There are various methods on how you can grow muscle. You can lift weights at the gym, climb a mountain, or even ride a bike. Some people can even build muscle mass just with running alone. So if you hear someone questioning whether you can build muscle through swimming, the answer is ‘hell yeah’.
Muscle training while swimming is actually faster than building muscle on land through cardio routines. While not as fast as weight training, it can still get you results. This is due to the added resistance given by the water. Every stroke you make is heavier than what you do on land. If you’re geared towards toning your muscles, a simple 30-60 minute swim three to five days a week can help you get what you need. But if you want to build serious muscle, there are some better alternatives.
For cardio on land, the most basic warm-up would be doing a fast walk or a light jog. Some people also do slow-paced running just to get their muscles ready. For swimmers, this is slightly different. After stretching, you can try walking in deep water up to the point where only your head is above water. Walking from end to end at that specific level can cause your body to work in different ways.
First, your breathing will be heavier as compared to jogging on land. The water resistance will cause you to put more effort into your muscles, causing them to work harder. This will help you warm up faster and is a more intense warm up that what regular cardio can do for you.
Working your legs
Though you might look embarrassing to experienced swimmers, this is no joke. By using a kickboard, you’re limiting the use of your arms, causing your legs to do most of the work. This in turn helps better gain towards your lower torso since the effort is isolated on your legs. Do this for 5-10 minutes of every workout and you’ll see yourself getting better gains.
After that, you can switch over to a pull buoy for another 5-10 minutes. This will help your legs get more during your workouts. Since your legs will always be working for the entire workout, this will also serve as a good warm-up. But if you’re worried about getting your legs too big, don’t worry and just read on.
Change it up
Just doing some kickboard and buoy swimming won’t help your entire body, so adding a few strokes to the equation can do the trick. Here’s a few basic information on what muscles work when you do a specific stroke
Swimming freestyle uses mainly your biceps, triceps, neck, shoulder, waist, and your legs. This can be your equivalent to your arm training and cardio.
Similar to freestyle. You use the same muscles, the only difference is you’re upside-down.
This swimming style uses your laterals, chest, glutes, biceps, inner forearm, and your calves. This is the best stroke to use if you’re building your chest and back muscles. It specifically uses these regions the most so you can get great results.
The butterfly stroke uses more of the bigger muscles in the body. This includes the pecs, neck, shoulder, lats, abs, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, quads, and calves. If you need to tone your abs and quads, this is the stroke best suited for the job.
Switching which stroke you use for your swim routine can greatly affect your pace when it comes to muscle training. If you only know a few, then try learning some more so you can always switch to another one, causing some of your muscles to get more recovery time per training session. If you know which muscle groups you’re targeting, then using a specific stroke can get you faster results.
You can change your routine every one to two weeks to target different areas. You can do Freestyle and Breaststroke for one week, then switch to Backstroke and Butterfly for the next. Letting your muscles recover is key to building mass, that’s why you should make sure that they are properly rested.
Get the proper nutrients
As with every other muscle gain routines, it’s best if you support your game with a little supplement. Drinking whey protein after your workouts can help your muscles recover faster, leading to better muscle tone and muscle gain. You can also consider switching up your diet to cover more protein to ensure you get the best results.
Do note however that muscle gain during swimming is not as big as when doing weight and resistance training. This is due to the fact that muscle does not tear up as much with swimming as compared to lifting weights. But do not believe other people when they say that swimming does not build muscle, it still does, but not as effective as other methods. If you’re looking for a bodybuilder physique, it might be best to stick with weight and resistance training. But if you’re looking for a proper tone and a little bulk, then swimming might be a better choice for you.
Is it effective for building big muscles?
That said, swimming is also not good for maintaining muscle mass. It might actually make your muscles a bit smaller if you use it to maintain. This is because swimming increases your metabolism way up that it might have an effect to the existing muscle mass that you have. For cardio, swimming is the best workout out there. It’s very light on the joints and is very low impact. And since you’re fighting with the water with every move, it causes you to use more effort when going places.
As with any other regular muscle training, you won’t be able to achieve results without even trying. If you don’t have dedication, you won’t get where you want to be. So make sure you follow your routine strictly and consistently. Remember, a missed day is equivalent to around 100 missed laps.