Building Muscle by Swimming: How To Gain Impressive Results

by Josh | Last Updated:  October 12, 2020
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Swimming is one of the most complete and healthy exercises to perform; they help you build stamina, improve your breathing technique, improves your ability to handle your center of gravity, and make you very agile.

Whether you swim alone or you have a coach to spot you, swimming is a wholesome exercise to do, and everyone should incorporate swimming into their exercise routine.

Just like jogging and sprinting, swimming allows you to improve cardiovascular fitness and today we will cover how to build muscle by swimming.

However, today’s article revolves around whether or not you can improve your muscle mass through swimming or not. And if you can, what are the habits to maximize swimming’s muscle-building effects and what are the best exercises to achieve muscles while swimming.

Can You Build Muscles Through Swimming?

The answer is yes. You can build your muscles through swimming. Just like weight workouts in the gym, swimming is also a resistance workout that pushes your muscles to grow and expand. Swimming is low impact and has low risks of injury as you are working out in the water.

It’s an ideal exercise for those who can’t incorporate high-impact workouts in their routine as well as for those who are suffering from joint injuries or have some sort of problems, which makes it harder for them to do cardio and weight lifting exercises.

Swimming is one of the ways to build muscles; an example will be of professional and/or Olympic swimmers; they are packed with lean muscles.

However, there’s a catch that when you are only relying on swimming as a method to gain muscles, you will achieve the results much later as compared to working out with free weights.

How Does Swimming Grow Your Muscles?

The fundamental principle behind muscular growth is that when exposed to highly intense activities that they can’t perform, they tend to stretch, tear, and break down. When it happens, your muscles go into a recovery state, and when they come back, they come back stronger than before.

That’s how all resistance exercises help you achieve muscles. Just like other resistance exercises such as weightlifting, swimming follows the same principle. But there’s a catch to building muscles through swimming exercises.

When you are swimming, the stress placed on your body relatively gets dispersed through your body; compare this to weightlifting, where the impact gets placed on your muscles, which you are training.

That’s why in swimming, the muscles take much longer time to build than weight lifting. However, since the impact is decreased, you have much fewer chances of getting injured while performing swimming exercises.

Due to this quality, swimming is ideal for those who want a healthy and long term routine. When compared to other cardio exercises such as biking, running, and sprinting, swimming builds muscles faster.

The reason is that when you are in the water, you need a constant movement of pushing and pulling against the water.

This constant pushing and pulling movement allows you to build endurance, muscle strength, and capacity. Water has a higher resistance level than air. That’s why swimming can help you achieve the desired body shape.

Healthy Habits Which Will Help You Gain Muscle Mass Through Swimming

Swimming will help you build muscles, but you need to adopt some consistent methods which will help you gain muscles and maximize the muscle-building benefits of swimming exercises. Those habits are.

Get Proper Nutrition

As it’s the case with pretty much all exercises, you can’t get muscle mass or desired results if you are looking down on your diet and meal-routine. Lack of proper nutrition can destroy your reps even more than a lack of exercise.

You need to increase the amount of protein you ingest to maximize the potential of swimming exercises. More than half of the muscle mass is built by diet, and that’s the expert opinion—intake meals which are healthy and allow for a speedy recovery.

Stay away from processed foods and refined sugars and incorporate lean proteins in your meal routine.

Be Consistent

You can’t archive the desired muscle mass if you are only swimming one or three times a week. Come up with a manageable routine and follow it devotedly. Make your exercise consistent and do not skip your days.

Many people have a swimming pool in their backyard. If you don’t have it, then joining a gym is a better option. Make sure to go 3-5 times a week.

Be Intense

Swimming is helpful for building muscles due to its intense nature; if your exercise lacks intensity, then swimming will seldom have any benefits for you. If you do the same workout every day in the swimming pool, then your intensity will go away, and muscle growth will stop.

As soon as you adapt to a certain amount of intensity, it’s your call to start intensifying your workout more. Since you cannot add weights to your body while swimming, a possible way to increase your intensity while swimming is to take longer laps around the swimming pool, increase your speed, etc.

Give Individual Attention to Arms And Legs

Earlier, we mentioned that when you are swimming, the total impact tends to get dispersed throughout your body rather than individual muscle groups. But there’s a way to get around it creatively.

If you want to train your legs individually, then start swimming with a kickboard. In this way, your arms won’t do much, but your legs will help to propel you forward. This will help you train your legs as well as build the core muscles required for swimming.

If you want to train your arms individually, you can use a pull buoy to focus on your arm muscles.

Don’t Skip Traditional Training

Swimming is a great exercise, but relying solely on swimming is not appropriate either. As discussed above, swimming tends to take longer when growing your muscles.

You should incorporate traditional strength training, such as weight lifting, on your routine as well.

Top 4 Swimming Exercises To Do To Gain Muscle Mass

Here is a list of highly intense exercises that you can do to generate more intensity in your water resistance training.

Tombstone Drill

Tombstone drill is one of the most effective exercises to make your swimming routine more intense, and you should incorporate it into your swimming routine. Tombstone dill is performed by using a kickboard.

To do a tombstone drill, hold the kickboard vertically in the water (make sure that the flat part of the kickboard is facing the wall of the pool) and then start kicking as hard as you can.

The board helps intensify your swimming resistance; when you are doing a tombstone drill, you have to use your hip flexors, quad muscles, and hamstrings.

If you want extra intensity, then try doing the tombstone drill for one-two lengths of the pool.

Kickboard Press and Pull

Kickboard press and pulls help you achieve leg muscles quickly as well as strengthening your core muscles. It will help you train your arms individually and will generate enormous strength in your arm muscles.

To do a kickboard press and pull:

Do maximum reps of around three sets. Besides working on your arms, it also helps you build muscles on pecs, shoulders, and upper back muscles.

Gutbuster

Gutbuster is a very effective core exercise to perform in the swimming pool. It helps you train your core and makes you a better swimmer real fast.

Do exercise regularly, start by holding a kickboard in your lap, keep the torso straight, and keep your legs parallel to the swimming pool floor. Your body will take an L shape.

Start doing flutter kicks and move yourself to the other end of the pool.

Paddling

Another exercise, to do while swimming is to take the help of paddles when you swim! Swimming with paddles will help you build your lats and will strengthen your core muscles.

When choosing a paddle, make sure that they are just a litter larger than your hand and have plenty of holes in them to allow you to disperse the stress on your shoulders.

Just like using weights in traditional workouts, paddles play the same role in your swimming exercise. They and more resistance to your exercise! First, start with fewer reps to allow your body to get used to the extra stress.

If you are a beginner, then you should wait before using paddles in your workout. Take slow steps before moving on to the paddles to avoid the risk of injury.

Final Thoughts on How to Build Muscle by Swimming

Swimming is one of the complete exercises to perform as they engage all your muscles, such as lats, shoulders, arms, hip flexors, quad muscles, etc.

As with any other workout, you need to supplement it with proper nutrition to make it more effective.

Do plenty of swimming exercises to intensify the workout and use paddles and kickboards when you move on to more intense levels.

I grew up in a home where most our days were spent inside, and sports were not a family priority. I did play soccer and baseball as a kid, but the older I got, the more I lost interest. To regain my health, I decided to adhere to the three tenets of health and longevity. I hope you will join me, by making it your purpose to live as long and well as possible.