We have all heard about the many benefits of swimming. Perhaps the most common pros of swimming regularly (or as you hear from your workout enthusiast buddy) are that it increases muscle mass, endurance, and stamina. It is a low-impact, aerobic workout and, most of all, a great way to trim unwanted body fat and burn calories.
While all this sounds amazing, at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “Does swimming build muscle in reality? If yes, how effectively does it do the job?”
Today, we will discuss whether swimming is as much a muscle-building activity as people claim to be.
Can I Build Muscles Through Swimming?
In short, yes, swimming can help develop muscles. When swimming, you always pull and push against the water resistance involving a bundle of muscle groups in your body. You essentially exist in an environment that promotes muscle growth.
Muscle mass is developed through persistence resistance to a particular group of muscles, or in many scenarios like swimming, for instance, putting pressure on an array of muscle groups simultaneously.
If a muscle feels enough stress, that causes small tears in the muscle’s fibers called micro-tears. Due to these micro-tears, you feel tired and sore throughout the day. However, the pain goes away in many cases after a nice workout.
Muscles typically require 24-48 hours to recover fully. Once they have fully recovered, the micro-tears will have healed and rebuilt themselves, leading to muscular development and increased power and strength.
Water is around 784 times thicker than air at sea level, which explains that the water’s resistance level is much higher than air’s, which is one of the primary causes why swimming might assist in gaining muscles. As previously stated, through resistance training, muscle is produced by micro-tears forming in muscle fibers.
Thus, when you swim, you exert resistance on all the implicated groups of muscles, which causes micro-tears in the muscles, resulting in muscular growth and strength improvement.
Is Swimming Good for Building Muscle?
Given how water resistance is significantly higher than air resistance, swimming is naturally an effective way to build muscle – at least compared to most cardio workouts. However, if you wish to build only muscle, you may succeed more in something else, such as weight lifting.
As mentioned in the previous section, the water’s higher resistance has a great role in this. You will develop more muscle via swimming than you would with basic cardio forms like cycling, running, or walking.
So, now that you know swimming can build muscle, we have to discuss whether it’s effective or not.
After a few occasions of applying external pressure to a muscle, you must remember one thing: it adapts to the wear and tear and gets stronger and bigger – meaning it will not require greater resistance or force to be stimulated enough to grow. Thus, we can understand that muscle building is a consistency of the process of putting external resistance on your muscles, stimulating them, and giving them the proper time to recover so they can be stronger.
As time passes, your exercises will have to get more challenging, i.e., put more resistance on your muscles.
This process is fairly straightforward when practicing lifting weights or using dumbbells. Once you have done one workout once or twice, you add an extra pound or two to increase the resistance.
Unfortunately, things are much more complicated with swimming. Increasing pressure is still possible underwater to ensure consistent growth of muscles, but the process will take more out of you than weight lifting.
That being said, this does not imply that swimming isn’t good for muscle building, but it simply suggests that more planning and brainpower will be needed to keep the growth rate steady.
If you have the willpower to give swimming a chance, you will experience muscle growth and many other benefits. It strengthens your core and greatly raises stamina and endurance, allowing you to tolerate pressure for an extended period.
How to Build Muscle Through Swimming
Ready to build some solid muscles through the power of swimming? Make sure to go through these steps for the best results:
Step 1: Warm Up Before Anything
Like any performance-intensive sport, it’s important to warm up before you get in the water for a swim. Do some dynamic stretching for this. Once you finish that, do a brief warm-up swim for a minute or two. Keep the pace slow.
Step 2: Breaststroke and Front Crawl
Swim for 5 minutes without taking a break, alternating between breaststroke and front crawl at every length. At the 5-minutes mark, stop and allow your breathing to stabilize.
Step 3: Use a Float
Keep afloat in between your legs. Use only your arms to perform eight lengths of your favorite stroke. After every length, rest for a maximum of 15 seconds.
Step 4: Use Your Preferred Stroke
Discard the float now and swim eight lengths using a stroke of your choice. Rest for 15 seconds between measurements.
Step 5: Shift Between Two Strokes
Select two strokes and alternate between those two as you do 12 lengths. No rest.
Step 6: Cool Down
When you have completed your main sets, allow your body to cool down with 400 yards at a slow pace.
In conclusion to “Does swimming build muscle?” we realize that while it can be helpful, swimming is not the best way to build muscle. If you are consistent with your swimming regime and commit to it fully while following the guidelines and tips provided in this article, you are bound to see results.
You can also read: How Much Cardio Should You Do Per Day and Week?