By Coach Sam W, MV3.
When it comes to an overall workout, there is nothing that compares to swimming. Cardio, strength and range of motion are all vital parts of swimming. Nobody has ever completed a full swim workout and hopped out of the pool feeling great. It tears you down and wipes you out, but we always come back for more because the long-term effects are so incredible. Increased lung capacity, muscular endurance, flexibility and strength are all examples of some great benefits that come out of swimming. So exactly what muscles are you using during swim practice? Let’s take a look!
1. Heart and Lungs
YES, your heart and lungs are muscles! These two “involuntary muscles” are VERY important to your body’s general functioning. A long-term effect of regular swimming is that you will have a lower resting pulse and breathing rate. A slower pulse is a sign that your heart is stronger and capable of pumping more blood with each contraction. The lower breathing rate reflects the increased lung capacity and efficiency that comes from exercise. Regular swimming has even been beneficial for those with lung problems such as asthma.
2. Core Muscles
Your core muscle group works hard stabilizing your spine every time you are afloat in the water. The core stabilizes your hip and upper-body movements and you can more effectively maintain a streamlined form with stronger core muscles. Stronger core muscles enhance the overall efficiency of your stroke by improving energy transference between your upper and lower body, which helps your body work as a single unit. The core includes your inner and outer abdominal, lower back and hip muscles.
3. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
As you move through the water using a standard stroke such as the freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke or butterfly, you’re using virtually all your muscles from head to toe. As you extend and retract your shoulders during the power and recovery phases, upper-body muscles that you’ll use include your pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps and wrist flexors. While your legs produce a propelling force as you kick, lower-body muscles that are being activated include your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
Whether you swim to build muscle, burn fat, or just to have fun, this full-body activity can greatly improve your health in several ways. Swimming increases your flexibility, lessens your risk of disease, improves your endurance and even regulates your body’s cholesterol levels. Swimming also has emotional well-being benefits. The repetitive nature of the activity can help clear your mind and, as you move through the water, your body releases endorphins to improve your mood.
Overall, swimming workouts use just about every muscle in your body and regular swimming has been proven to have many beneficial effects on your health, mindset, and life. So…see you on deck!