Nowadays, it has become easy to find gyms for weightlifting, yoga centres and training centres in our localities. So many people started to go to all these places to become physically fit and make a better body shape by building muscle. But apart from these, if you are wondering, is there any other way to build muscle? The answer would be yes. Does swimming build muscle? Yes.
Swimming is the better alternative for getting yourself fit. Swimming does build muscle. It’s a full-body exercise that works practically all of the body’s muscle groups rather than only concentrating on one. And it is not age-specific either. From kids to adults, anyone can swim.
And we are not restricted to one place to swim, one can swim in beaches, swimming pools, lakes, rivers and anywhere where there’s sufficient water present giving us a larger scope than any other workout.
If you are thinking, “Does swimming build muscle?”. Take the example of a professional swimmer, he’s never thin. He usually has lower body fat and strong muscles and is well-built at the same time. The physique of a swimmer can be considered as the ideal physique.
So, in this article, we are going to discover how one can develop muscle by swimming and how this can be a better alternative to other workouts. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to answer the question, “Does swimming build muscle?“.
1. How Does Swimming Help in Building Muscle and Upper Body?
Generally, muscle mass is built when resistance is applied to either a single muscle group or, in the case of swimming, multiple muscle units simultaneously. When a muscle is sufficiently stressed, very small tears in the muscle fibres occur which are considered Microtears. When this happens, we can experience pain and wariness the next day or, in some cases, just a few hours after a solid workout.
It takes 24 to 48 hours for a muscle to fully recover. Then these micro-tears would have been entirely repaired, leading to muscle growth and an improvement in strength and power. So, resistance exercises increase muscle tension and build muscle.
As swimming is an exercise against water resistance, the same thing happens during swimming too. And also, swimming is better than cycling, because practically water offers more resistance than air. More resistance on the muscle is proportional to muscle growth.
As swimming targets a variety of muscle groups, it offers a full-body workout. Swimming outperforms most other sports in this regard because it offers the best stimulation for body-wide muscle building. Swimming regularly works the shoulders, abdomen, back, legs, and triceps in particular.
Swimming regularly encourages your muscles to adapt to the stimulus by continuously exposing your body to the resistance caused when moving through the water resulting in muscle growth. Thus, swimming can be considered a good workout. Swimming also broadens our shoulders, increasing our upper body muscles as well as arm and shoulder muscles.
2. Types of Swimming and Their Area of Effect
We can discuss five strokes of swimming techniques,
2.1) Front Crawl
It is sometimes referred to as freestyle swimming too. It is also considered the fastest stroke and is thus used in competitive swimming too. This is a fantastic way to tone your back, torso, and abdominal muscle groups in addition to working out your upper body muscles.
The arm movement used in the crawl helps swimmers stretch their shoulders and tones their deltoid and shoulder muscles. When swimming, extend your forward reach further to improve the efficiency of the stroke. Your lower body, especially your hip flexors and foot muscles, will be worked concurrently by the flutter kick leg action performed in this stroke.
Thus, front crawl is an efficient way to increase muscle strength. This explains why it became a popular choice for both competitive swimmers and those who seek an effective cardiovascular workout.
Backstroke is a kind of swimming that also simultaneously works on a lot of different muscle groups at a time. The act of turning your head to breathe, however, does not need you to activate your neck muscles to the same degree as in front crawl.
Backstroke is excellent for exercising both the inner and outer abdominal muscles, much like freestyle. Additionally, the hamstrings, hip flexors, and other lower body muscles are all specifically targeted. We need to have correct body posture and apply the technique accurately to perform it effectively.
Breaststroke is also a popular stroke that is frequently preferred by older or less active swimmers. It is simpler to perform than a front crawl or backstroke. With the kick action engaging a swimmer’s gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings, this stroke can aid in working the lower limbs increasing the lower body muscles.
The pectoral muscles in your chest are additionally getting a workout from the sweeping arm motions and the action of bringing your head out of the water to take a breath. These exercises are good for the deltoids, biceps, and triceps as well as the shoulder and upper arm muscles. This method of swimming allows both a long time and a good time in the water.
2.4) Butterfly Stroke
It is a lesser-known technique than the other three basic swimming strokes. Butterfly involves a greater amount of strength compared to other swimming styles, which makes it a fantastic workout.
It focuses on the lower body, interacting with the gluteal, lower back, and abdominal muscles as you traverse through the water and lift your upper body to take a breath, exactly like a breaststroke. With each stroke, the muscles in the arm and shoulder are intensively exercised. This helps in strengthening our muscle groups. improve your swimming movement and leg movements to excel in it.
2.5) Side Stroke
Sidestroke is a technique used for leisurely swimming. It can also provide a full body workout and helps to develop broad shoulders. This technique can help to swim longer distances. Increased endurance can be achieved for swimmers who perform the sidestroke.
