Which Muscles Do I Build While Swimming?

Do you love swimming? If so, you’re not alone. Ranked just behind running as one of the nations five most popular activities, swimming offers a means of exercise and enjoyment for people of all ages. From young kids just getting a feel for the water to senior citizens who use the sport to say active, limber, and agile, swimming is something that can offer an array of benefits to an array of people.

7 Reasons Why Swimming Is A Great Sport

If you’ve been a lifelong advocate of swimming, then we don’t need to convince you why the sport is one of the best on the planet. However, if you’re still unsure whether or not swimming is for you, perhaps the following information can change your mind. Check out the top 7 reasons swimming might be a great sport for you:

  1. The buoyancy of the water diminishes the demands of gravity, which makes it the ideal low-impact sport for people looking to put little stress on bones and joints.
  2. Instead of running several miles with very few burned calories to prove for it, in just an hour of swimming you can burn 500 calories or more.
  3. As odd as it may seem, swimming has been shown to help encourage smokers to stop the harmful habit.
  4. Swimming is a welcoming sport for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. You don’t have to be a professional athlete or have any special skill to participate. Whether you’re a beginner or have been swimming for years, the sport encourages everyone to come as they are.
  5. Swimming is a great cardio workout and often considered to be the best aerobic sport. Between improved breath control and better blood circulation, you’ll find that your entire cardiovascular health can be improved through swimming.
  6. Unlike sports such as basketball, football, running, and skiing, you won’t find yourself needing to retire from swimming as you age. The low-impact nature of swimming makes it a lifetime sport that will almost always be an option.
  7. Lastly, one of the greatest perks of swimming is that it offers a total-body workout. From toning your arms and legs to sculpting your back and abs, the swimming muscles you’ll build are unlike anything else.
build swimming muscles

Photo Credit: Vac1

In this article, we’re going to focus on the last of swimming’s benefits: its full-body workout. It’s one thing to know you’re getting great exercise when swimming, but it’s something else entirely when you know exactly what muscles you’re building while enjoying the sport. So, what muscles does swimming work? Keep reading to learn about the swimming muscles you’ll work and build with each type of swimming stroke.

Swimming Muscles Used With Breaststroke

As the easiest stroke for first-time and amateur swimmers, breaststroke comes naturally to most people. The scooping-and-streamlining arms and “frog” kick make it an easy, comfortable, and effective stroke for many swimmers to master. The muscles used in swimming breaststroke are:

  • Hand muscles
  • Forearm flexor and extensor muscles
  • Biceps, triceps, and deltoids
  • Neck muscles
  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • Spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor muscles
  • Rhomboid major and minor muscles
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles
  • Hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Calf muscles

In order to do breaststroke properly, every aspect of the body must be engaged. Therefore, in addition to the aforementioned areas, you’ll also be working muscles you maybe never knew you had such as shin and various foot muscles. Check out this video to see these muscles in action.

Swimming Muscles Used With Backstroke and Freestyle

As the second easiest stroke to master, backstroke also comes naturally to many swimmers. Interestingly enough, because they are almost identical in body movements, backstroke and freestyle use almost the exact same muscles. Where the two differ comes in how the strokes are performed. As its name suggests, backstroke, also known as the back crawl, is done on your back. Freestyle, or front crawl, is done on your stomach. Both strokes use the following muscles:

  • Hand muscles
  • Forearm flexor and extensor muscle
  • Biceps, triceps, and deltoids
  • Shoulder muscles
  • Neck muscles
  • Chest muscles
  • Side muscles
  • Outer abdominal muscles
  • Inner abdominal muscles
  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor
  • Rhomboid major and minor
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles

Similar to breaststroke, freestyle and backstroke also engage muscles in the feet, shins, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. You can watch the muscles working in both backstroke and freestyle.

Swimming Muscles Used With Butterfly

Notorious for being the most difficult of the four strokes, the butterfly is both physically demanding and strenuous on the body. In order to properly propel yourself, the muscles in your upper body, back, and legs must be fully engaged. In addition to some of the minor muscles mentioned in breaststroke, freestyle, and backstroke, the key muscles used in butterfly include:

  • Back muscles
  • Trapezius muscles
  • Spinal cord support muscles
  • Teres major and minor
  • Rhomboid major and minor
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Groin muscles
  • Hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Calf muscles
  • Several different foot muscles

Watch all these muscles in action in this video. If you’re interested in the full-body workout swimming provides, sign up for one of our classes today.