Dynamic Warm-Up for Swimmers

SSP-Coach-Eric-McGinnisBy: Eric McGinnis, CSCSDirector of SSP Swim
Rollins College Strength & Conditioning Coach
Sports Performance Specialist
Spectrum Sports Performance

We all understand the importance of warming up, but as swimmers we often neglect preparing our bodies for movement BEFORE we get into the water. There are two common issues I tend to see with regards to warming up on land. They are:

1. A land warm-up comprised of almost entirely static stretching
2. No land warm-up whatsoever

At SSP we prefer a dynamic warm-up to prepare our athletes for practice or competition. If you struggle with how to appropriately warm-up before getting in the water, this article will serve as a simple and effective guide to maximizing your performance.

What is Dynamic Stretching?
To put it simply, dynamic stretching is mobilizing the body with movement. This is contrary to static stretching, which consists of holding an isolated stretch in position for an extended length of time. Although static stretching such as holding a toe touch for one minute can be an effective way to lengthen the hamstrings, it doesn’t get the body ready for what it needs to do, which is MOVE! Static stretching relaxes the muscle and can have temporary unwanted side effects such as decreased power output, making it less than ideal prior to practice or a meet. So what should you do instead? This dynamic stretching routine will take your body through full range of motion using various simple and effective movements that can be executed right on the pool deck.

The Stretches
The exercises for this program are split up into a full body, lower body, and upper body component. Within the lower body section there are 4 sub-categories describing which side of the hip they target: Anterior, Posterior, Medial, Lateral.

Full Body

  • Spiderman with rotation
  • Lower BodyAnterior

  • Walking Quad Stretch
  • Lunge and Reach
  • Posterior

  • Inverted Hamstring
  • Inch Worm
  • Medial

  • Lateral Lunge
  • Sumo Squat
  • Lateral

  • Leg Cradle
  • Drop-Step Lunge
  • Upper Body

  • Trunk Rotations
  • Arm Circles- Forward/Backward
  • Arm Swings- Across/Diagonal
  • Internal/External Rotations
  • The Program
    This warm-up routine can be done everyday with the amount of variation being completely up to you. Simply pick one exercise per category for the lower body, plus all of the upper and full body exercises. All stretches will be performed for just one set. Below is a sample of what the warm-up could look like with a recommended repetition range for each exercise.

    Sample Day 1
    • Spiderman with rotation x 3-5 each side
    • Walking Quad Stretch x 3-5 each side
    • Inverted Hamstring x 3-5 each side
    • Lateral Lunge x 3-5 each side
    • Leg Cradle x 3-5 each side
    • Trunk Rotations x 5-10 each side
    • Arm Circles- Forward/Backward x 5-10 each

    • Arm Swings- Across/Diagonal x 5-10 each
    • Internal/External Rotations x 5-10

    Sample Day 2
    • Spiderman with rotation x 3-5 each side
    • Lunge and Reach x 3-5 each side
    • Inch Worm x 3-5 each side
    • Sumo Squat x 3-5 each side
    • Drop-Step Lunge x 3-5 each side
    • Trunk Rotations x 5-10 each side
    • Arm Circles- Forward/Backward x 5-10 each
    • Arm Swings- Across/Diagonal x 5-10 each
    • Internal/External Rotations x 5-10

    DYNAMIC WARM-UP DESCRIPTIONSSpiderman with Rotationyg6YsmZ9LhNa8YtChA_1r_mebTzKScVPdnHD7Ie268c9mUhjsWX9FzfvQOXK2g4QJPlkF7FswmHdrMG4GA1Thgkgxjg-9U2r1L2I3-_w2AMsPeBN8MwGwWaucWh8Lq_84

    Begin in push-up position. Bring your left foot out in front so that it is directly outside of your left hand. Your left foot should be flat on the ground with toes pointing straight ahead. Also make sure to keep your back (right) leg completely straight. From here, try to drop your left elbow down toward the floor on the inside of your left ankle. Next, rotate toward your left knee, reaching your left hand up toward the sky and letting your eyes follow. After the rotation, place your left hand back down on the ground and then switch sides.

    Walking Quad StretchdiFsyQN2CSZYnDb02DvXcoRE4DfZQ1Q90iHrg11SdyY

    In a standing position, kick your foot toward your butt and grab your ankle with your right hand. Reach your left hand up and extend up on to your left toes while pulling your right knee back behind you. Repeat on the left side.

    Lunge and ReachFjgggTVVvl9gRqTaFS1_g-NffXeLai4fc0rFwaI2T6s

    Begin standing and then step your right leg out into a forward lunge. Simultaneously lower your back (left) knee almost to the ground while reaching both arms up and slightly back. Finish by pushing up to the front (right) foot and then switching legs.

    Inverted HamstringfcLBTTqfh-b7Y05C2SwaSV0k0vTIHBlhGm5_FbdMcbI

    Start by standing on your right leg only with a slight knee bend. Bring your arms out to your side with palms facing up. Puff your chest our and pinch your shoulder blades to ensure good posture. Hinge over, keeping the left leg straight as it comes up high off the ground. There should be a straight line from head to left heel. Lower down until your body is almost parallel to the ground, or until you can’t go any lower without breaking the straight line created from head to heel. Return to the start position and then switch legs.

