Wonder how Michael Phelps got that great, shredded body with those abs! Well, he swims every day!
After this busy season of culinary delights, “weight gain” is perhaps not what you were looking forward to… Let’s try to reverse the trend and sculpt our bodies just the way we want! Swimming, the top dog when it comes to versatile sports, will be the best and the most enjoyable part of our muscle-building strategy.
1. Swim to Improve Your Muscles
Swimming works on all the muscle groups of our bodies in a balanced and uniform way. Again, not all strokes provide the same benefit. So by varying the swimming exercises, we can focus on the muscles that we want to develop in particular.
Breaststroke stands out from other strokes with the coordination of its movements. Thanks to this specific mechanism of traction and scissors, it perfectly tones your lower limbs (quadriceps, glutes, thighs), as well as your upper limbs (biceps, pectorals, shoulders, abs).
The front crawl and the backstroke are very similar strokes as they are the two standard alternating strokes. They deeply work the same muscle groups (shoulders, back, triceps, abs). In backstroke, however, leg work is paramount and therefore burns significant calories in the lower body and abs.
The butterfly stroke is the most “athletic” stroke. Often reserved for seasoned swimmers, it requires a certain technique so as not to wear out the lumbar muscles. It is a difficult but very effective stroke to sculpt your shoulders, back, and abs.
Finally, to concentrate more precisely on the muscle group of your choice, feel free to use suitable equipment: a kickboard and fins to tone the legs and abs, swim paddles and a pullbuoy to develop upper body muscles.
It is important to vary the strokes and exercises to work all the muscles of your body to sculpt it harmoniously, just as you wish!
2. “Swimmers' Muscles”
Like many athletes, swimmers are physically distinguishable due to parts of their bodies being more developed than others, in connection with the muscles used the most when swimming.
For swimmers, you will generally find that they have a "V-shaped" body due to the extensive use of back muscles when swimming. They are key muscles for swimming, making it possible to push against and pull through large quantities of water. Let's say swimmers just have wings for them to glide in water.
For swimmers, the triceps and shoulder muscles are also ever-present in all strokes, when the shoulders roll to initiate movement, but also and especially when pulling water. They are therefore some of the most developed muscles in swimmers.
Swimmers' abs are also often very prominent due to the core muscle strength required by swimming. In order to remain as hydrodynamic as possible and reduce drag, swimmers must strengthen their abdominal muscles to a maximum.
The secondary muscles are the leg muscles, the biceps, and the pectorals. They are used very often, but with varying degrees of intensity depending on the stroke.
“But what if I don't want to look like a swimmer?” I hear you say!
Do not forget that swimmers, and particularly competition swimmers, train with the aim of swimming faster and longer. Some of their exercises are therefore specific to their specialty strokes, their favourite distances and other criteria that develop certain muscles more than others.
Therefore by favouring certain strokes, exercises, and equipment, you can target precise muscle groups according to what you want and/or need to work on.