How To Get a Swimmer’s Body in 3 Steps: Ultimate Guide!

How to Get a Swimmer’s Body?

If you like to swim or hang around with competitive swimmers, you can spot a swimmer’s body from miles away.

But, if you don’t know what a swimmer’s body looks like, I’ll paint the picture for you.

Most serious swimmers are tall & lean with long limbs, broad shoulders, and a defined abdominal area. 

Let’s not forget those ripped abs and muscles in their arms and legs. With a killer physique like this, a swimmer’s body is hard to miss.

The good news is that you too can get that look–regardless of your swimming skills!

But what is it exactly that drives people to work hard for a swimmer’s body? Well, a swimmer’s body is fit and ripped but not bulky.

It is attractive, especially for people who are not the greatest fans of the Arnold Schwarzenegger look. 

Another reason this body type is oh-so desirable is that a swimmer’s look is natural yet muscular. The physique is symmetrical with even body dimensions.

The lower body is just as lean and muscular as the upper body, with no one part stealing the thunder.

You probably like the swimmer’s look and are wondering how you can get that incredible form.  Without further ado, let’s dive in!

How to Get a Swimmer's Body

To get a swimmer’s body, the first thing you need to do is understand how most swimmers get the physique of a Greek God. 

Those distinctive abs, lats, and triceps come courtesy of the hard and relentless swimming regimen of serious swimmers.

They tone their bodies to perfection for the same reason. But genetics also come into play when talking about factors like height and length of the limbs.

Yet, a shorter height is not always a deal-breaker.

In fact, some of the best swimmers in the history of sports, like David Berkoff and Kosuke Hagino, were not tall.

They showed that while the general trend for swimmers is to be tall, it is not a necessity.

But, the one thing that is necessary to achieve your body goals is perseverance. It is important to understand that swimmers spend hours working and training in the pool.

They follow a certain lifestyle that allows them to achieve and maintain the look that drives us all crazy.

Their physique results from intense training in and outside of the pool.

Swimmer's Body

If you wish to have that lean and mean body, you must work hard.  There’s not much that you can do about the physical traits you are born with. 

But, you can still get the body of your dreams by working on the acquirable traits of a swimmer’s physique.

It will not be easy and it won’t happen overnight. Elite swimmers undergo intense high-frequency training.

If you don’t plan on doing that, it’ll take you much longer to get toned and develop large muscles while maintaining the natural lean look of the body.

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3 Steps to Getting a Swimmer’s Body

Sure, it’ll take determination and loads of effort on your end to get that ripped look but it’ll be worth it!

If you are up for some hard work, scroll down to read the ultimate 3-step guide on getting a swimmer’s physique.

Step 1–Get in the Pool!

How to Get a Swimmer's Body
This one’s a no brainer–the swimmer’s body develops in the pool.

Michael Phelps, one of the most famous swimmers in the world, swam 12 times a week, covering almost 12 miles in water each day.

With that kind of workout, your body is bound to transform. You can start with frequent swimming and build up to a moderately intense regime.

The goal is to adapt to the water by working out different muscles in the body at the same time.

For fast and best results, use various swimming styles to build several traits of a swimmer’s body.

Let’s look at some trademark swimmer’s body traits that develop in the pool.

Lats and Triceps

Swimmer's Body
Lats, also known as the latissimus dorsi, are the muscles of the middle back.

They play a major role in developing the V shape of the swimmer’s body.

But triceps are the most voluminous and defined area of a swimmer’s arm.

The massive triceps and lats muscles result because of the repetitive stroke motion.

You already know that it takes effort and energy to move inside water. Thus, the propulsion phase during swimming builds muscles.

The more time you spend in the water and the higher your water training frequency, the better.

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Leg Muscles

Swimmer’s legs are powerful and well defined, but they are not bulky.

This is important because more muscles in the legs mean the swimmer will have to exert more energy to move underwater and drag more weight.

This can restrict movement, which is why not to build excess leg muscles.

Broad Shoulders

How to Get a Swimmer's Body
Broad shoulders are the trademark of a swimmer’s body.

The powerful shoulders develop over time because of repetitive stroke motion.

These repetitions create hypertrophy in a swimmer’s shoulder that results in massive shoulder muscles.

You can recreate this with one-arm strokes like freestyle, two-arm strokes like butterfly or even backstroke.

Practice all these strokes or whichever you like the most to get those ripped shoulders.

Keep in mind that building shoulders are important because, just like lats, your shoulders also play a role in defining the V shape.

Defined Abs and Slim Waist

Logging time in the pool will also give you a thin waist and well-defined abs.  Swimming is both an aerobic activity and full-body exercise.

Because of this, swimming helps build your core and increases the metabolism rate in your body.

This results in a fast caloric burn that will help to get rid of any excess body fat that you may have.

Also, frequent swimming leads to a decrease in the production of visceral fats in the body, helping you reach your fitness goals.

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These are some desirable traits that you will gain by putting in the laps.

The reason swimming works so well to tone up the body is that it is a full-body exercise and cardio.

The swimmer directs energy at overcoming water resistance. This resistance training works evenly for the entire body to create the perfect symmetry.

