Stretch Cord Exercises For Swimmers – Improve On Dryland


woman doing stretch cord resistance band exercises by the pool

Stretch cords or resistance bands are fantastic tools to allow you to work on your swimming strength while on dry land.

Sometimes it’s difficult to work on specific areas of your body in the pool, especially if it is busy in the lanes.

When I am in the pool, I want to focus on swimming and doing long-distance, yet I know in order to get better and improve, I need to work on specific swim muscle groups. At the end of the day, greater strength will increase swim speed.

You can use stretch cords to build swimming strength while on dry land. Stretch cords are adaptable so you can target specific muscle groups for particular swim strokes. In addition, stretch cords can work your legs and improve ankle flexibility, which will increase your swim speeds. 

Stretch cords had a fantastic boost in popularity during the pandemic when public pools were closed and swimmers needed to maintain their swimming strength.

Stretch cords have been around long before 2020, however, with professional swimmers using them regularly as part of their workout.

In this article I am going to cover:

  • What are stretch cords?
  • Stretch cords versus resistance bands: what is the difference?
  • Are stretch cords with paddles better for swimmers?
  • Stretch cords exercises for swimmers
  • Stretch cord exercises for ankle flexibility

What Are Stretch Cords?

A stretch cord, also known as a resistance cord or bungee cord, is a piece of fitness equipment made from elasticated tubing, typically with handles or paddles on each end.

Stretch cords can be tied to a fixed feature, which gives you great freedom of movement to pull and work with the stretch cords to workout.

Unlike typical weight lifting, stretch cords allow you to work muscles at specific angles, which is why they are particularly popular with swimmers, as you can work your swim stroke muscles.

Stretch cords come in different sizes and strengths so you can find a set that is best suited to your strength level.

Stretch Cords Versus Resistance Bands: What Is The Difference?

You may have noticed lots of varieties of resistance bands and stretch cords on the market.

Sometimes it can be very confusing, as the names of the products get used interchangeably.

Below is an image of what I would call a “Stretch Cord” and they are typically rubber tubbing.

The following is what I would call a “Resistance Band” and they can come in single long strips of latex material or sometimes you can buy them as one loop.

In a nutshell, both of these products do the same thing, which is to offer resistance to your body to build strength.

The main difference is that the stretch cords typically come with cords or paddles attached.

I feel this makes working out with stretch cords much easier if you are planning on using them to improve your swim stroke strength as you have a secure handle to grab onto.

The resistance bands have the advantage of moulding to your body for certain exercises and I particularly like them to improve my ankle flexibility, which is a key factor in swimming fast.

Both products have their functions, but for targeting larger muscle groups such as your shoulder muscles for the butterfly or front crawl stroke, the stretch cords offer a better workout experience, in my opinion.

Are Stretch Cords With Paddles Better For Swimmers?

As stretch cords allow swimmers to target specific muscle groups to strengthen swim strokes, stretch cords are also available on the market with a paddle attached.

Instead of a generic foam handle, these stretch cords have a hard plastic paddle, just like the ones you may use in the pool.

If you are targeting your swim stroke specifically, then getting stretch cords with paddles is a great option.

The advantage of having paddles attached to your stretch cords is that it will help you work on your hand and elbow position, and as a result, reinforce the correct arm position for swimming.

Hopefully, when you next get in the pool, the muscle memory you will have developed from all the repetitions will help improve your stroke and allow you to replicate these hand positions in the pool.

In addition, with flat paddles, you can experiment with your hands and feel the difference that a relaxed hand can have.

Stretch Cords Exercises For Swimmers

I have searched high and low for good stretch cord exercises for swimmers and the following are some of the best tutorials and instructional videos I can find.

What I feel some of these videos skip, however, are some good generic warmup exercises and some safety tips.

Stretch cords are strong elasticated lengths of tubing that must be fixed to a stationary body.

With time, your cords will wear and could eventually snap.

Always take care to ensure your stretch cords are fully secured and are in good condition to sustain a safe workout.

10 Minute Dryland Exercises For Swimmers

I think the following video from Dave Scott really shows how to target your stretch cord exercises for swimming.

You will notice that Dave is using paddles attached to his stretch cords. When he demonstrates a gentle pull stroke, just like you would do in a butterfly stroke, you will notice that he has excellent hand and elbow positioning.

If you are eager to get going with your new stretch cords, this is a great video to follow.

In addition, the following 10 Minute Upper Body Workout from Dave further adds information to give a fuller picture.

These exercises are very effective at building strength in your stoke.

Full-Body Workout – Stretch Band Exercises For Swimmers

In the following video, a great demonstration of how to use stretch cords to work your legs and kicking muscles for the pool is shown.

This is a fantastic example of how stretch cords can work your core, ankles and improve your kicking strength to get you in excellent condition for your next swim.

Stretch Cord Exercises For Ankle Flexibility

Having flexible ankles is a key requirement to being able to swim fast.

Personally, I have really rigid ankles after years of running and playing soccer. As a result, my kicking power in the pool is pretty terrible.

One of the ways to unlock the kicking power of your legs is to increase ankle flexibility.

You can work on your ankle flexibility in the pool by using swim fins, but after a while, this can get sore as you are stretching your ankle ligaments.

I have covered the pros and cons of swimming with fins in my article, “Is Swimming With Fins Cheating?”

Outside of the pool, you can use resistance bands or stretch cords to improve your ankle flexibility.

When targeting ligament groups with such precision, it is important to follow expert advice.

The following is a great video showing how to increase stability using resistance bands.

In addition, I have found the following instructional video very good for helping me with my ankle mobility, which is one of my biggest problems and puts me at a big disadvantage in the pool.

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Final Thoughts

I am a big fan of stretch cords as they allow me to work on my swimming strength outside of the pool.

If you are not a big fan of lifting weights but are eager to build swimming strength, then stretch cords can allow you to work on your stroke outside of the pool.

The fact that stretch cords allow a swimmer to target certain areas of a stroke and move in a way that traditional weight machines do not allow is a big advantage for swimmers.

In addition, stretch cords are such a lightweight tool, they are easy to throw in your gym bag and use to warm up with before a long swim.

Resistance bands also have a place in a swimmer’s gym bag. Although I prefer stretch cords with paddles to improve my elbow positioning and muscle memory, resistance bands are more comfortable to work with when improving ankle flexibility.

Whatever you choose, stretch cords are certainly worth considering as part of your swimming workout routine.

Happy swimming!

Louise Byrne

Hi, I am Louise and I am obsessed with swimming. I spend my free time in the water or getting ready for my next water adventure.

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