Article image

by Bo Hickey

May 6, 2020

Work on your range of motion and strength to maximize your propulsion

Breaststroke is the most fascinating stroke to work on in drylands because of its complexity. Swimming breaststroke requires an interesting blend of power, position, and patience. A rushed stroke results in a swimming-in-place feeling, and a delayed stroke results in missing out on momentum during a race.

Breaststroke also causes some headaches—rather, knee aches—from an injury perspective. Not only do you need a proper range of motion, you need strength throughout that range of motion.

Range of Motion

Breaststroke places a heavy focus on your ability to move effectively. If you struggle with tension throughout the mechanics of the stroke, you’re missing out on valuable propulsion and practically working against yourself.

You’ll need to constantly improve and maintain range of motion in your hips and ankles to keep pressure off of your knees. When your hips and ankles are unable to complete the necessary ranges of motion, knee pain will creep in.

Don’t forget your shoulders. As with every stroke, proper shoulder range of motion helps with the dispersion of force you’ll need to manage with your upper body.

Start by completing three sets of the following exercises, taking minimal rest between exercises and sets. 


The kick is critical to propulsion in breaststroke. An effective kick has the right blend of power per kick and allows you to maintain power output throughout a race.

The lateral lunge jump variation will aid in your ability to produce power. In this exercise, you’ll have to overcome a lack of momentum, similar to what you experience during phases of the stroke.

The pullout, which uses the upper body, is an important piece of any breaststroke race. You’ve probably seen a race where a swimmer seems to make up time underwater due to an excellent pullout.

In a great pullout, you cover a large distance with your arms with the least amount of resistance working against you. This is why your coach harps on body position so much. The muscle-up + TRX will help you work on your pulling power on land.

Complete three sets of the following exercises, taking minimal rest between exercises and resting two minutes between sets.


Building strength is a critical step to maintaining proper form as fatigue sets in, and strength helps prevent injuries.

One of the most frustrating injuries you can experience with breaststroke is a groin pull. Groin pulls can be prevented with increased strength in the adductor complex, which is the muscle group that assists in any movement that requires you to drive your legs back together or hold your legs close together.

Also, being able to pivot around your elbow during your breaststroke pull is important. Use a light band as you start with the high elbow pull and get a feel for the movement. Then you can increase the band resistance as long as you aren’t shrugging your shoulders toward your ears.

Complete three sets of the following exercises, taking minimal rest between exercises and two minutes of rest between sets.


  • Technique and Training


  • Breaststroke
  • Drylands