The best part about swimming is that the more you swim, the higher will be your endurance.

As a result, you will work harder in your next training session. So perseverance is the key.

Start off slow and gradually log more hours in the pool until you see the results you want.

Step 2–Dryland Training

While swimming helps, you can’t rely on it solely to get a swimmer’s body.

Even the best, most qualified swimmers in the world spend countless hours indulging in dry land training.

When you are aiming for a swimmer’s body, strength training and cross-fit training are the basic requirements.

Strength training will give you the strength you need to continue tirelessly with repetitive strokes in the water, while cross-fit training helps prevent injuries.

You need to exercise your abs, calves, thighs, shoulders, chest, and back to gain raw power and the ideal swimmer’s body.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that can build a swimmer’s physique without gaining too much muscle.

Squat Jump

Swimmer's Body
Squat jump is a beneficial exercise that works your glutes, quads, and calf muscles.

You can depend on your body weight or use dumbbells or a barbell to provide excess weight.

If you are a beginner, try to pull off 3 sets of 12 reps for effective results and then gradually build up from there.

Triceps Extension

As we discussed above, strong triceps are an important part of the swimmer’s look.

So, it makes sense that you pay extra attention to the triceps when working out the arms and try triceps extension.

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Here’s how you can perform this exercise: Sit on a flat surface, for example, a bench, and pick a dumbbell in each hand.

Put your hands behind your head in a way that your elbows point upwards and align with your back.

Now, extend the weight above your head, hold it there and then bring it back down to the starting position.

Keep the weight shift transition as smooth as possible.

Keep in mind that this exercise will fatigue the triceps quickly, but they will recover in no time. Perform 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps for the best results.


How to Get a Swimmer's Body
Planks are an excellent way to stabilize your core. If you haven’t tried this exercise yet, let me tell you it is much harder than it looks!

Planks focus on the core muscles, giving you sculpted abs, which are the hallmark of a swimmer’s body.

When performed along with a dedicated swim routine, this exercise can be very effective.

Lat Pull Down

Swimmer's Body
Lat pulls help strengthen and define the back muscles.

Whether you try neck pull downs or pull downs to the chest, you will get excellent results. You can also try pull downs using a V-shaped bar.

Here’s how you can perform a basic lat pull down exercise: keep your chest tall and bring the bar to your chest.

Your elbows should be pointed straight towards the ground. Now, squeeze your lats.

Make sure you grab the bar just outside your shoulder or a little wider.

One common mistake that many people make while performing lat pulls is that they pull down to the chest and let their elbows point backward.

Make sure you don’t make this mistake as it will disengage your lat and nullify the effect of your exercise.

Also, avoid going too wide as that will shorten the range of your motion and can also irritate the joint.

Overhead Squat

Swimmer's Body
Overhead squat also helps with glutes and quads.

Keeping your arms above your head helps you control the core’s stability, improving your position in the water.

To perform an overhead squat, keep your feet farther away than a normal squat.

Begin in a standing position. Hold a towel over your head with your arms straight.

Now, slowly squat backward until the top of your thighs is parallel to the ground, starting the movement with your hips.

Hold the position before pushing through the hips to return to the standing position.

These are some must-try exercises. You can come up with a routine of your own.

Make sure you include various strength training and weight lifting exercises.

Also, throw a few flexibility exercises in the mix to keep your body fit, strong, and flexible.

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Step 3–Mind Your Diet

Swimming burns a lot of calories.  You must consume enough calories to maintain a high energy level and also meet the nutritional needs of your body.

Did you know that Michael Phelps consumed around 12,000 calories a day? But don’t start munching on the first thing you see!

It is important to eat healthy foods only. Your diet must contain the following if you wish to get a ripped swimmer’s body.


Swimmer's Body
Carbohydrates should make up about one half (50%) of a swimmer’s diet as they fuel the energy to keep the body going.

Some excellent sources of carbohydrates include rice, pasta, cereal, beans, potatoes, and lentils.

The rule of the thumb is to consume 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs for every pound of the total body weight.


Swimmer's Body
Protein is also important for a swimmer’s diet as it repairs and regenerates the muscles.

Around 25% of your diet must be good proteins.

Some sources of protein include eggs, fish, lean meat, whole wheat, nuts, and low-fat dairy products.


Finally, don’t forget to include some healthy fats in your diet. Some sources of healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts, pumpkin flesh, and seeds.

Keeping these nutritional needs in mind, a 150-pound swimmer must consume at least 75 grams of carbs each day.

They should also consume 40 grams of protein with some healthy fats in a day.


If you want a ripped body and are determined, this is how to get a swimmer’s body.

Step 1 – Get in the pool and start swimming.  Be consistent and intentional. 

As you see gains in time and distance, keep increasing.  And remember, they didn’t build Rome in a day.

Step 2 – You’re going to have to do dry land training the days you’re not swimming. 

This will consist of various core, chest, shoulder and leg exercises.  The goal of dry land is to increase your strength and intensity.

Step 3 – Nutrition.  To get that ripped swimmer’s body, you will need to eat balanced portions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Now you know how to get a swimmer’s body..  With work and perseverance, you will attain one!

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Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!

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