Is Swimming a Strength-Training Exercise?

Swimming and weight training workouts both have a place in a healthy, active person's life according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Spend 150 to 300 minutes a week exercising in the pool at a moderately-intense rate; or 75 to 150 minutes at a vigorous rate.

Swimming is considered an aerobic activity, not a strength-building one. (Image: efenzi/E+/GettyImages)

Since swimming is an aerobic activity you can look forward to better cardiovascular health and an increase in your overall fitness level. Strength, or resistance training, with barbells, dumbbells or your own body weight, builds your muscles over time and your level of strength. Push-ups and sit-ups are examples of body-weight exercises. Spend 20 minutes at least two days a week performing strength-training activities.

Tips

Swimming is considered an aerobic activity, not a strength-building one.

Swimming Vs. Weight Lifting

Aerobic, or in this case, swimming exercises are continuous exercises that require your heart to beat within 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate —220 minus your age — rather than your resting heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

A strength-training workout consists of stop-and-start exercises that require rest between sets. For example, most people don't bench-press or leg-press for a few minutes — and each exercise requires too much effort for the human body to do so successfully. Instead, most people do several repetitions of the bench press, rest for a minute or so, then do several repetitions of the leg press.

Read more: How to Start Swimming to Crush Your Fitness Goals

Strength-Training Tips

Strength-training exercises supplement your aerobic exercises, including swimming, running, bicycling and walking. Building your muscles helps you swim faster and increases how much weight you lose swimming, because muscle burns off calories more efficiently than fat. Harvard Health recommends waiting 48 hours between strength-training sessions.

Use the machines or equipment at the gym to perform compound and single-joint isolation exercises. ACE Fitness recommends compound exercises simply because you get more bang for your buck in the form of burning more calories and improving movement efficiency. You can also perform body weight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and squats.

Swim Every Day

Swimming has many benefits. Unlike strength-training exercises, swimming exercises can be done every day. Swimming builds your muscles less than other aerobic exercises, because water limits how much you can move your muscles, but it does give you an opportunity to exercise your entire body, including your arms, back and legs according to Swimming.org. In addition, swimming is an excellent exercise for improving the flexibility and function of your muscles.

Read more: Is Swim Training a Good Cardio Workout?

Improve Your Swim

You can improve your fitness via swimming equally as much by swimming each of the four major strokes — freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly according to Swimming.org. Not all swimming strokes are created equal. The breaststroke doesn't burn as many calories as the others but it ranks overall best for providing a great cardiovascular workout. Butterfly is a difficult stroke to learn and is not for the beginner swimmer. Swimming freestyle tones your back, butt, stomach and shoulders. While the backstroke is a great workout for improving your hips' flexibility.

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