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  1. #1
    Registered User gigokk's Avatar
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    Question Can swimming build muscle??????

    Hello.
    Recently i had a shoulder injury, so my doctor told me to stop working out.
    Now i am recovering and the doc told me i cant yet do some weight lifting but i can swim, so i was wondering it this activity can build muscle or it will make me loose my progress????

    Thank you.
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  2. #2
    I haz Curlz ManWithCurls's Avatar
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    Swimming will not build muscle, it is a low impact activity with no progressive overload.

    Beginners may get some small functional muscle in the shoulder girdle area but it is nothing like that achieved with resistance exercise.

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  3. #3
    Registered User SENTY's Avatar
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    I have weights like bean bags that I strap to my wrists and ankles and they make any task like weight lifting. but i think you should wait and listen to your doctor, you only injured your shoulder you can always work the rest of your body?
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    Registered User ChristoBr94's Avatar
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    Swimming does in fact build muscle. Very lean muscle and you will lose a lot of fat from it. Yea it won't build muscle like weights but Swimming will greatly benefit your physique.
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    Off the wagon PeterGibbons316's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ChristoBr94 View Post
    Swimming does in fact build muscle. Very lean muscle and you will lose a lot of fat from it. Yea it won't build muscle like weights but Swimming will greatly benefit your physique.
    As opposed to weightlifting which builds fat muscle? Sorry, but you can't build "lean muscle". Swimming is more of a cardio workout and will not build muscle very effectively.
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    You won't get size, but you will get definition. It's very good for cardio and is easier on your joints than running.
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    RollBreadNation RollTideNation's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SENTY View Post
    I have weights like bean bags that I strap to my wrists and ankles and they make any task like weight lifting. but i think you should wait and listen to your doctor, you only injured your shoulder you can always work the rest of your body?
    That would be good for a cardio workout but not for building. Lifting heavy weights until you max out builds... You can't get bean bags heavy enough to max at 6-12 reps. But that's a very good idea for running.
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  8. #8
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    Im not sure about the technical side of this question but Ill say this: Living on the east coast I spend alot of time at the RI beaches in the summer and when I go in the water Ill swim for a few minutes at a good intensity and I get a little bit of a pump from it. lol
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    you will not build muscle but you will increase your endurance. if your goal is to get big i'd cut swimming out entirely because i boosts your metabolism like crazy. why do you think phelps is under 200 pounds even though he eats a **** ton.
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  10. #10
    Registered User bheckama's Avatar
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    Bump: Swimming doesn't tear up muscle like weights do, but perhaps it offers enough resistance that it will help maintain your muscle during a cut? If this is true it would be ideal for cutting phases where you can use it as HIIT to help reach you deficit. Example: sprinting (not long distance) mostly works out your legs, thus helps maintain your leg muscle. It seems like swimming would do this except for the whole body. Again you aren't building muscle, but you are maintaining it. When I get back to school I am going to incorporate swimming in because I am sure it will hit places that weights never touched, then again even if it doesn't, it is an excellent form of endurance training and hard as sh*t. With that said let's not forget that 80% of the equation is your calorie intake vs. expenditure. Shouldn't something also be said for the "swimmer body" as well?

    EDIT: Summary, Maintaining muscle whilst losing fat = awesome bod. I think swimming is a great tool/aide to do this in a cutting phase.
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  11. #11
    Registered User MarkHouston's Avatar
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    You would only build muscle if you hadn't swam or lifted weights consistently before, but it does seem to help maintain. I have gone significant periods without weight training and only swimming 5-6 days a week for 45 minutes or so, and never lost any muscle (only a bit of strength). I might not have anyway, there's no way to know.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by ChristoBr94 View Post
    Swimming does in fact build muscle. Very lean muscle and you will lose a lot of fat from it. Yea it won't build muscle like weights but Swimming will greatly benefit your physique.
    Its already been pointed out that swimming WILL build muscle, but probably not for a bodybuilder. Typical bodyfat levels of swimmers are significantly higher than runners or cyclists, who expend similar and even smaller amounts of energy during training. http://www.sportsci.org/news/compeat/fat.html
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    Originally Posted by JeepCreeper View Post
    Its already been pointed out that swimming WILL build muscle, but probably not for a bodybuilder. Typical bodyfat levels of swimmers are significantly higher than runners or cyclists, who expend similar and even smaller amounts of energy during training. http://www.sportsci.org/news/compeat/fat.html
    I'm curious, I think I remember reading somewhere where the low temperature of water might be the reason for this. I will post back if I find anything on this.

