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Beyond their incredible work ethic and speed, swimmers are often known for having a lean, muscular “swimmer’s body.” It’s often a result of the hard work they put into their training, nutrition and recovery.
But it’s important to acknowledge that there’s no such thing as one “best” swimmer’s body. If you swim, you’re a swimmer and you have a swimmer’s body! Read on for our tips to get stronger, improve your flexibility and refine your nutrition so your body is ready for whatever your swim training brings.
Why Are Some Swimmers So Cut?
Swimming burns tons of calories, and it works every muscle in your body! Water is 800 times more dense than air, so you’re working against resistance with every stroke.
Swim training volume and intensity, along with dryland training and nutrition play a role in a swimmer’s physique. Simply put, swimmers put in hours and hours of work — sometimes 20-30 hours per week at an elite level! Some swimmers have really cut bodies thanks to their genetics, too.
But swimmers didn’t always look as jacked as they do these days. In the early days of the sport, the focus was on swimming as much as possible (sometimes up to 100km per week!), so athletes were very thin. As coaches refined their knowledge of the sport and identified the best training modalities, swimmers’ physiques changed and became what we commonly see today.
These days, swimmers focus on quality training over quantity, splitting their time between the pool and weight room.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Swimmer Body
Ready to strengthen your swimmer body for optimal performance? Start with these five tips.
1. High Intensity Workouts
A few decades ago, swimming was all about high volume — people swam lots of yardage! These days, it’s more about the intensity. Swimming high intensity workouts will help you get used to swimming at a faster pace (which is helpful for racing), and can help you burn more calories.
Mix up your workouts so you hit a variety of energy zones and engage both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. If you need guidance on how to structure your swim workouts, download the MySwimPro app! Get your personalized Training Plan with MySwimPro Coach >
Think of your body like a race car. You wouldn’t put just any old fuel in it! When you’re working hard in the pool, you need to make sure you’re eating enough high-quality, healthy foods to maintain your body composition and help your muscles grow.
But we get it, you’re busy, and you don’t always have the time to keep your nutrition 100% on point. That’s where Athletic Greens comes in!
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Your nutrition can make or break your progress and performance. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and staying healthy! Check out our interview with a registered dietitian for examples of healthy pre-and post-workout meals >
3. Endurance Training
Swimming is the king of endurance training. Because it’s low impact, you can swim for longer time periods more consistently than more high-impact sports like running.
When you train in different heart rate zones, you can increase your endurance over time and maximize your calorie burn during each workout. To maintain your endurance, you need to stay consistent with your training. Shoot for three or more swims per week!
Plus, endurance training translates into real life — you won’t feel as tired walking up a flight of stairs, or you can go for a bike ride or a long walk without getting fatigued.
When you think of swimming performance, flexibility might not seem like the most important thing, but it plays a huge role in muscle engagement and injury prevention.
When you incorporate a dynamic warm up before your workouts and static stretching after your workouts, you are not only loosening up your muscles, but you’re also working to correct muscle imbalances that can cause injuries over time. It may feel tedious to get your stretching in, but trust us: your body will thank you!
5. Strength Training
Last but not least, we have to talk about strength training, better known as dryland training among swimmers.
Why do strength training? The answer is simple: you can only work your muscles so much in the water. Adding resistance out of the water, in the form of bodyweight, resistance bands or weights, can help you build more strength, challenge your muscles in new ways and can help prevent injury.
Consistent dryland training can help you build a strong core and develop power in your upper and lower body, which translates to fast starts and turns, a faster kick and a more efficient pull. Try incorporating 2-3 dryland sessions into your training each week!
How do you maintain a strong swimmer’s body? Let us know your favorite tips, tricks and workouts in the comments! Click here to try Athletic Greens & boost your nutrition! >