The “swimmer body” is one of the most sought after physiques in the world: The slim frame, v-shaped torso and six-pack abs are the picture of strength, athleticism and beauty.

If you want to shed extra pounds and reveal your own swimmer body, keep reading to learn how to achieve (and maintain) a ripped physique with the help of swimming. 

You don’t have to do a crazy crash diet to get abs…our tips will help you move toward your dream body in a healthy, sustainable way. First, let’s dive into the basics.

4 Ways to Get Six-Pack Abs

As you may have realized, getting and keeping six-pack abs is not easy. Here’s a look at what it takes to achieve this coveted physique. 

A Low Body Fat Percentage

To see visible abs, you need to have a lower body fat percentage. Generally, for men abs are visible around 10-15% body fat. For women, abs are typically visible at 15-20% body fat. 

Everyone has abs! But the fat that sits on top of them may be obscuring them for the time being. 

Proper Nutrition

It’s common to hear that “abs are made in the kitchen.” And it’s true! If you want to maintain a lower body fat percentage and see visible abs, watching what you eat is a must. 

If you need to lose a bit of weight to reveal your abs, it can be helpful to count macros (protein, carbs and fat) to make sure you’re hitting your calorie goals for the day and getting all the nutrients you need. 

It can be helpful to remember the “calories in vs. calories out” concept when planning for weight loss. When the amount of calories you consume from food are less than the calories you burn from exercise, you create a calorie deficit that helps you lose weight. 

Check out Mike’s story to learn how swimming and a health diet helped him lose 100 pounds in one year!

Enough Exercise

While nutrition plays a big role in those abs showing up, so does exercise! The swimmers with the best physiques do a mix of intense swim training with heavy sessions in the gym to build muscle and torch body fat. 

You can’t do cardio alone and expect to have abs. Mixing in strength training is key to creating the muscles we all want to show off! If you’re new to dryland workouts, try adding two sessions per week to your training plan, and adjust from there as your body adapts. 


Maintaining a ripped physique takes consistency over months and years. If you want to keep your visible abs for years to come, you’ll need to make lifestyle changes and work hard in the pool and gym. Keep your diet dialed in, and stick to a consistent workout routine. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy. 

How to Get a Six-Pack With Swimming

Before we dive into the specifics, first we need to have a quick reality check:

Swimming makes you REALLY hungry. To keep your nutrition in check, make sure to have healthy options on hand for after workouts to make sure you follow your diet plan. Get examples of pre- and post-workout meals here.

Swimming is not going to build muscle as fast as other exercise. Swimming is generally considered cardio exercise. And while it’s amazing for your health on so many levels, it is best done alongside a strength training program in the gym or at home. 

Swimming does not burn as many calories as other exercise. While it does burn a ton of calories, swim workouts may not be the biggest bang for your buck calorie-burn wise. Keep that in mind when planning workouts and nutrition. 

Ok, so how do you get ripped from swimming? It comes down to two things: Frequency and optimizing muscle activation.


Like we mentioned above, consistency is key when it comes to physique changes. Try to stick to a swimming schedule each week – we recommend at least two to three sessions to see the most improvement. 

Check out the MySwimPro app for personalized Training Plans designed for your goals. Try the Beginner Weight Loss plan for focused, fat-burning workouts! 

Muscle Activation

When you swim, it’s important to ensure you’re engaging all of your muscles to the best of your ability. This maximizes calorie burn and helps improve your overall technique.

We can break muscle activation into three categories:

  • Technique: Incorporate drills into each workout to refine your technique and improve your swimming efficiency. When your technique is on point, you can swim further without getting tired.
  • Resistance: Adding equipment like fins, paddles, parachutes and more can increase muscle engagement and make your workouts more challenging. Be careful to not overuse your equipment though…you don’t want to become reliant on it!
  • Variety: To get the best workout, be sure to vary your Effort Levels, intervals, paces, strokes and distances. Don’t swim the same workout over and over and expect to get results!

If you want to get shredded, swimming is a great addition to your workout plan. When combined with a proper diet, strength training and a whole lot of consistency, swimming can help you transform your body and your health for the long haul. 

If you’re ready to start your swimming journey, download the MySwimPro app and check out your personalized Training Plan!



  1. I am 72. Have have severe arthritis and will be having knee replacement surgery in two months. How can I best strengthen my hips, knees and leg muscles to prepare for the surgery. I swim 3 or 4 times each week for approximately 75 minutes.

    • Taylor Holmes on

      Hi Cathleen, for specific pre-surgery strength exercises, we recommend working directly with a physical therapist or personal trainer. They’ll have the knowledge and expertise needed to create a plan that best suits you and your needs!

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