• You need Flash player 8+ and JavaScript enabled to view this video.

Dumbbell Single Leg Freestyle 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.

To build strong swimmer shoulders without getting wet, do standing swim strokes—replacing the water with the weight of a pair of dumbbells. For maximum benefit, try to move your arms as though pushing through the resistance of water. In this advanced version of the exercise, you'll stand on one leg as you do the swim strokes to train your balance and coordination.

Muscles Worked
Shoulders (middle and front deltoids)

Starting Position
Holding dumbbells in both hands, balance on one leg with your knee bent slightly. It is very hard to balance on one leg while doing these swim strokes; if you absolutely cannot do it, stand on both legs with your feet about hip-width apart. To aid your balance in the one-legged stand, squeeze your butt cheek and stabilize the hip of the leg you are standing on. Incline your shoulders forward, keeping your back flat, until you are forty-five degrees from vertical. Extend your arms straight in front of you, with palms facing down. Your neck and head should continue a straight line with your back; do not crane or curl your neck (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, bring your right arm back as if you are doing a stroke of freestyle swimming. Your arm will naturally bend as you bring your elbow back. Be careful to keep the dumbbell in close to your body; allowing it to drop out too far can cause injury (see Photo 2).
  2. As your right arm reaches the back end of its stroke, begin dropping your left arm to start its own stroke, while simultaneously lifting the right elbow up in an arc over the shoulder and pushing the right dumbbell back out to starting position. Your right arm should reach starting position just as your left arm reaches the back position (see Photo 3).
  3. Do half of each set on one leg, and then switch and finish the rest of the set on the other leg.
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.