Swimming is an activity that has been proven time and again that it can provide us with loads of health benefits. Among other things, it develops endurance, strength, tones the muscles, and it is a great way to keep the heart rates up.
If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle swimming might be one of the best activities that you can add to your daily regiment, but how good is swimming when it comes to building muscle mass?
Swimming can develop and tone the muscles in certain areas of the body. It’s a good way to stay fit and lean while not placing too much strain on your joints. However, swimming alone is not going to build muscle mass as fast or as much as regular strength training.
Besides, swimming can lead to better cardiovascular endurance, lower body fat percentage, and increased strength.
Swimming is not like going to the gym, and that’s okay. Still, everyone, who is looking to build some muscle mass, will discover that it can be done successfully while incorporating swimming into their training routine.
And as you will find out, swimming can actually have some unique benefits when it comes to sculpting the perfect body.
Can Swimming Really Build Muscle Mass?
So, how does swimming compare when it comes down to inducing hypertrophy?
When considering its various aspects, we can see that swimming is a cardio workout and not an exercise that is based on weight training. Nonetheless, it can still promote muscle mass in the various parts that are being put under most tension.
Swimming is an excellent way to stay lean and toned. However, it cannot completely replace the benefits of strength training when it comes to building muscle mass. While training with weights, the focus is placed on promoting hypertrophy (the muscle building process), and swimming is, fundamentally, a different type of exercise.
To better illustrate this, imagine the following two activities – walking and doing squats. While both are incorporating the use of your leg muscles, there is no denying that doing squats will lead to better muscle gains.
Despite that, do not feel discouraged as swimming will definitely lead to toning your muscles and promoting muscle growth in some areas. It is essential to know which are these areas and how to properly incorporate strength training for growing the muscles that are not primarily being used when swimming.
This is the recommended way to go if you are a big fan of swimming. While swimming might not be able to compare to the intensity that can be achieved by strength training, it can be used in combination with it to sculpt a great looking body with a great v-taper.
What Muscles Will Swimming Help Develop
Take a look at most of the professional swimmers’ bodies. What do you see?
Typically they have:
- Very broad shoulders (they are mainly well developed in that area).
- Big and wide chest and back.
- Toned core section.
Swimming, in particular, is very good at toning and building these areas of the body; therefore you can expect to see some excellent long term results in those areas if you frequently go swimming.
Depending on how you swim, you will be using different muscle groups to a different extent. The most common muscles you will be using, while swimming, are:
- The hand and forearm muscles, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back muscles, trapezius muscles, erector spinae, chest muscles, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quads as well as calves, and more.
This means that swimming can easily be considered a whole-body exercise, and you will be hitting almost every muscle in the body to a certain extent.
Can You Lose Muscle from Swimming
Muscle mass can be lost through swimming. However, this is not going to be primarily due to the swimming itself. Being a physical activity, the chances are that swimming will build muscle mass, but there can be exceptions to the rule.
Muscle can be lost due to several reasons:
- Training too much and not resting enough. For the muscles to grow, they need a certain time to recover. If that time is not provided over a long enough period, a person can get into overtraining and suffer from muscle loss.
- Not getting enough hours of good and quality sleep can also be very detrimental to gaining any muscle mass.
- Not having proper nutrition. Not eating enough calories to meet your daily caloric needs or not providing the body with enough protein can all have a negative impact on
the muscleprotein synthesis, ultimately leading to muscle loss.
- Disproportionate amounts of stress can lead to higher amounts of cortisol and have an overall negative impact on health.
Whether or not you will be facing muscle loss will be a question of lifestyle, and how much is too much, and that will vary significantly from person to person.
3 Main Things You Can Do To Grow Muscle Mass
Muscles will not grow on their own. There needs to be a reason in the first place that will force the body to adapt and build muscle.
Physical training does precisely that. For example, when we lift weights, we send a signal to our body that it needs to find a way to deal with the new stimuli.
When we go to the gym and train, we are essentially breaking down the muscles, creating very tiny microtraumas to its fibers. Then when we rest, the body responds by starting to recover from these traumas that we have created. This is the infamous muscle soreness we all feel after a hard training session.
While the body recovers, the muscles fibers can grow in size and number – this is known as hypertrophy training, and this is the best way to build muscle.
1. Physical Training
As we mentioned, muscles need external stimuli through strength training that will promote muscle growth. This is the first and most important factor when it comes to gaining muscle size.
When we start training, we need to provide the building blocks to our body to rebuild the muscles and recover properly.
There are two major aspects when it comes to nutrition and building muscle:
- Consuming enough calories each day to stay in a caloric surplus. What this means is that you need to eat more calories than you burn each day. Staying in a slight caloric surplus will ensure that the body is not burning its own reserves and has enough energy dedicated to recovering.
- Consuming enough amount of protein. Scientists have been trying to find what is the optimal amount of protein consumption for athletes for a long time now. And we have gathered a lot of data throughout the years. Without appropriate protein consumption, the body will not have the building blocks it needs to recover from each training session fully. The recommended amount of protein consumption is between 1.3 to 1.8 grams per kg, which needs to be consumed in 3-4 meals in order to have optimal muscle protein synthesis.
Another, frequently underestimated, aspect of building muscle mass is giving the body enough time to recover.
This is achieved by having enough of a break between the different training sessions of each muscle and providing yourself with enough good quality sleep each night. Sleep timing is also crucial, as going to bed late, as well as waking up late have been connected with different adverse health effects.
Swimming for Rehabilitation
Swimming can be quite helpful for rehabilitation. Swimming and various exercise performed in the water are frequently used during the rehab process.
Swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises, as it does not place much stress on the joints and ligaments. It is especially useful for reducing the weight that is being bared by the hips, knees, and ankles. Even when compared to walking, swimming is better in terms of how easy it can be on the body, especially when recovering from an injury.
Being active after an injury is very important as this promotes faster recovery. When it comes to swimming, there are a great variety of exercises that will meet anyone’s requirements and fitness level.