What's up Steemians :)
As I have already mentioned in my "introduce yourself" post, I am really keen on sports. One of my favorite if not the most favorite sport is swimming. I've started training swimming back in 2005. when I was only 4 years of age. From that time, I've really fallen in love with the sport. Although I'm not competing that much (due to my laziness, those training sessions early in the morning have never really been a friend of mine) any more I still do research and try to improve my swimming technique as well as my conditioning. Question that is asked so frequently by both non-swimmers and people who recently got into swimming is as the title of this post says: "Does swimming build muscle?". So today I'm going to try and do my best to explain this.
In past 20 years swimming has gotten much more popular. We didn't have such a great swimmer like Michael Phelps since the era of Mark Spitz. Ian Thrope and Aleksandr Popov were quite good though. Being honest I think that Michael has done so much for the sport of swimming, but swimming also gave him the life he could only dream about when he started training. Although, Michael is not only the greatest swimmer but the greatest olimpian of all time let's not forget his fellow Ryan Lochte who has improved alongside Phelps and the Hungarian beast László Cseh. These three swimmers have really marked last 15-20 years in swimming. And now there is a new world class swimmer, Caeleb Dressel. What all of them and most swimmers have in common is that aesthetic body type. So the question is does swimming really build that much muscle or swimmers pump iron just like everybody else?
Why swimming is great?
Unlike running, swimming is low to no-impact sport which means that swimming isn't putting that much stress on your joints. If you have gone for a long run you have probably felt the pain in your knees and ankles. That's where swimming comes in. Just like running swimming is a great cardio-vascular exercise and it also works your whole body musculature and puts less stress on your joints. Swimming is great for top level athletes as well as for people who train recreationally or haven't been in training process at all. It's especially recommended for people who are older or overweight people.
As we have already mentioned swimming is a great cardio-vascular exercise. It has got a great calorie-burning potential, but swimming also increases the capacity of one's lungs. Swimmers body is used to using oxygen more efficiently. This helps in lowering blood pressure. Also, swimmers have got lower heart rates when they are resting. By improving lung capacity in swimming you are also better conditioned for other sports. I don't play basketball that much. But friend of mine who used to train basketball and now trains swimming with me has joined me and my friends from school for a few basketball games. After one and a half to two hours of playing all of them were dead tired, while two of use were ready to play for an hour more. That's when we realized the true benefits of swimming and increased lung capacity. You'll be able to run faster for longer distances.
In the gym by lifting weights and using all sorts of machines you can hit almost every muscle. But there are muscles in the body that you just can't target and use in the proper way unless if you swim. That's why swimmers have got such a specific body type. Of course with machines you can target some of those muscles, but looking from the perspective of functional training it's way better to activate and work those muscles swimming.
Am I going to have a competitive swimmer body just by swimming?
Muscle is built through overcoming resistance. In the sport of swimming there's not enough resistance for somebody who has already got some lean muscle mass to build more muscle. Of course you may see the slightest change but nothing much. Swimming will surely help you in reducing your body fat though which also impacts the aesthetic of your body. What may happen to you is that your power muscle fiber may turn into endurance muscle fiber. This happens because of the repetitive motions with light resistance that swimming offers. When it comes to building muscles, pumping iron is much more effective. You can choose the resistance (depending on your level of strength) and work the muscles the way you want to. But that doesn't mean that you can't include swimming in your training routine. As we have already discussed it has got many benefits and you'll definitely feel healthier overall. So will swimming get you jacked? In a nutshell - no.
How to take the most out of swimming?
There are some accessories that can be used to make swimming more complex and tougher. While swimming you are going to work your core muscles whether you want to or not. But when it comes to trying to target your upper or lower body here are some tricks you can use.
For targeting your lower body muscles I recommend using a kickboard. Kickboard isolates your leg muscles and creates more resistance. Instead of the kickboard you can also use swimming fins to activate your leg muscles way more. It would also be a great idea to combine the two. If this is still to easy for you, you can tie a rope around your waist and hook a sponge to it.
If you are willing to target your upper body muscles you need to implement the same logic. First thing we can do is try to isolate our leg muscles. We can do so buy using pull-buoy. You simply put it between your legs and hold it while swimming. Second thing we can do is to put more resistance on our arms and upper body buy widening the surface of our palm. We can do so by using hand paddles. Just like when training lower body we can combine the two and if it's still to easy add a sponge.
You are not going to have a Greek god body just by swimming. Competitive swimmers have their gym sessions every single day. But is swimming going to pack on some muscle? Definitely yes! Do I recommend swimming? Yes! Swimming can do wonders when it comes to weight loss, improving lung capacity, lowering blood pressure, conditioning, removing stress from joints..All in all, it's going to improve your health drastically in general. Till next time, keep swimming guys! @markex