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by Chris Ritter

October 1, 2013

Try a mini strength session on deck to get race-ready

Warming up for your event on deck is advantageous when the pool is crowded. I’ll always take a quality movement or strength session on land over a sloppy and frustrating swim in a crowded warm-up pool.

Although theories about the best way to warm up for a race vary widely, it’s an important aspect of your event preparation plan. Adding a good warm-up is one of the simplest ways to make sure you are ready to race. Remember, the sole purpose of warming up is to prepare your body to give its highest effort and express all of the training you’ve done.

During a race, your body will be pushed to a higher level than you’ve taken it to in training. To best enable a great performance, you need to find a way to activate as much of your body—at a high level with minimal fatigue—before your event. Having already put in some work with strength training prior to the race can provide a competitive advantage here, as your body is accustomed to the movements you’ll perform now as part of your warm-up.

Why should you warm up on land? Because swimming doesn’t require your muscles to activate to their full potential, and in the water, you can’t get a high level of activation without a great deal of fatigue. On the other hand, doing something as simple as a set of pull-ups or push-ups on land can get your muscles engaged and ready for your race. You’ll have minimal fatigue but get the advantage of a high level of muscle activation

The following routine can take the place of that first 400 so many swimmers usually start with.

Pre-Race Warm-up

Start by doing each movement for 15 seconds and build up over time to 60 seconds per movement:

  • Hip Circuits
  • Scap Push-up
  • Lizards
  • Alternating Bridge
  • Y-Squat
  • Reverse Lunge with Reach

This video provides a quick demonstration of these exercises, all of which can be done right on the pool deck and without any equipment.

Some of the elite swimmers I’ve worked with have had their best performances directly after mini strength sessions similar to the warm-up protocols I’ve described here. Try it out and see what works for you—you may be pleasantly surprised.


  • Technique and Training


  • Competition
  • Warm Ups
  • Drylands
  • Meets
  • Races