3. How is Swimming Different From Other Workouts
One of the most important advantages is that, unlike lifting weights, it is a low-impact form of exercise that causes no adverse impacts on your bones and joints. Compared to working out in the gym, swimming may enhance stamina without putting an excessive strain on the body.
Swimming helps improve your lung capacity and breathing, making other forms of exercise much more efficient. This means that if you already exercise in a gym to gain muscle, whether with weights or other equipment, adding swimming will enhance the effectiveness of your current exercise.
As swimming is not age-specific, one can go swimming along with his/her family. It would be fun when we play water games with our family while swimming. In this way, we get entertained and improve our health at the same time. It helps to maintain our mental health too. And apart from that, kids show great love towards swimming pools. So, taking them to swimming pools will make them learn swimming which they can make as their fitness routine in their future.
We can also lose weight by swimming as it burns a significant number of calories reducing excess fat in our body. Approximately 250 to 1000 calories may be burnt while swimming for 30 minutes depending upon the pace which we follow. So, if anyone wants to lose their body weight without straining the body more, swimming can be the best choice.
Swimming can also give us mental relaxation due to a soothing water environment. The water shows a calming effect on the body and the physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It also reduces stress and anxiety.
4. Diet Which Should Be Followed for Muscle Growth
Building muscle is a difficult process. Swimming alone cannot help you to grow muscles and build your upper body. If you want to make a real transformation, a healthy diet and proper nutrients are also essential. Usually, swimming makes us weak and requires a lot of energy.
So, when a proper diet is not taken, one cannot be capable enough to build a strong body. In return, they might face health issues if they strain their body more.
Your muscles are damaged when you exercise in the water. But once the body heals the damaged muscles, the growth takes place. The increase in strength results from them growing bigger and stronger than before.
So, to achieve this, we need to take ample amounts of carbohydrates and proteins in our regular diet. We should at least consume 2g of protein for each gram of our body weight to cope with the continuous sessions of physical activity.
And after a vigorous workout, our muscle glycogen levels become low. We should take sufficient amounts of carbohydrates to restore them. In addition, carbohydrates stimulate the production of insulin. And since insulin is anabolic, it promotes muscle growth.
Foods like chicken, fish, eggs and beans are rich in lean protein. So, consuming them will be beneficial. And for carbohydrates, take whole grains, fruits and vegetables to provide yourself with enough energy. Get healthy fats from avocados and nuts. And don’t forget to stay hydrated after and before workouts. You can consider taking energy drinks, protein shakes and fruit juices.
5. How to Effectively Perform Swimming Workouts
Never start your swimming routine directly. Initially, you should do a little warm-up before you begin the actual workout. Warm-up includes easy swimming which will prepare our muscles and maintain our heart rate accordingly without actually increasing it rapidly.
5.2) Planning Sets
Planning sets, is nothing hard. You should set a goal to do a certain stroke for a few sets and take a little break between changing the sets. These rest periods will be effective for longer workouts. When you become a pro in swimming you can make different strokes dividing how many sets you should perform in a certain time interval.
5.3) Cool Down
At the end of the workout routine, don’t stop it suddenly, in exchange, do a few simple laps to gradually lower your heart rate and relax your muscles. It will prepare your body for the rest.
5.4) Monitoring Progress
Monitoring progress is nothing but keeping a record of your distances, and times and checking for improvements if any to improve your workout sessions. This helps us to keep track of our training frequency.
5.5) Noticing Changes
After a few weeks or months of continuous swimming, you may certainly notice some changes within your body. If they are good, no need to worry, but if you notice any adverse effects on your body, please try to slow down your workout. Try to get a coach to seek help. See a doctor if needed.
From this article, we concluded that swimming builds muscle. Swimming activates the whole body at a time. Some can consider this as a light exercise to build decent muscle strength. Swimming helps to boost our cardiovascular system.
Swimming is one of the best alternatives to build muscles without straining your body more. We should swim daily to see the changes effectively. Regular swimming can improve your mental health too. Conduct frequent swimming sessions.
The diet also plays an important role in shaping our body. So, maintaining a balanced diet would be extremely helpful for us. Take enough amounts of lean proteins and carbohydrates. We should make swimming our fitness routine.
There are different strokes to perform swimming which makes it more fascinating. Every way helps us in muscle development. Each kind of swimming focuses on different parts of our body resulting in muscle growth. And we have many options if we want to find a place to swim.
Swimming is different from other forms of workout. Try to follow an effective way to perform swimming workouts. Never rush into anything quickly. Doing something without necessary knowledge will cause problems in return. Maintain consistency, and gradually increase the intensity to increase your muscle mass.[amazon_auto_links id="280559"]