Get Set to Get Wet


During the dog days of summer, outdoor workouts that begin after 9:30 a.m. should end with water, or preferably in water.

But, it’s also fun to come inside and cross-train, and take your swimming prowess to new levels. Pure Austin Aquatics Director Mallory Cox shows us some exercises you can do in the gym to complement your swim workout. Because swimming largely involves “endurance,” these exercises can be performed with a comfortable weight, for four sets of 20 to 25 reps.

First, Cox demonstrates a standing oblique cable twist, which targets the mid-section/core and is good for both swimming and bathing suit abs. She attaches a straight rope to the machine, and holds on to the rope with an over-handed grip (palms facing down). While stand- ing perpendicular to the machine, feet about hips-width, and slightly bent knees, she twists to pull the rope across her torso, and slowly rotates back to the starting posi- tion.

The rope will remain at the abdominal level throughout the movement. This exercise builds mid-section strength that is ap- plicable to all swim strokes, espe- cially the freestyle stroke.

Next, Cox demonstrates a straight-arm, straight-bar press down. This one is great for the lats, arms/shoulders, and core. She attaches a straight bar to the cable machine and adjusts it to a level about a foot higher than her head. The exercise begins several feet from the machine, with arms straight and the bar at eye level. Using the lats and core, maintain- ing stability and not swaying, the bar is pulled straight down to the legs. This can also be done on a “cable cross” machine, with separate handles.

Cox then demonstrates another great back, core, and posterior muscle exercise, the medicine ball lift from a lunge position. Begin with the feet together and the ball right in front of the toes. Hinge from the hips to grab the ball while stepping one leg back into a lunge position. Grab the medicine ball with straight arms and raise it overhead. Bring it back the original position, and switch legs. This exercise also builds stability and balance.

Finally, Cox takes us to the cable cross machine to demonstrate a cross-punch. She sets the arms of the machine to the middle setting on each side. Then, she takes one cable in each hand, and stands facing away from the machine. To begin the exercise motion, she has the right arm straight out and the left arm at the chest. Then, she alternates, pulling the right arm in and punching the left arm out. To make this even more swim-specific, the motion can go up and out, down and back. This strengthens the arms, shoulders, lats and obliques.

Once you’ve practiced these exercises you’ll be able to test your new strength in the water. It’ll help you stay cool this summer!