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Single-Leg Single-Cable Swim Strokes

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

You may have done swim strokes before with the cable machine, but this version asks that you do them on one leg. The added balance challenge pushes this back exercise to a harder level. You'll have to focus on staying upright even as you challenge your balance by pulling on the cable.

Muscles Worked
Back (lats and traps)

Starting Position
Attach a single cable at the high setting on a cable machine. Take the handle in one hand and stand facing the machine. Your arm with the cable will extend diagonally in front of you, such that you have a straight line from your shoulder to the cable's point of attachment. Hold the handle with your palm facing down. Bend both knees slightly and lift the foot on the same side as the arm holding the cable off the floor (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, pull the cable down beside you in a freestyle "swim stroke" motion. Keep your arm in a straight line—do not swing it wide, rather keep it beside you—and keep your hand in the same orientation throughout. Keep your foot off the floor as you do this (see Photo 2).
  2. At the maximum point of extension, your arm will be directly at your side or slightly behind you, with your palm now facing backward (see Photo 3). From this position, return in a controlled fashion through the same arc to end at the starting position (see Photo 4).
  3. After you have done 12 strokes on one side, switch the cable to the other hand and hold the other foot up off the floor for another 12.
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.