Build your Strength for a Better Swimming Performance Wherever You Are (Push-Ups)

Training & Technique
Written by: Manuele Trezzi at 12 November '15 0
You are reading: Build your Strength for a Better Swimming Performance Wherever You Are (Push-Ups)

Do you want a “dry-land exercise” which will benefit your swimming performance without having to go to a gym? Don’t worry! Starting today I will periodically post exercises which you can do in total autonomy wherever you are.

Let’s start with the PUSH-UPS.

If you’re wondering what I am talking about, it’s probably because you just heard the term “push-ups”. In fact it is common practice to define the bending as flexion, even if these are two different movements:

when bending the arms (elbows), the hands are resting on the floor or on something higher, such as a wall-mounted pull-up bar or a bench.

during flexion, the hands don’t have any support, but encounter another type of resistance (barbell or dumbbell). The movement used in the classic exercise for biceps, barbell / dumbbell curls exercise for biceps, involves the flexion of the arms.

But, which muscles are stimulated through this exercise? Many would immediately mention the PECTORALIS MAJOR. In fact, this is a synergistic action in which are involved more muscles groups. The muscles involved are the PECTORALIS MAJOR – TRICEPS – SHOULDER, and, to maintain the correct position of the body, the CORE muscles.

Surely, the main muscle trained is PECTORALIS MAJOR.

This is not a muscle that generates thrust to help swimming, but, as its main function is to keep the arm attached to the trunk, it ensures a powerful stroke.

But caution here: having this muscle too developed (hypertrophic) has a negative action on the shoulders’ movement.

Let’s move on to push-ups’ execution.

Here’s how you do push-ups:

Lie down on the ground, belly down.

Toes pointed with your heels up and your feet close together, but not touching one another.

Now, holding your hands shoulder-width (or- literally-pectorals-width) apart push yourself up.

Using the “core” muscle, maintain the back straight, with no sag or curl.

Keep the head and neck aligned with the trunk while looking down.

If you are unable to push yourself up, you can “lighten” your body by pushing on your feet and pivoting your knees.

A good workout consists of 4/5 sets in repetitions of 10/15/20, depending on your fitness level.

If you are already doing many push-ups, I suggest you to try 5 more (challenging) ways to do this exercise.

STAGGERED PUSH-UPS (Bending your arms while staggering (switching) your hands’ position)

This requires bending the elbows while alternatively switching the body weight from one hand to the other. This exercise is more challenging for your shoulder muscles. You can vary the hands’ position between the sets or within the same set.



Push-up with your hands close together. The diamond is formed by touching your forefingers together and your thumbs together. During this exercise the triceps muscles are used the most. If it is too difficult to do it with your hands close together, try to progressively bring them closer.

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Place your feet on a platform (step, chair, or stair) and do the push-ups by paying attention to keep the body perfectly aligned with the legs. You will still be lifting your body weight, but “magically”, it will feel like you are heavier.

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Clap-clap, the noise of the clapping of your hands. That’s right, here you will need to push hard in order to be able to lift your hands off the floor and have the time to clap. The “easy” version is to clap in front of your chest. Then, you can try clapping above or behind your head, behind your back, double/triple beat. Be careful not to fall with your face on the ground!


All the weight of the body on one arm! To facilitate the execution, you will need to adopt a tripod position: spread your legs wider than shoulder-width and move the arm you use for support below the chest and the other one behind your back.

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For this training to be more beneficial for swimming, try doing 3/4 sets of push-ups, basic or varied. When you’re done, jump into the water and swim fast 15/25 meters to integrate the job done into your swimming.


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Written by:

Manuele Trezzi

A top-class swimmer who still competes, he has taken part in and reached the finals of Italian championships, as well as winning lots of regional titles. A FIN swimming instructor and trainer, FIT fitness trainer for tennis, and a graduate in the Motor Sciences from Milan State University, he has been working all these fields since the beginning of 2013.