Swimming is one of those activities that often gets overlooked for its fitness benefits. That’s often because it’s a lot of fun, so often doesn’t feel like an intense activity that will help build muscle or improve your cardiovascular fitness. This is a misconception though, as swimming is one of the best exercises for a full-body, low-impact workout. The reason being that it offers the ability to work all your major muscle groups without any harsh impact to your skeletal system.
Let’s take a look at why this is and how we can use swimming to build and tone muscle while dropping calories all year long. Here are our top tips on how swimming can get you ripped.
1. Swimming can be done all year
So the first major benefit is that you can go swimming all year round. Due to most pools being inside you don’t have to worry when it’s raining or if it’s too cold. You won’t have to worry on those blistering hot days when there is no breeze. This is great as you can get a swimming session into your weekly schedule and never have to put it off or miss out on a session.
2. Improved flexibility
This is one of the main benefits of swimming. When in the gym, you often use machines to isolate various muscles. Although this is good for promoting muscle growth, it can lead to imbalances and joint pain. Swimming, on the other hand, works a multitude of muscles in the body, and the range of movement in your arms and legs is extensive.
This means it can improve your flexibility, but also get rid of any joint problems you might have developed. All of this means that, when you do get back in the gym, you’ll be able to make the most of your workouts.
3. Reducing body fat
Swimming is an intense cardiovascular exercise which will help you burn a lot of calories. This, in turn, will help you lower your body fat percentage and bring out muscle definition that’s integral to that ripped look.
4. Improving general fitness
As previously stated, swimming is a great way to keep up your cardiovascular fitness, and this, in turn, will have a positive effect on your workouts in the gym. You’ll find you can work out harder and for longer as your body is better able to deal with the intensity.
5. Improving muscle toning
Swimming, obviously, uses our muscles. The best thing about swimming is the number of muscles it works. Depending on the stroke, you’ll be using your arms, legs, and core strength at all times to propel yourself through the water. As it’s long sustained usage, this is perfect for toning your muscles.
6. Providing low impact exercise
Good swimming means fluid movements, and, as previously mentioned, this is great for your joints. It’s also low-impact, so won’t exacerbate any existing problems you might have with your knees for example.
7. Helping you exercise through injuries
If you’re already injured or have some long-term joint or back complaints, swimming can be a great way to get exercise without worsening them. It can even help to alleviate discomfort. Whilst swimming, our bodies are supported by the water, and this, coupled with the use of core muscles, is great for solving any back complaints you might have.
8. Using swimming in conjunction with other exercises
Swimming alone probably isn’t enough to get you ripped. It will help to tone your muscles and bring down your body fat percentage, but you’ll still need to keep lifting. You can either alternate between lifting and swimming, or integrate swimming into your existing routine.
There are a number of personal trainers out there who advocate for combining swimming with a number of resistance exercises. For example, you can swim a length of the pool, get out and do some press-ups, then return to the pool for another length and repeat.
9. Using swimming in conjunction with the right diet
Although this isn’t specifically a way in which swimming can help you get ripped, it’s important to highlight that any exercise needs to be done with a diet plan in mind. Whether you’re looking to cut your body fat percentage, or build muscle, you need to pay attention to what you eat.
In order to lower your body fat percentage, you’ll need to eat fewer calories than you burn on a regular basis. Eating lean sources of protein is another must, as this will help you maintain muscle.
10. Mixing up your workouts
Our bodies are incredibly adaptable, and you might find that if you’ve stuck to the same routine for a number of weeks of months, you’ve stopped seeing improvements. This is because our bodies get used to certain exercises very quickly, especially if they’re very repetitive. Adding in swimming to your routine can help to shock your body into building more muscle and improving your overall fitness.
11. It doesn’t just have to be swimming
The best bit about exercising in and around a pool is that it doesn’t mean you just have to swim length after length! There are many different exercises you can perform that will break up your routine and keep everything fresh, let’s have a look into some of those now.
- Water Running – Now you may think this won’t really do much as you won’t be moving very fast but it actually provides you with a high-intensity cardio workout, the main difference to a normal jog is that you will move slower but also reduce the impact on your joints. Ideally, the water level should be just below neck height and you will want to run as you normally would, back straight, arms bent and going all out. If you do this for 5 minutes in sets of 3 you will realise how difficult it can be. If you want to increase the difficulty and intensity you can always add some hand paddles.
- Core and Leg toning – This is a great exercise to help tone your legs and core. What you need to do is keep your back against the side of the pool whilst holding on to the sides with your arms. Then you need to raise your legs up straight in front of you and lower them back to the starting position. As long as you do this in a controlled manner then you will get benefits from Again to improve on this you can always add another stage in and after raising your legs, spread them out into a V shape and then back together. A good target is to do 3 sets of 20 reps.
- Trading water – This seems too easy to be of any use but actually, if you vigorously tread water you can burn a decent amount of calories. You can also make it harder by holding one leg up in a crouched position leaving only one leg to work and then switch.
- The ‘Otter Roll’ – This one is one of my favourites, you need a medium sized beach ball to help. Lie flat on your back in the pool with the ball held to your chest then as you would think, just roll over. This will work out muscles in your legs, abs, back and shoulders as you work to get yourself the back the right way up. Just make sure to take breaths before going around again!
- Small concise strokes – If you float in the pool and bring your toes just out of the water so you look like a human V. Then with your hands held by your hips make small circular movements to move your self. You can aim to do a length or width of the pool and the repeat.
12. Finally…It’s just fun!
This is a really important one for if you’re lacking motivation in the gym. Just like how our bodies get used to certain types of exercise and we stop seeing progress, our minds can get bored as well. This is why it’s important to mix things up frequently to keep both your mind and body interests and on their toes.
Swimming is a great way to do this because it’s often a very peaceful and enjoyable exercise. Focusing on breathing and technique can take our minds off the passing of time, and provide both mental and physical benefits. This might be just what you need if your workouts are lacking that drive you used to have when you first entered the gym. Once you start to see results, you’ll be spurred on and motivated once again!
Hopefully, this list has inspired you to go find your local swimming pool, get in the water and add some swimming sessions to your fitness routine. For you lucky readers that have their own swimming pool at home, this is even easier. The benefits really are extraordinary, both physically and mentally, so swimming will make a great addition alongside your resistance training to help you build more muscle, and get that ripped look.