Swimming Strengthens Every Muscle – True or False?

So, you decided to start swimming because you wanted to look like this.

But, you ended up looking like this.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Yes, swimming does work practically every muscle in the body, but not all muscles are being developed with the same degree of intensity at the same time. Generally speaking, if strokes are executed with precision, swimmers can strengthen their upper/lower back, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, hip flexors, legs, quadriceps, pectoral and latissimus dorsi muscles and their forearms. This is achievable over all muscle conditioning (including the heart) combined in a low impact exercise. However, depending on the specific swim stroke, swimmers are working certain muscles more so than others.

Breast Stroke

This stroke concentrates on the core abs, obliques, and the hips.

Front Crawl/Freestyle and Back Stroke

This one is specifically working on the upper/lower back, glutes, triceps, core abs, delts, shoulders, and forearms.


This stoke is good at strengthening the pects and lats, legs and glutes.

Want to Develop All Your Muscles?

It is beneficial to incorporate each of the four above different strokes into your routine in order to have a more well-rounded muscle strengthening routine. Also, if you are a casual swimmer, a great deal more swim time is needed to be scheduled as well. Try swimming 300 yards per day, 3 times a week and increase that number by 100 yards every other week until reaching 1000 yards. Swimming is a resistance muscle building exercise that operates with ones own strength working against water that limits movement. In other words, muscles are being developed but not in the same way they would be with weight lifting. When we lift weights, we can increase the resistance by increasing the amount of pounds we lift, thereby, increasing our muscle strength at a quicker rate. Weight training will actually help swimmers to swim more efficiently. With more muscle, swimmers can push through the water more effectively. Muscle also burns calories quicker than fat, leaving swimmers with lean muscle tone.


A Leaner, Stronger You!

In conclusion, if you would like to have the body of an Olympic swimmer, these are a few do’s:

  • do swim regularly at least 3-4 per week
  • do an equal amount of freestyle, back, breast and butterfly stroke laps for over all conditioning
  • do start a moderate weight lifting regime (Swimfolk recommends The Beast)
  • do eat a well-balanced diet

Having the strong, muscular body you desire can be yours by making a solid plan as described above. Please note that nothing happens overnight, but if you stick to it, you will get results. As with all workout routines, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all.’ Some will have to make adjustments in order to achieve their specific goal. If you are a casual swimmer and have never done weight lifting before, start off slowly, increasing laps and weights every other week. For those who are already doing 800-1000 yards / 3-4 times a week, try doing a mixture of strokes and 2-3 of weight training per week. If you are already doing the entire list above and are still not getting your desired results, write down your routine and see if there is room for improvement.

Please leave a comment below of your muscle strengthening routine.




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