What Muscles Are Used In Swimming?

| |

What Muscles Are Used in Swimming?

When you think about exercising, how often is it that swimming comes to mind? I can honestly say that it’s not something I thought about until recently. Growing up, I used to swim constantly. I always wondered how I got that toned physique and didn’t lift a single weight. Then I realized – I lived in the water! Seriously, we used to swim for hours on end every day. And once my mind got on the topic, I couldn’t help but realize that swimmers have an impressive body! Think Michael Phelps, Luca Dotto, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel… who doesn’t want a swimmer’s body?

What Muscles Are Used in Swimming

Clearly, I’ve been doing it all wrong by not adding in some swim time to my workout regimen! Not only is swimming beneficial for your body, but it’s the perfect mixture of fun and challenging. I think that’s something we could all use a little more of! Not to mention the fact that you’ll be working towards that dreamy physique by incorporating your upper and lower body during the exercise.

Before hitting the pool and diving in head first (pun intended), become acquainted with what muscles are used in swimming and different stroke styles. That’s right! There are different swimming strokes that you can do in order to challenge yourself, work different muscle groups, or to just give yourself a change in pace. Besides increased muscle toning, swimming has a variety of added benefits that you’ve probably never taken into consideration. So, let’s break it down and get prepped for some laps around the pool!

Benefits of Swimming

While swimming is fun, it’s also got a slew of health benefits that accompany it. Besides physical health benefits, experts have also found swimming to help with mental health by reducing stress and introducing people to new friends. Improved mental health and physical health? That’s definitely a win-win scenario.

Increased Cardiovascular Health

The American Heart Association suggests that adults need two-and-a-half hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity for optimal health. Swimming is a great option for a cardio workout, and is just as beneficial as activities like walking, biking, or dancing. Besides getting the heart rate up, there is hydrostatic pressure to take into account. Hydrostatic pressure is the force a fluid puts on an object. When swimming, water puts pressure on your body, which pushes the blood to your heart and improves circulation.

what muscles are used in swimming

Low Impact

Have you ever jumped in the water and felt like you weighed nothing? Hello buoyancy! Because your body is buoyant in water, it reduces the weight by almost 90%. This makes swimming a low-impact activity that people who want to be more active or who suffer from joint pain / arthritis can take advantage of.

Increases Strength & Improves Endurance

Swimming involves the usage of your upper and lower body muscles, which make it a full-body workout. Because your muscles are so active, swimming will lead to an increase in strength and will improve your endurance levels. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to that swimmer’s body!

Burns Calories

If you’re anything like me, then you want to know you’re burning calories! Experts have found that leisurely swimming burns around 220 calories every 30 minutes in an individual who weighs 155 pounds. However, more vigorous swimming can burn over 400 calories every 30 minutes. So, if you’re searching for an exciting way to torch some calories, swimming might be the answer. And if you’re really wanting a challenge, then you can work towards swimming a mile.

Muscle Groups Used While Swimming

So, swimming clearly has several health benefits. But what muscles are used in swimming?  The long story short — a lot of them!  In fact, they have found swimming to work up to 50 muscles at once.

What Muscles are Used in Swimming

You can count on swimming to work your upper body muscles including shoulders, back, triceps, biceps, chest, forearms and even your hands! In addition, you’ll be working lower body muscles such as legs, glutes, abdominals, hamstrings, lower back and thighs. However, what muscles are used in swimming will differ depending on what swimming stroke you do.

Muscles Used When Swimming Freestyle & Backstroke

You do freestyle, also known as front crawl, on your stomach and is the most popular swimming stroke in the world. Swimming freestyle is the fastest and most efficient of swimming strokes done in competitions. In fact, there are ways to swim freestyle without getting tired.

Backstroke, also referred to as the back crawl, is the second easiest stroke for people to learn. In fact, it usually comes naturally to most swimmers. As the name implies, you do the backstroke on your back.  Although it is done on the back, it engages the same muscles as the freestyle stroke.

Here are what muscles are used in swimming both freestyle & backstroke:

Chest – Pectoralis major and minor
Arms – Forearm flexor and extensors, biceps, triceps, deltoids (shoulder muscles), teres major and minor
Legs – Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus maximus, Groin muscle, Gastrocnemius (calves), Shins, Foot muscles
Core – Serratus anterior (side muscles), External Obliques, Internal Obliques
Back – Trapezius, Rhomboid major and minor, Spinal cord support muscles
Neck muscles

Muscles Used When Swimming Breaststroke

Breaststroke is another stroke that comes naturally to most people. When performing breaststroke, the swimmer is on their chest and the torso doesn’t rotate. The swimmer brings their legs forward with the knees together; they turn their feet outward in order to whip back with a glide and the arms sweep backwards.

The key mantra for this swimming style is “pull, breathe, kick, glide” and the simple technique needed to conquer this stroke has made it easy for many people to master. It’s important to note that in order to do breaststroke properly, each part of the body must be engaged. Here are what muscles are used in swimming breaststroke:

Chest – Pectoralis major and minor
Back – Latissimus dorsi, Trapezius, Rhomboid major and minor, Spinal cord support muscles
Legs – Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus maximus, Groin muscle, Gastrocnemius (calves), Shins, Foot muscles

Muscles Used When Swimming Butterfly Stroke

If you’re searching for a challenge, then learning to butterfly stroke could be just what you’re looking for! Most swimmers know this stroke for being the most challenging of the four. It is both physically demanding and strenuous on the body. You do the butterfly on your chest, with both arms moving symmetrically, and pair it with the butterfly kick, which is like a dolphin kick.

Here are what muscles are used in swimming butterfly:

Back – Trapezius, Rhomboid major and minor, Spinal cord support muscles,
Core – Serratus anterior (side muscles), External Obliques, Internal Obliques
Legs – Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus maximus, Groin muscle, Gastrocnemius (calves), Shins, Several foot muscles
Chest – Pectoralis major and minor
Arms – Forearm flexor and extensors, biceps, triceps, deltoids (shoulder muscles), teres major and minor

Wrap-Up

Swimming is great exercise and has a number of health benefits.  Examples are increased cardiovascular health, strength improvement, improved endurance and the ability to burn plenty of calories.

It’s helpful to know what muscles are used in swimming if you are going to try it!  The short answer is – a lot.  Many of your body’s muscles are engaged when swimming.  Hence the awesome health benefits.  Many of the larger muscles groups such as the chest, back, core, arms and legs are heavily involved.  Now that you know what muscles are used in swimming, it’s time to go swim some laps!

Previous

How Long Does It Take To Bike 20 Miles?

4 Steps To Master the Inverted Hamstring Stretch

Next