Fitness
Moderators: melkor


Swimming - Does it build muscle?


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I only started swimming about 6 weeks ago and have already built up from doing only 1 length at a time, to doing 10 at a time. I repeat those sets of 10 several times over an hour. I'm not very clued up when it comes to exercise (what does what?) I always feel firm and toned after an hour in the pool. I know it's only a feeling that I get internally, because I still have all the excess flub and skin on the outside, but it's a nice feeling. I feel like I work some muscle groups. I ache slightly, afterwards but usually have a quick sauna or spa afterwards and that eases things. Does swimming lengths of the pool build muscle?

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swimming is an all around body toner.  I always lose weight when I swim. It is good for you and your joints.  swimming seems to tone more then build muscle for me anyway.  If you like it, you are doing it and it feels good keep it up.  It makes my arms and legs much stronger.  That is for sure!
No it will not, as tully said it will "tone" and all toneing really is, is a reduction in body fat, so swimming will reduce bodyfat.
 Uh?

Wouldn't bet on that. This guy sure looks like swimming does more than burn the fat off, eh?

 "Tone" is a very misused word - muscle tonus is the reflexive contraction of muscle not under tension; we perceive that as muscle "hardness". "Toning" in the fitness/Shape Magazine sense is simply an extremely inefficient way of building small amounts of muscle - at a guess I'd say that doesn't adequately describe swimmers.

 Now granted, it doesn't put on as much muscle mass as lifting heavy weights would, but then again, pretty much nothing does. Doesn't mean it won't contribute to muscular development as your body adapts to the specific demands imposed on it by your chosen mode of exercise.

 I'm sure Coach_K has some views on the subject as well :)
melkor I am sure the guy in the picture you displayed does some form of resistance training to supplement his swimming program, like most athletes do.

Ask any bodybuilder, hardness does not come form cardio, it comes from low bf and usually some power lifting thrown into normal strength training, and that swimmer guy is not hard by any stretch, his muscles are very smooth and soft looking manily due to his high bf, prob in the 15% range.
This conversation has happened before - http://www.calorie-count.com/forums/post/6724 2.html - and I haven't changed my mind since yesterday.

 There are many different fitness qualities that contribute to muscle size, not just muscle fiber growth from resistance training. Mind you, resistance training is the most effective way to put on muscle, but it's not the only way.

 (edited to add:) The reactive hardness of a muscle from tonus is different from the appearance of hardness from maintaining a low body fat percentage. And it's counterproductive to go too low in BF% off-season, your body is most anabolic between 10-12% BF. Go below that, and your body will use any extra energy to put on fat rather than to grow muscle. Therefore, you will rarely see a bobybuilder maintain in-season BF% in the offseason unless there's something like a photo shoot happening.
Swimming most definitely builds muscle -- regardless of everything else, you are still doing resistance training.  You may never get the size or even the strength that you get with lifting, but all my muscles are currently from swimming -- I don't do anything else (and, yes, I have visible muscle in my biceps, triceps, and shoulders).
Seems there are mixed ideas on whether it builds muscle or not. I guess I don't really want to look overly muscley anyway, but I do want to lose weight and firm up. In particular my abdomen and arms. I can very definitely feel pull on both of these areas during my workouts in the pool. I also walk every day (at least an hour. Some days 2-3 hours) and I cycle occassionally (not as much as much as I could be doing) Going to a gym just doesn't appeal to me, besides weight lifting is a no-no for me with an unrepaired TFCC tear in my wrist. I guess the main thing is: It gets me active, I enjoy doing it and I always feel great afterwards. Smile
Kicking on your back and/or swimming backstroke can help with the abs -- you won't build there, but you will strengthen those muscles ( -- he twisting motion while swimming backstroke works the obliques and just using your core to keep your feet near the surface while kicking on your back works the rest of the ab muscles, particularly the rectus abdominus

Hey cool. Thanks for the tips! Wink

For me,  swimming has not built muscles say the same as weight training does.  I love swimming though and coached for a couple of years.  I think it is all around the best excericse because it is soo easy on the joints and works the whole body.  Whenever I include swimming in my weight loss journey,  I feel better and seem to lose more weight.  It always tones.  It does a body good!
#11  
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I just injured my achilles, and the only cardio I'm allowed is swimming. Do you guys haev any tips? Or any good swimming workouts? Thanks!
#12  
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Ok, I am a swim coach, and a future Physical Education teacher, so when it comes to exercise, especially swimming, I know what I am talking about.

Swimming builds muscle, not a lot, but some. If you consider weight lifting strategies this will become more clear.

In weight lifting, to build as much muscle as possible one would do high weight, low rep workouts. This means they would pick an exercise, then select a weight that they could only lift a few times, then do many sets.

On the other side of the spectrum there is low weight, high rep weight lifting. This is used to firm and tone, as well as work on muscle endurance (if you were training for a sport). Here, one would chose an exercise, then a low weight that they can lift 15-20 times before they were tired.

You can think of swimming as the ULTIMATE low weight high rep workout. The resistance of the water ABSOLUTELY builds muscle. You should feel your shoulders, triceps (back of the arms), lats (back muscles), butt, quads, and hamstrings all get sore from a really good swim workout. In addition, it will provide a good cardio workout as well.

