Yuliya Efimova basically went for a swim in her kitchen.

By Renee Cherry
April 23, 2020

Some workouts are easy to transition to an at-home session, even if you don't own a lot of equipment. Others, like swimming, can be tricky to replicate. (Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to have a pool.)

Still, some swimmers have found unique ways to keep up with their workouts while pools are closed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To give you an idea, Tokyo Olympics hopeful Amélie Kretz set up an inflatable pool in her garage, and Wagner College triathlete Yasmin Rieger relied on resistance bands and a bench to practice her freestyle stroke.

Now, Russian Olympian Yuliya Efimova is the latest swimmer to share how she's adapting to #quarantinelife as an athlete. She recently posted a video of her dryland workout that's since gone viral. (Related: The Best Dryland Workout for Swimmers)

In the video, Efimova mimics swimming strokes on her kitchen countertop of all places. With her upper body suspended off the counter and someone holding down her ankles, she goes through each stroke included in the individual medley (IM) event in the Olympics: the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Then Efimova hits the mat, where things only get more unreal: She does a move that involves standing up from bent elbows and knees, followed by what can best be described as a more controlled version of the worm.

Efimova seems to have been working on her core stability and joint mobility in these workouts, says Claire Gray, ACSM, CPT, creator of The Mamatrainer app. During the countertop portion, "she's practicing different swimming strokes in a position that we call a reverse hyperextension that demands all of the stabilizing muscles in her trunk be firing for an extended period of time," explains Gray. The isometric muscle contraction involved in Efimova's workout can help build endurance strength through the abdominal and postural muscles as well as the glutes, notes Gray. With her unconventional floor exercises, Efimova was likely trying to promote joint mobility and laxity, adds Gray. (Related: Beginner's Guide to the Different Swimming Strokes)

Before you try to ~go for a swim~ on your own kitchen counter, know that the moves in Efimova's workout require a certain skill level. The countertop exercises are best left to advanced swimmers, says Gray. "I wouldn't recommend the floor moves for anyone as the stress she is putting on her knee, ankle, and hip joints is likely to cause damage to anyone who doesn't have naturally lax joints or flexibility," she adds.

But even if you're not on that level, you can still work on the skills that are important in swimming when you're out of the pool. "Elite swimmers always have land exercises as part of their training repertoire," explains Gray. "Using gravity and weights is crucial to helping build muscular strength that is required to propel your body through water." She recommends incorporating squats, flutter kicks lying on your back, and any form of prolonged cardio. (Need more ideas? Try this pool workout that you can do on dry land.)


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