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Knee exercises help you improve strength and flexibility for swimming.
The breaststroke is one of the oldest and most traditional strokes in swimming. During this stroke, your body remains level at the surface of the water and you move your legs and feet together to propel yourself forward in the water. Because your knees are used heavily during this action, it's important to include knee exercises in your regular workout as a breaststroke swimmer.
Get to Know Your Knee Muscles
Multiple muscles work together to allow for the flexion and extension of the knee. Namely, that includes the hamstring muscle group, which consists of the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris muscles, as well as the quadricep muscles -- rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius. The gastrocnemius muscle in the calves and the hip flexor muscles also play a role.
Leg Lifts are Tops
Leg lifts target the quadriceps, helping improve strength and coordination in your knees. Lie face-up on the floor, arms extended straight out at your sides, with your legs raised until they're nearly perpendicular to the floor. Engage your core, and keep your upper body rigid during the movement. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lower your legs until the heels of your feet nearly touch the floor. Raise your legs back up to complete one rep. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Curl Those Hamstrings
The hamstrings support the knees and in turn work the knee flexor muscles. Include hamstring curls as part of your workout to strengthen these muscles. A stability ball can add resistance and maximize the benefits of this exercise. Lie straight out, flat on your back with your arms straight out beside you, the heels of your feet resting on a stability ball. In a slow, controlled motion, raise your hips toward the ceiling, creating a straight line from head to toe. Lower back down and continue for three sets of 15 reps.
Do the Bodyweight Squat
To work the hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings, which will help strengthen your knees, the bodyweight squat is one of the most effective exercises. Start in a standing position, your feet about hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Squat without arching your back, lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor or just past. Keep your knees aligned with your toes during the movement. Push up off your heels to return to a starting position. Repeat for a total of three sets of 12 reps.
Grab Some Cables for Leg Curls
Leg curls target nearly all of the muscles in your lower body, making this an ideal exercise for building strength and power in your knees. Attach a foot harness to a low pulley, secured onto your right foot. Stand straight with a close stance, holding onto the support bar for added stability. Slowly flex your right leg at the knee, bending your lower leg up behind you until it's almost on a right angle. Lower it back down and complete a total of 20 reps, then repeat on your opposite leg.