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Does Swimming Build Muscle?

Does Swimming Build Muscles

Swimming is a complete-body workout. Are you trying to build muscles and want to know whether swimming is effective for it or not? Or you are a regular swimmer and want to know how it affects your muscles.

Yes, swimming can build muscles. There are different types of swimming styles that engage different muscles. These can help you strengthen and build these muscles. This article will provide you with all the information you need to know to understand this concept. Moreover, we have also shared other lifestyle tips to help you build muscles in the end as well. 

Reading and following the instructions shared in this article will be a game changer for your muscle game. We have also shared the 10 most effective swimming exercises for this purpose. Let’s check it out. 

What Muscles Does Swimming Work With?

Swimming almost engages your whole body muscles, but the muscles related to the arms and legs are more affected by it. We have divided it into three sections. Following are the muscles affected by swimming in these three body parts. 

Upper Body: 

The first and most affected muscles are in the upper body. These include the deltoids, pectoral muscles, and latissimus dorsi. Most of the swimming techniques involve arm movement, which affects your biceps and triceps. Moreover, the muscles of the upper back and shoulders are also involved in it. .

Core And Abs Body: 

Swimming also affects your core and abdominal muscles. Swimmers constantly engage their core muscles to maintain proper body position and streamline in the water. These include your obliques, abs, and deeper core muscles.

Lower Body:

Swimming also affects your lower body muscles, especially in exercises involving the kicking motion. These may include exercises like freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly. The muscles affected by these exercises include the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. These are strengthened and toned due to the repetitive motion. 

Types Of Swimming And Their Effect On Muscles

There are different types of swimming styles. Each of these styles engages and affects your muscles in a different way. Strokes are a very common style and are very helpful in building muscle. Let’s check it out in detail to understand it better. 


The first type we are going to discuss is breaststroke. It primarily involves your leg muscles. Especially your hip muscles, like the abductor and adductor, are affected a lot by this exercise. The circular movement during the exercise can affect various muscles. 


After breast stroking, we are going to discuss backstroke. It especially affects the powerful latissimus dorsi muscles. Alongside these muscles, it also affects the deltoids and triceps, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors. It is often recommended for people looking to build muscles by swimming. 

Freestyle (Front Crawl): 

The third swimming style is freestyle. People also call it front crawling. It engages the muscles of your whole body. The arm movement affects your latissimus dorsi and internal rotator muscles. Internal rotator muscles include the pectoral muscles, subscapularis, and serratus anterior. This is when your arm is pushing the water behind you.

The muscles involved in arm recovery include the deltoids, trapezius, and external rotator. The leg movement in this exercise targets the hamstring, core, and gluteal muscles. 

Butterfly Stroke: 

The last swimming style we are going to discuss is the butterfly stroke. It is considered very effective for building upper-body muscles. All the muscles in your chest, shoulders, back muscles, and arms are involved. The specific style helps in increasing your muscle mass.

10 Best Swimming Exercises For Gaining Muscle Mass

Now that you have learned that swimming can help you build muscles, here are some exercises that are specifically beneficial for this purpose.

  • Breaststroke
  • Backstroke
  • Butterfly
  • Flutter kick
  • Jump lunge
  • Dolphin Kick
  • Freestyle
  • Leg lifts
  • Water crunches
  • Water running

Lifestyle Tips For Building Muscles

Alongside swimming, you can also make several other lifestyle changes to strengthen your muscles. Following are some effective and practical tips for you.

  • Stick to a consistent exercise routine focusing on resistance training.
  • Gradually increase the intensity, weight, or volume of your workouts.
  • Consume a balanced diet rich in protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Ensure you get enough sleep each night for muscle recovery.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes and meal timing for optimal fueling.
  • Consider supplementation like protein powder and creatine if needed.
  • Limit alcohol and processed food intake to support muscle growth.
  • Always start with a proper warm-up and end with a cool-down.
  • Incorporate a variety of exercises and training modalities to keep muscles challenged.
  • Focus on proper form and technique to maximize muscle engagement.
  • Manage stress through activities like meditation or yoga.
  • Set achievable short-term and long-term muscle-building goals.
  • Listen to your body’s signals and adjust your workouts accordingly.
  • Seek professional guidance from certified trainers or nutritionists, if needed.

Final Words

Yes, swimming helps build muscles. It is considered a very beneficial exercise for your overall fitness as well. Backstroke and breaststroke are the most effective exercises in this regard. Start with easy exercises for short durations to slowly build strength and endurance for tough ones.

Moreover, building muscles is not just about swimming. You need to make several lifestyle changes to get into shape. Your diet, recovery, consistency, and other factors also play a very effective role in it. Making these changes alongside swimming can boost your results. 


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