The water is a naturally super-charged gym. The density of H2O means there is more resistance every time you pull, kick and move in the pool versus the gym. These drills use water’s resistance to help build and shape your body faster than exercise on dryland.

Building muscle mass takes more than your regular swim sets. You’ll need to crank the effort up and work at high-intensity but results are easier to come by if you have a few swim tools in your kit:

Foam Kick board Swim Parachute  Ultimate Drag Suit


Pick n Mix

Hold your Foam Kickboard out in front of you at arm’s length. Engage your core while you flutter or dolphin kick. The key is to focus on flexing your foot past 90 degrees. Alternate these kicks each lap to build different muscle groups:

Flutter Kick: Legs are extended straight back, in line with your body, as you kick them up and down. This works the transverse abdominis which is the deepest ab muscle group under the obliques.

Frog Kick: Bend your knees and bring your feet together, drawing your legs up toward your body so they look like a frog’s. Now straighten your legs and then quickly bring them back up again. This works the inner thighs and glutes so is excellent for toning and shaping.

Butterfly Kick: Bring your legs together completely from your thighs to your feet. Point your toes. Use your hips to kick your legs, keeping them together, so they act like a fin pushing you through the water. This w
orks the internal abdominal oblique which is a deep ab muscle that is a posture stabilizer, the external abdominal oblique which is the muscle alongside your abs and... drum roll please, the rectus abdominis of the infamous 6-pack.

Beginners are best to start with 150 meters of kick drills and intermediate swimmers can kick off with 400 meters.



There is one easy way to take kickboard drills next level - hold the Foam Kickboard so it sticks up vertically like a tombstone. Now, ready? Set! Kick. Kick hard! The board generates extra resistance so you have to engage your hip flexors, quads and hamstrings more than you would for a standard kick set. 

To build extra strength: do the Tombstone Drill for two lengths of the pool. Now ditch the kickboard and do two lengths of sprint kicking. The resistance may have been switched off but you are now asking your legs to perform under fatigue and this is what really helps build strength and power.

Press and Pull

Stand in the shallows with the Foam Kickboard out in front of you tombstone-style with one hand on the top and one on the bottom. Start with the board close to your chest, then push it away from you and pull it back as fast as you can. The move needs to be explosive. Do this as fast as you can to fatigue and then repeat about three times. This works the pecs, shoulders, and upper back, and trains both the pushing and pulling motions in the same exercise. To make it harder, hold the kickboard deeper underwater.


Hug your Foam Kickboard to your core. Keeping your torso vertical bring your legs up parallel to the surface of the water so your body makes an “L” shape. With your back to the other end of the pool, start a flutter kick to propel yourself down the pool.

Watch out, it’s highly likely you will try to cheat by leaning back to straighten your abs and make the drill easier. Don’t - take a break, swim 50, grab your board and try again. This exercise nails all your core muscles, from your rib cage to your hips and the instability of flutter kicking naturally engages all your stabilizer muscles.


FINIS Australia Ultimate Drag Suit for adding resistance to swim training

Everything gets tougher when you swim with added resistance and thus you build muscle quicker. With regular swimming, you’re trained to take as much drag out of your stroke as possible. Muscle-building work involves adding it in, in a controlled way, using devices such as a Swim Parachute and Ultimate Drag Suit.

When buying a Swim Parachute, take note of the size of the chute. This is what determines the amount of resistance you will feel. The Swim Parachute comes in two sizes - the smaller 7” being easier than the 9” - and clips around your waist.  As you swim it unfurls behind you and "catches" water which holds you back.

Added resistance in the water is a safe way to build strength in the large muscles that move big weight as well as the small muscles that stabilize your bones. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of fitness swimming, the Swim Parachute is awesome for building strength and improving technique.

Find out for yourself with this:

3 Rounds
6 x 50’s Swim w/parachute FAST
Rest :30 and remove parachute
2 x 50’s Swim @ 200 pace (80% effort)

Another top resistance tool is the Ultimate Drag Suit. The Ultimate Drag Suit is designed with fours pockets that catch water, increasing drag dramatically. The swimmer will instantly feel the difference between their normal effort and their effort with the suit. It is great for all strokes and is best utilized explosively during training.

FINIS Australia Ultimate Drag Suit

Here's a couple of sets that put the Ultimate Drag Suit to work:

Kick Set
4 rounds (all flutter or dolphin kick)
(with Ultimate Drag Suit on rounds 1-3, without on round 4)
6 x 75 streamline kick @ moderate pace
4 x 50 fast streamline kick @ 1:00
2 x 25 underwater shooters @ :30

Swim Set (free/stroke/IM)
4 x 100 swim with Ultimate Drag Suit @ moderate pace
6 x 50 descend with the Ultimate Drag Suit 
8 x 25 fast swim (w/o Ultimate Drag Suit) @ :30


360 Kicks

This is a toughy. Basically, you need to kick the length of the pool with your hands glued to your sides. Push off from the wall face down, hands at your sides. Turn your body to face the right side of the pool. Keep a steady flutter kick going and use your hips to turn over to the look to the left wall (no arms, no hands). Do some kicks that way and turn back to the right again, and so on until you complete a lap. Switch to the other side if you lose stability on the one you’re working on and remember to keep your kicks nice and small. This is a gnarly drill but the results will speak for themselves.

These are serious drills so be careful not to overdo it and always stop if your feel serious pain. It can be a fine line knowing when to push and when to pull up.  As a guide, remember this is about pushing the body but not punishing it. Commit to using a selection of these drills three days a week for six weeks and you will see changes.

Dive in and grab your drill tools today...



April 25, 2021 — Information Finis Australia