Target and Tone: Swimming Tips and Exercises that Target Your Muscles


If you want to get huge muscle mass, swimming might not be the first thing that you think of. Lifting weights and taking HIIT classes might be the first things that come to mind, but they’re certainly not your only options. If your gym has a pool, try spending some time there to get a great mix of cardio and weight training in. Overwhelmed by all of the exercises you can do? Here are a few simple tips or exercises that you can use to get the most out of your pool workouts.

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Target One Muscle Group

Swimming can be an entire body workout, but it doesn’t always have to be. If you use gear, like a kick-board or pull buoy, you can isolate muscle groups like your abs, legs, or shoulder muscles. Separating these muscle groups helps you work on groups you usually wouldn’t be able to work out on land. Especially for drills that use the muscles in your back and shoulders, you’re sure to get a unique toning experience that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. For example, you can work your abs with exercises like butterfly (or dolphin) kick and flutter kick, where you rest your upper body on a kickboard and swim to your heart’s content.

Treat Swimming Like Cross Training

While swimming is great for gaining muscle mass, it shouldn’t completely replace going to the gym. Swimming twice a week and weightlifting two or three days a week is a great balance to have between disciplines. Just be sure to get a day or two of rest every week to help your muscles recover!

Make Needed Modifications

Are you just starting to swim? Try making a few modifications to help you get started. Using gear, like kickboards and pull buoys, does more than help you target specific muscle groups. It also makes it easier for you to do a handful of exercises. For example, if you’re having trouble doing breath training exercises, sprints, or timed activities, try donning a pair of fins to make it a little bit easier.

Water Exercises Off the Beaten Path

Now that you’ve got a few general tips in mind try some of these exercises to get you started in the pool. From drill sets to jogging in the water, there is always something new to do! Like any other workout plan, switching up your exercises and varying what you do is the key to getting strong and getting better.

Aqua Jogging

Get those water shoes on and get jogging! While the concept sounds easy enough, the resistance combined with the simple act of running is a great way to tone your muscles. The muscle groups that this exercise works include the quads and the abs, since you’ve got to tighten your abs to pull this move off.

Water Crunches

Like crunches, but in the water, water crunches involve you laying on your back, with your calves laying parallel on the pool deck. Like any other crunch you would do on land, reach out to touch your toes before using your ab muscles to lower yourself back in the water. Swim coaches recommend doing three sets of 12-20 reps per set, depending on your fitness level.

Sprint Sets

Like the intensity of HIIT classes, but not the sweat? Try doing variable speed sets! Need an example of what a set might look like? Try alternating two strokes, like backstroke and crawl for instance, in a set of increasingly fast 100-meter sprints. To measure time, you can either time your sets on an “interval,” where you would go every two hours, for example, or based on seconds of rest. Either way, the alternating of the two strokes combined with the increased speed can do wonders for your muscle growth.

Have questions about any of these tips? Want to learn more about how to do these exercises? Leave a comment down below!

Swimming might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of gaining muscle–but a half hour in the pool with some of these tips can work wonders for your muscle mass.


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