8 Swimming Workouts for Building Abs

a swimmer swimming laps

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There’s nothing like a dip in the pool of hot summer days. Both refreshing and exciting to explore, swimming almost feels like exploring anti-gravity on another planet. The weightlessness makes it easier for us to move in ways that are much harder on land. It is perfect to target different muscles in our swimming workout for abs. 

Swimming and ab routines go hand in hand because every movement requires core strength. Certain movements specifically target the abs, obliques and core as you twist through the water. 

Check out these moves to add some fun in the sun to your new routine. 

1. Butterfly Strokes

The butterfly stroke is probably familiar to most swimmers or anyone who’s caught Olympic races on television. This movement targets the entire body as arms and shoulders lift out of the water and the lower half moves you forward. In the center is your core, balancing the body’s movement and propelling you forward. 

To complete a butterfly stroke: 

  1. Lengthen your arms above your head and stretch your palms outward. 
  2. Extend straight arms in a semi-circle back toward your body with palms backward.
  3. Complete the circular motion by lifting arms past hips and back to above the head.
  4. Throughout, flutter legs in a fluid motion.

Swim laps for 15 minutes or until your body is fatigued. 

2. Flutter Kicks

Flutter kicks are a stationary exercise that allows your core to balance. Try this exercise for 2 minutes with 1-minute rest in between. Complete 3 sets in total. 

  1. Go to the deep end of the pool and grip the edges with your hand. 
  2. Your legs should be floating out behind you. 
  3. Scissor kick one leg over the other to buoy the body upward. 

3. Dolphin Kicks

A dolphin kick feels like a form of play while also strengthening your core. With your arms clasped out in front of you, undulate your body like a fish. Kick your legs to shoot forward as well. At first, it may feel awkward (after all, we aren’t fish), but the chest-down, hips-up repetition targets both upper, middle and lower abs.

Try laps of the dolphin kick for 3-minute rounds. 

4. Caterpillars

Go to where you can stand in the pool and find a balanced stance with hands on your hips. Slowly, lean to your left side and back to the center. Repeat on the right side. Like a caterpillar, the core wiggles from side to side.

Continue this movement 10 times to burn the obliques. You can also try this move on try land if you want to adopt a stretching movement into your routine. 

5. Jackknives

Some gym aficionados may recognize this movement from ab workouts on the mat. For a swimming workout for abs, begin by standing chest-deep in the pool. Lean backward until you feel a strain in your core. Slowly, lift your legs straight off the floor and up. Your butt should sink downward as you enter a “V” position. 

Don’t be afraid to rest in that position. Incredibly, slow movements teach ab muscles how to expand and contract better. Rest and repeat 15 times.

6. High Knees

Many people are familiar with high knees on the track or a morning run, but did you know you can increase intensity in a swimming pool? The added resistance of the water strengthens those muscles more quickly and eases the pressure on joints. 

Better yet, this is great for days when the public pool is a bit crowded as you never have to leave the same spot. Run in place while lifting knees up to hip-height. Remember to keep your core engaged and tight as you lift. 

7. Crunches

Crunches are known as one of the top abdominal exercises. In the pool, begin by floating on your back near the edge. Next, lift your legs onto the pavement or deck so that your core and head are still floating. Place your hands behind your head and lift your core out of the water. Complete 30 crunches for a full set. 

8. Water Jogging

Water workouts are great for low-impact routines or those who are recovering from an injury. In the water, there is less pressure on joints and feet as you run. 

Begin with the water at neck level and run with a modified stance. Keep back straight and hands balled into fists. Run for 5 minutes at your own pace and then rest. Complete 3 rounds for a full routine. 

Take a Dive into Swimming Workouts

A swimming workout for building abs can add some flair and fun to your next lifestyle. Most movements on the mat or the treadmill can also be completed in the pool, so why not try them out? With some sunshine and cooling water, your workout has never been this fun. 

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