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Alternate Dumbbell Swims and Dumbbell Cross Punches

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.

The back-to-front reach of a freestyle stroke followed by the lateral motion of cross punches trains the entire complex of muscles in the shoulder—deltoids and rotator muscles.

Muscles Worked

Starting Position
Stand upright with dumbbells held in each hand at your sides and your palms facing in toward you (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, sit in a modified squat position: Drop your hips slightly back, putting your weight in your heels and inclining your chest a bit forward. Your back should be flat and your shoulders no further forward than your knees. Let your arms hang down from the shoulder, with your palms facing down (see Photo 2).
  2. Keeping your back flat and your torso still, begin doing alternating freestyle swim strokes. 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. As your right 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. Do a total of 24 freestyle strokes (12 with each arm) (see Photos 3 to 6).
  3. Next, move on to cross-punches. Staying in the modified squat, bend your elbows tight to your upper body and hold your hands near your chest, with your palms facing each other. Punch across your body with one arm as you pivot through your legs and drop slightly through the knee on the same side as the punching arm. Try to reach long with your punch, and support yourself through your core and legs. Return to center and repeat the punch with the other arm, again pivoting through your legs to follow your arm. Continue to alternate punches for a full set of 24 (12 with each arm) (see Photos 7 to 10).
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.