Ian Thorpe’s Gym Workout For Swimmers

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The coach

Ian Thorpe is Australia’s most successful competitive swimmer, with five Olympic gold medals and 10 from the Commonwealth Games.

The goal

“Now more than ever, the guys and girls you see excelling in the pool are those who put a lot of work in at the gym,” says Thorpe. “The exercises I’ve chosen for this workout are moves I used to do in training, and they genuinely made a massive difference to my performance in the pool. They strengthen key muscles used in swimming, as well as increasing your range of motion for smoother, more efficient strokes.”

The moves

Gym ball roll-out

Gym ball

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  • Kneel with your elbows and forearms on the ball and your trunk and torso 45˚ to the floor.
  • Slowly lean forward into the plank position, rolling the ball forward and bracing your core. Hold for five seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.

Bird dog


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  • Start on all fours with your knees and palms on the ground.
  • Lift one arm and the opposite leg and stretch them away from your body to form a straight line from your hand to your toes. Hold for 30 seconds.

Leg lift

Leg lift

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  • Lie on a bench on your stomach with your legs extended behind you.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can while keeping it as straight as possible.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.

One-arm medicine ball throw

One-arm medicine ball

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  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor holding a medicine ball in one hand with your arm stretched behind you.
  • Throw the ball over your opposite knee.
  • Generate the power from your shoulder and try  not to lift your head or pull up with the core.

Mountain climber

Exercises Mountain climber

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  • Place your hands on the floor just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • One leg should be straight out behind you and the other should be tucked so your knee is directly beneath your pecs.
  • Jump the straight leg forward and the bent leg back so their positions are reversed.
Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.