Swimming is such an all-encompassing sport in regard to muscle usage. Good form relies heavily on a stable core which is why ab work is a necessity for swimmers who wish to swim at a competitive level.
Here are 4 of my favorite abdominal exercises which are a great way to add some strength to your core and allow your body to move more steadily though the water, improving form which will increase speed. That is, if you are consistent with working your abs!
- Jackknife Reverse Crunch with Swiss Exercise Ball (This exercise will also strengthen the hip flexors)
Place yourself in a push up position with your feet on the ball. Draw your legs in slowly in a controlled movement, making sure you concentrate on keeping your spine (no arching), head and neck aligned. Slowly return to the start position again focusing on spine alignment and control.
- Swiss Ball Leg Raises
With Swiss Ball between ankles and arms outstretched to the sides, raise ball with legs to a 90 degree angle keeping legs straight. Lower the legs in a slow and controlled motion focusing on the abs. If this is too difficult, start out with no ball and legs slightly bent. Keep your spine flat against the floor and don’t allow your feet to touch the mat at the bottom of the movement.
- Russian Oblique Twist (with or without medicine ball or dumbbell)
With ball in hands and arms outstretched slightly and angled slightly less than 90 degrees toward feet, do a partial sit-up. While holding yourself up with your abs, arms still outstretched, take the arms (holding medicine ball) and twist the arms and waist until the ball almost touches the floor. Arms should stay straight the whole time and entire movement should be controlled. Back should stay aligned (no slouching or arching). If this is too tough, do the exercise without the ball.
- Pendulum or Double Leg Circles
If this is the first time you have attempted this exercise, start with your legs together and straight at a 90 degree angle with the floor. Slowly, and with control, drop legs down and around and back to the original upright position. Alternate between clockwise and counter clockwise. The higher the circle the easier so if you are having trouble, don’t allow your legs to circle as low. You can also bend your legs and make the circles that way. Keep your core stable and contracted. Make sure your legs are the only thing moving. Do not wiggle at the waist.