You mentioned that you were never really sure when your swimming added up to a true exercise. Well an hour is PLENTY of time to get a great work out.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Rather than doing all ten lengths several times, do maybe 4 lengths quickly (not a full sprint) to get your heart rate up.
  2. Make sets for yourself. For example: do 4 lengths at a time (100 yards in a standard 25 yard pool)  5 times with 15-30 seconds between each.
  3. If you get really good you can use the clock to standardize your sets. The way to do this is too swim 100 yards as quickly as you can while you time yourself. Then using this time you can swim at slower paces for more sets. For example: let's say you can sprint 100 yards in 1 minute and 30 seconds, then you could reduce the time and do this set: 4 lengths (100 yards) 5 times 2:00 minutes per 100 yards.
  4. KICK!!! Grab a kick board and kick 2 lengths and do it fast! This should burn the quads. You don't always have to sprint kick, but kicking in general will help target those leg muscles. Some people have trouble moving anywhere when they kick, but as long as you keep your ankles nice and loose and you don't bend your knees too much, you should be fine.

These tips should be enough to keep your heart rate up and give you a great woukout. Mix it up, do long disance then shot distance, kick then swim. Have fun!!! Hope it helps.

#13  
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Ok, I am a swim coach, and a future Physical Education teacher, so when it comes to exercise, especially swimming, I know what I am talking about.

Swimming builds muscle, not a lot, but some. If you consider weight lifting strategies this will become more clear.

In weight lifting, to build as much muscle as possible one would do high weight, low rep workouts. This means they would pick an exercise, then select a weight that they could only lift a few times, then do many sets.

On the other side of the spectrum there is low weight, high rep weight lifting. This is used to firm and tone, as well as work on muscle endurance (if you were training for a sport). Here, one would chose an exercise, then a low weight that they can lift 15-20 times before they were tired.

You can think of swimming as the ULTIMATE low weight high rep workout. The resistance of the water ABSOLUTELY builds muscle. You should feel your shoulders, triceps (back of the arms), lats (back muscles), butt, quads, and hamstrings all get sore from a really good swim workout. In addition, it will provide a good cardio workout as well.

You mentioned that you were never really sure when your swimming added up to a true exercise. Well an hour is PLENTY of time to get a great work out.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Rather than doing all ten lengths several times, do maybe 4 lengths quickly (not a full sprint) to get your heart rate up.
  2. Make sets for yourself. For example: do 4 lengths at a time (100 yards in a standard 25 yard pool)  5 times with 15-30 seconds between each.
  3. If you get really good you can use the clock to standardize your sets. The way to do this is too swim 100 yards as quickly as you can while you time yourself. Then using this time you can swim at slower paces for more sets. For example: let's say you can sprint 100 yards in 1 minute and 30 seconds, then you could reduce the time and do this set: 4 lengths (100 yards) 5 times 2:00 minutes per 100 yards.
  4. KICK!!! Grab a kick board and kick 2 lengths and do it fast! This should burn the quads. You don't always have to sprint kick, but kicking in general will help target those leg muscles. Some people have trouble moving anywhere when they kick, but as long as you keep your ankles nice and loose and you don't bend your knees too much, you should be fine.

These tips should be enough to keep your heart rate up and give you a great woukout. Mix it up, do long disance then shot distance, kick then swim. Have fun!!! Hope it helps.

To build muscle you should be doing weights. As mentioned in a previous post, swimming will build some muscle, but it is cardio. Cardio’s primary effect will be reducing your body fat to reveal muscle.

 

The swimmers body’s muscle structure is lean, without the bulk of a body builder. It sounds like you need to think about what your goal is, then plan your nutrition and your workouts to suit it (source: www.TheSwimmersBody.com )

Weights will do the muscles good...but...The truth is that we associate great bodies with fitness equipment and weights and we have the perception that fitness without any equipment is not something that can be achieved successfully. This is a million miles away from the truth. You don't need any fitness equipment to become fitter, stronger, or slimmer. Your own body is one of the best pieces of fitness equipment that you have. You can reach extremely high levels of fitness using nothing but your body.

Take a look at the sport of boxing. It is only over the last few years that boxers have started using weights or weight machines to train. A few years ago 99% of their training consisted of using their own body for their training. Boxers would get up in the early hours and run the streets, not use a treadmill at lunch time. They would spend many hours a week doing push ups, sit ups, chin ups, stretching, shadow boxing, and a whole host of other body weight exercises. Boxers are warriors and they reach warrior status without any equipment. Boxers have the fittest and most durable physiques in sport.

Let's think about soldiers for a sec...To become a soldier is no mean feat, the training is extremely tough. The bulk of a soldiers training consists of exercising without equipment. They spend hours running over rough terrain carrying equipment and heavy backpacks. They spend months doing circuit training consisting of SWIMMING...YES, SWIMMING, push ups, chin ups, sit ups, and various other exercises. Nobody can say that a soldier is not an extremely fit individual.

Yes, you will build muscle and strength through swimming..


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