    Inch Wormyg6YsmZ9LhNa8YtChA_1r_mebTzKScVPdnHD7Ie268coc9b4AtZFDspPhUXt6AYb83FRo1RMJvM7Bs2U02EtCQ

    Hinge at the hips and reach your hands down to the floor. Walk your hands out into a push-up position. From here, walk your feet as close as you can get them to your hands without bending your legs. Once your feet are as close as you can get them, walk your hands back out again. Continue this movement going forward until you’ve completed all repetitions.

    *note- you can add some extra upper body warm-up to this by having the athletes perform one or more push-ups each time they get out into push-up position.Lateral Lunged9x-PY3xXiibE4sMg7DT3LY68ENZi6pCpjgnRAOLlW4

    Start standing with feet together. Lunge laterally to the right side with your arm extended out in front. Push your hips back as the right knee bends so that your knee doesn’t come forward over your toes. The left leg should be completely straight and both feet should be flat on the ground with toes pointed straight ahead. Push off of your right leg back to the start position and then switch sides.

    Sumo Squatfac6ChIL3VSnFiahhLx1vQw78FlKA6llh5m_ShJ9zzwNuI5oPt-Bt9hF0wVkUBtPkvtyVuN5j32OuIBoRvs6ic

    Bring your right knee up to your chest. Keeping the knee high, act like you are stepping back over a high hurdle by rotating toward your right. Place your right foot down on the ground into a wide squat position. Both of your feet will be flared outward in this stance. Squat as low as possible with both feet flat on the ground and arms extended out in front. After the squat, bring your right foot back to the start position by stepping high over the imaginary hurdle again. Repeat with the left side.

    Leg CradleDnJRkmzHLFzkHlGoGgm9Z8YjyxU6AgwZRf0PW802hqM

    Squat down slightly while simultaneously bringing your right leg off the ground high enough so that you can grab your shin. Grab your right leg so that your hands are holding on just above your ankle and just below your knee. Once you’ve secured this grip, stand up tall on your left leg, pulling the right shin up toward your chest with good posture. Release your right leg and then repeat with the left.

    Drop-Step Lunge7Wgh6BE-V-DkEYiC_64LIC1Yfj7f1N-ApPMftQAU6Ok

    Start standing with arms extended out in front of your shoulders. Next, you will take your right foot and reach it back behind you and to the left side, crossing over the midline of your body. Squat down, dropping the back knee down toward the floor. You should have enough room for the back (right) leg to bend without hitting your front leg. After you squat down, in one motion stand up and bring your right foot back to the start position. Switch to the left leg and repeat.

    Trunk RotationsjzUw0RFs0E7wHrgIUwCapxq-YNOk8g0qI1Kt6PBcPfEgZYUBMtwo0IulMUYvzQbyyxSAF4YZ0PQe9ZBuwg8qeA

    Spread your feet about shoulder width apart. Bring your arms out to the side but keep them bent as if you are about to throw a hook. Rotate your entire torso (arms included) to the right side and simultaneously pivot your right foot inward so that it moves with the rest of your body. Allow the momentum to give you a good rotational stretch through the torso and then immediately switch sides. This stretch should be done fluidly with some acceleration going to each side.

    Arm Circles- Forward/Backwardw3jXEhdN-JPCaBW-YXlXSyTprk6tIrk10C9VvrnmN00LvJi8hW-weSFGN8JnGS9bUN5fHwKax8fbrhwgJD7hUw

    Bring your arms out to the side at shoulder height with palms facing downward. Perform big arm circles moving forward for the desired number of repetitions. For the backward arm circles, perform with palms facing upward toward the ceiling.

    Arm Swings- Across/DiagonalT5waFP_SnklCSxr-hM6_abAtedtVMILKaFjCxL1RBVYHt9iw5VzqEvPf_tSmdz3yAofELQDIGZ_789e-F4zxEc

    For the arm swings across, swing your arms from the midline of your body straight to the outside at shoulder height. As you swing them across, turn your palms to the ceiling. Immediately swing them back toward the midline while simultaneously turning your palms back down and allowing your arms to cross each other over the midline.
    Diagonal arm swings are performed the same way except you will swing your arms at a 45 degree angle so that one arm is high above the shoulder while the opposite arm swings down low. Make sure you perform diagonal arm swings on both sides.

    Internal/External RotationsfrlOJzaEtvRtndq7STCwILxF8AVnv5uIBw7bPW-Q6TceC2JPqZQ0KxDIw8Nyl32nzeBkh4hv992905PI-s5FDc

    Hinge your hips into a good flat back position (neutral spine). Your torso should be close to parallel to the floor. From here, bring your elbows up to shoulder height with fingertips pointing downward so that your arms are at a 90 degree angle. Keeping your elbows in place, rotate your arms up so that your arms are now pointed in-line with the same angle as your torso. Then rotate the arms back down so that the fingertips are once again pointing toward the floor. Perform these repetitions fluidly with a quick change of direction from one position to the other.
    Remember that the elbows never change position.

    This dynamic warm-up template can be followed for both pool workouts as well as strength training activities. Some of the stretches outlined in this article were demonstrated while moving forward, while others were stationary. Keep in mind that all of them can be adjusted to be either/or depending on what works best for you and the space you have available. Utilize these tools in a way that most appropriately works for you or your athletes.

    1. Great information for swimming lovers! #Swimming #Stretching

    2. I am going to share this article with my swimming program. Great!

    3. Great stuff

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