swimmers. Similar to flutter kicks these also serve as a really nice burn out an exercise at the end of your core workouts.
The cycle sit up, isn’t anything like a sit-up, instead of focusing on an up and down crunch type movement, this exercise focuses more on a rotational type movement.
The cycle sit-up can easily be performed at home. It targets the entire core and also the oblique muscles, making it a great exercise for swimmers.
- Perform a controlled movement.
- When kicking out with the legs try to keep them a couple of inches above the ground at all times.
7. Jack Knifes
Jackknifes is an awesome core exercise for swimmers. They are more on the side of advanced core exercises and can be quite challenging for beginners. Neither the less this is a great core exercise for all swimmers and it’s definitely one of the best core exercises for swimmers at home.
I highly recommend swimmers to do this movement, if you are not strong enough try some of the other movements until you are able to introduce jack knives into your core training routine.
- Perform a controlled movement.
- When lowering your legs try to keep them an inch or two above the ground.
- Keep your core tight whilst performing.
8. Hanging Knee Raises
Hanging knee raises are another crunch type of core movement that you can perform. This is a great exercise to build some basic, yet solid core strength.
Although the hanging knee raises itself might not be the most exciting core exercise out there, it opens doors to many other awesome, advanced and effective core exercises. Like straight leg raises and the famous hanging L-sit.
For this movement, you will require a pull-up bar, but as a swimmer, you should have one anyway. I highly recommend all swimmers to invest into a proper pull-up bar, it can help you a lot.
- Avoid using momentum.
- If the hanging knee raise is to hard, start by doing them while lying down on your back.
9. Toe touches
Toe touches are similar to jackknifes. But they are more basic and are easier to perform.
This exercise is another great burn out exercise in my opinion. Just dish out 100 or 200 reps in a single set and you will feel the extreme core burn and activation.
Overall this is a great and basic core strengthening exercise.
- Perform fast and controlled movements.
- Try to keep your legs as vertical as you can while performing this exercise.
10. Medicine ball wall slams
The medicine ball side slam is a really awesome and fun core exercise. This movement is great for strengthening the obliques and core muscles. The medicine ball side throw is one of the best core exercises for swimmers at home.
You can perform the medicine ball side throw on your own or with a partner. When you perform it on your own, simply throw the medicine ball against a wall and catch it as it comes back.
Overall this is an awesome core exercise and if you are looking to bring your teammates into it, you can. Simply throw the medicine ball side to side to each other. I recommend at least a 10 to12-pound medicine ball.
- Make sure to squeeze your core whilst performing this movement.
- Focus on throwing the ball from both sides, not just one, otherwise, you could cause muscle imbalances.
I highly recommend all swimmers to select a few of these core movements and to perform them on a regular basis. Core training can have significantly positive effects on your swimming, so make sure to do it regularly.
Remember to gradually increase the intensity and resistance of these exercises to get stronger, you can do this by adding reps, sets, and weight or trying more advanced and harder versions of the exercises.