How to Build Muscle Swimming

Besides being fun, swimming has incredible health benefits like toning muscles and building strength. It's a great workout because it requires your whole body to move against the resistance of the water.

Swimming is a great way to tone and build muscles. (Image: Patrik Giardino/The Image Bank/GettyImages)

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the buoyancy of water reduces the stress on weight-bearing joints, making it an excellent low-impact exercise for people with arthritis.

Tip

While swimming is a great aerobic exercise to help you stay toned, it should not be a substitute for traditional strength training.

Why Is Swimming Beneficial?

No matter what your fitness level is, you can turn swimming into what is best for you. Swimming for just 30 minutes a day, three times a week, in addition to a balanced diet is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. According to the Victoria State Government, swimming builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

Not only can it lower stress levels and reduce anxiety, but it's also one of the most effective ways to burn calories. And if that's not enough, because it's such a great form of cardiovascular exercise, swimming can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Building Muscle Through Resistance

So how exactly does swimming build muscle? Resistance training increases muscle strength because it forces your body to work against a weight or force. During resistance training, your muscles will grow as they stretch, tear and recover from exercises. Since water is denser than air, swimming allows your body to build muscle faster than more traditional cardio exercises like running.

Swimming to Build Muscle

According to Appendix 1 of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should perform muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. Grab a set of dumbbells or a paddle board to work on strength training in the water for maximum results!

Step 1: Warm Up First

Before getting in the water, make sure to warm up your body with dynamic stretching to prepare for swimming. When you're ready, do an in-water warm-up swim of 500 yards at an easy pace.

Step 2: Front Crawl and Breaststroke

Swim for five minutes without resting, alternating between a front crawl and breaststroke every length. After five minutes, rest until your breathing returns to normal.

Step 3: Use a Float

Hold a float between your legs, and just using your arms, do eight lengths using your favorite stroke. Rest up to 15 seconds after each length.

Step 4: Use Your Favorite Stroke

Swim eight lengths using your favorite stroke without the float. Rest up to 15 seconds after each length.

Step 5: Alternate Between Two Strokes

Swim 12 lengths alternating between your two favorite strokes with no rest.

Step 6: Do a Cool Down

After your main sets, do a quick cool down of 400 yards at an easy pace to relax your muscles.

Build Muscle Outside the Water

Make sure to maintain traditional strength training on top of swimming for maximum results. If you don't want to go to the gym, you can reduce the impact on your body by bringing strength training to the pool with a set of water dumbbells.

Incorporating a healthy diet on top of swimming and strength training will help you build muscle and stay toned. Try to eat carbohydrates and protein-rich foods such as eggs, whole grains and chicken. For recovery and muscle growth, consume 20 grams of whey protein powder after swimming.

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