The water instinct blog

Topics: Training & Technique

Top 10 exercises to improve your breaststroke

Level: beginner

After all, a primitive form of breaststroke was the very first movement performed by a human being to move forward through the water.

This suggests it might be simple but it is not. The fact that it comes naturally does not mean that doing it the right way is by any means easy technically speaking.

It takes an incredible amount of energy to swim the breaststroke (approximately 500 kcal/h for women and 700 kcal/h for men), so it is extremely important to perfect your technique to make your swim stroke as economical as possible.

Here are some exercises, which, if performed regularly, will help you improve your breaststroke:

1. Freestyle legs: swim the breaststroke with your arms and freestyle with your legs, keeping your head at the water level.


2. Butterfly legs: swim breaststroke arms and butterfly legs pushing powerfully downwards with your upper body to keep your head well below  the water.


3. One arm only: swim the breaststroke with just one arm, extending the other out in front of your head.


4. Sculling with a pullbuoy: with a pullbuoy between your legs, extend your arms out in front of you, with your head above the water, so that your mouth is always out of the water. Make an oscillating movement with your hands like a butterfly beating its wings to propel yourself forward through the water.


5. Clenched fists: swim the breaststroke with your fists clenched.


6. Elbows close together: swim the breaststroke making sure your elbows touch at the end of the push phase.


7. Two leg kicks: swim breaststroke kicking your legs twice for every arm stroke; make your first kick, as per usual, before the end of the arm stroke and the second when your body is fully extended before beginning your arm stroke.


8. Vary your leg kick: swim the breaststroke varying your leg kick every 3 arm strokes.

  • 3 arm strokes with freestyle legs with your head at water level
  • 3 arm strokes with a butterfly leg kick with your head well under the water
  • 3 arm strokes with an ordinary leg kick


9. Head above the water: swim the breaststroke keeping your head completely above the water; perform this exercise with a fast arm stroke rate to keep your upper body well up in the water


10. Vary your breathing: swim the breaststroke breathing once as you turn your head to the right (as with the freestyle), once as you turn it to the left and once without breathing (hyper-extend your neck downwards ,so that your head does not come out of the water)

Enjoy your training everybody, may the breaststroke be with you!


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1 Comment

  • Kirsten Scott 1 YEAR AGO

    Thanks for this - a one line note on the training purpose for each of these variations would be really useful.

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