Survival Fitness Plan Blog/Swimming/7 Dryland Breathing Exercises for Swimmers

7 Dryland Breathing Exercises for Swimmers

Discover 7 breathing exercises to expand your lung capacity

Having trouble breathing while swimming can be fatal for any swimmer, so in this article, you will learn a variety of dryland breathing exercises. These breathing exercises for swimming will expand your lung capacity. 

Dryland Breathing Exercises for Swimmers Video

Here’s an abridged version of this post in video format for those of you that prefer to watch than read. The complete article continues below the video.

Benefits of Dryland Breathing Exercises

You don’t need to train underwater to extend your breath holding capability. Dryland swimming breathing drills offer the same results as well as other benefits. 

Increased Lung Capacity 

Have you ever wondered how David Blaine pulled off a World Record for breath-holding of 17 minutes and 4 seconds? 

Although not known to many, you can actually increase your lung capacity through good breathing exercises such as lung-packing, box breathing, and abdominal hollowing. Through consistent drilling you will be able to increase the time you can hold your breath.

Better Focus

Each person has their own stress tolerance limit, and the human body will always try to find a way for it to avoid that stress. This is also the reason why you are fearful of things you’re not used to. 

Dryland breathing exercises helps increase the stress threshold of your brain because they force the brain to get used to being uncomfortable. The result is that, under pressure, it will be easier for you to focus compared to before. 

More Energy for the Body

Oxygen plays a very important role for the conversion of nutrients into energy in a process known as cellular respiration. Basically, the cells use oxygen to break down sugar and other nutrients into useable energy for the body. 

Breathing deeply allows you to maximize oxygen intake, which means more energy for the body. This goes the same for proper breathing during swimming. You will use less energy if you have a larger lung capacity. 

Dryland Breathing Exercises

If you are searching for ways on how to increase lung capacity for swimming, then these dryland lung breathing exercises are for you. 

1. Puckered Lip Breathing Exercise

This breathing exercise is simple to do, but it is an effective exercise to help increase the efficiency of oxygen distribution in the body. 

  • ​Pucker your lips in such a way that it looks like you are going to kiss someone.
  • ​ Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
  • ​ You are doing the right thing if you can feel the resistance coming from your lips as you exhale. 
  • ​ The time that you exhale is twice as long as the time it takes for you to inhale.

2. Lung Capacity Development Exercise

We focus this breathing drill on expanding the lung capacity to increase the effectiveness in the water. 

  • ​Stand straight while maintaining a good posture. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • ​ Exhale normally and when you reach that point, pinch your nose and close your mouth to hold your breath. 
  • ​ Count to 5 while holding your breath. 
  • ​ Release your nose and open your mouth after 5 seconds and exhale normally for another 5 seconds. 
  • ​ If you still feel you have more air to exhale, hold your breath again for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. Do this until you have no air to exhale.

3. Wall Sit with Deep Breathing

Swimming breathing drills such as the wall sit not only increase your lung capacity but also engages the leg muscles and is a great quad workout. This exercise helps to prevent shallow-chest breathing. It trains your body to take deep, long breaths. 

  • ​Position yourself in a wall sit position, that is, in a squat position with your back against the wall. This will force your body to use your diaphragm and abdominal muscles while breathing.
  • ​ Raise your arms in such a way that it is reaching forward. 
  • ​ Do slow long breaths by inhaling deeply and exhaling as much air as possible.

4. Abdominal Hollowing

This dryland breathing exercise can help train your  breathing patterns, techniques, and improve core stabilizers in the body. Because it strengthens core muscles and improves spine stability, exhaling will be much easier.

  • ​To start, you can either stand straight or lay on your back on a flat surface. 
  • ​ Try to contract and pull the abdominal muscles without moving your spine.
  • ​ Contract it in such a way that you can visualize your belly being sucked into the spine.
  • ​ Hold this position for 5 seconds and slowly inhale.

5. Box Breathing

This breathing technique originated from the Navy SEALs and is commonly used to put the body in a calm state. This is also a common breathing exercise for swimmers just before a competition. 

  • Inhale deeply for 4 seconds. 
  • ​ Hold the air in your lungs for 4 seconds. 
  • ​ Exhale deeply for 4 seconds. 
  • ​ Empty your lungs for 4 seconds.
  • ​ Do this for as many repetitions as you want.

6. Breathing Fartleks

Breathing fartleks is an effective breathing exercise for people who are having a hard time slowly exhaling. It helps establish flexibility so the lungs can perform different paces of breathing. 

  • Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 seconds.
  • ​ Exhale slowly and deeply for 5 seconds. 
  • ​ Do steps 1 and 2 a few times. 
  • ​ Change the pacing of the breathing by inhaling for 3 seconds then exhaling for 3 seconds.
  • ​ Repeat step 4 a few times. 
  • ​ Finish with one forceful inhale and exhale. immediately

7. Lung Packing

Lung-packing is one of the oldest breathing exercises for swimmers used by natives when hunting to increase their lung capacity. It helps increase your resting lung capacity so you can dive deeper and last longer underwater

  • Take three comfortable breaths to adjust your breathing to a normal pace. 
  • ​ Inhale deeply using your stomach until it feels full. 
  • ​ Close the glottis (the opening found in your vocal cords) and pinch your nose. 
  • ​ While holding your breath, open your mouth and make sure no air escapes.
  • ​ Vacuum the air using your tongue and cheeks. As soon as you open your mouth, it will get filled with air. 
  • ​ Push the air down your throat.
  • ​ Do steps three to five a few times until you feel like your lungs are fully packed.
  • ​ Hold your breath as long as you comfortably can. Do not force your body to hold the air in.
  • ​ Exhale once you feel you need to breathe.
  • ​ Do this exercise three to five times a day. ​


Dryland breathing exercises for swimmers are just as crucial as proper breathing in swimming. These are the best breathing techniques and drills that you can start doing to increase your lung capacity. Doing these drills is not only great for competitive swimmers but in preparation for survival situations as well. 

Did you find this article about dryland breathing exercises useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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