    EDIT: Haha, I opened your link right after I posted this. It mentions the water temperature theory .
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    Originally Posted by gigokk View Post
    Now i am recovering and the doc told me i cant yet do some weight lifting but i can swim, so i was wondering it this activity can build muscle or it will make me loose my progress????
    Never heard of even one bodybuilder who built mass by swimming.

    That said, if it's all you can do for now, then do what you can. When you recover adequately, and your doc gives you the green light to return to weight training, you should be able to regain anything you've lost. Among other things in your favor is your age.
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  15. #15
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    Swimming IMO is one of the best exercises for cardio I do 2 HIIT twice a week in the pool.. It tones your whole body aswell.. Wouldn't go as far as say it builds muscle though but for toning its great.. also gives your joints a rest after the impact from jogging
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    Well if you did swimming I think you'd probably lose mass much slower than if you did nothing at all, (assuming you continue to eat right.)
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    Originally Posted by NZninja101 View Post
    Well if you did swimming I think you'd probably lose mass much slower than if you did nothing at all, (assuming you continue to eat right.)
    the problem is the need to up calories. ask any college swimmer and they will tell you that even with four huge meals a day they still loose at least ten if not more pounds in season. i have a buddy who goes from 210 in the offseason to 185 in season. he isn't fat in the off season he just looses all the muscle because of the affects it has on your metabolism and the grueling 2 a day practices plus lifting. his case is extreme but you get the idea. again i reference phelps and his enormous calorie intake while still being under 200 pounds. unless you are on a cut then id stay the hell away from swimming.
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    I would go so far to say that while it probably won't build muscle in and of itself, it may help to strengthen secondary/support/stabilizer muscles that aid in other lifts.
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    Originally Posted by shifter2012 View Post
    the problem is the need to up calories. ask any college swimmer and they will tell you that even with four huge meals a day they still loose at least ten if not more pounds in season. i have a buddy who goes from 210 in the offseason to 185 in season. he isn't fat in the off season he just looses all the muscle because of the affects it has on your metabolism and the grueling 2 a day practices plus lifting. his case is extreme but you get the idea. again i reference phelps and his enormous calorie intake while still being under 200 pounds. unless you are on a cut then id stay the hell away from swimming.
    As long as you eat for it you will be fine. How do you know if you are eating enough? Easy, if you lose weight eat more. If your goal is to bulk, up your calorie intake until you are gaining .5-1 lb a week. Swimming won't rid you of muscle if you eat enough, plain and simple. That goes with any and all cardio. Swimming is a healthier alternative to jogging, however, because there is no impact on your joints.
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    Bloody hell just because swimming is a type of cardio doesn't mean you can't build muscles from it, if that case were true that you can't build muscle from any type of cardiovascular exercises than why do runners have big leg muscles? Why do cyclists have big leg muscles? Why do rowers have strong upper bodies? Granted it builds nowhere near as much muscle as weightlifting does but if your looking for the lean physique I would strongly recommend it
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    lean muscle, not bulky or big like a bodybuilder, its lean muscle you will build from swimming hours of laps, so if you swim expect to gain cuts and have a lean physique
    i speak from experience i swim and hour non stop 2-3 times a week side stroke mainly
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    Originally Posted by Sith123 View Post
    lean muscle, not bulky or big like a bodybuilder, its lean muscle you will build from swimming hours of laps, so if you swim expect to gain cuts and have a lean physique
    i speak from experience i swim and hour non stop 2-3 times a week side stroke mainly
    This , I too trained swimming for 5 years 2-3 times a week back in my early teens and had a nice lean physique also helped me with endurance in playing footy and cricket.
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    Originally Posted by shifter2012 View Post
    if your goal is to get big i'd cut swimming out entirely because it boosts your metabolism like crazy. why do you think phelps is under 200 pounds even though he eats a **** ton.
    phelps is under 200 pounds even though he eats a **** ton because he swims a **** ton.
    energy balance dictates weight.
    op can do swimming to get some exercise while he recovers from his injury, preferably many short sprints (say 50m). it will help minimize muscle waste from inactivity.
    saying he should 'cut swimming entirely because it boosts metabolism like crazy', which basically implies that even a small amount will make his metabolism keep burning up all the calories the rest of the day is pure retardation.
    Last edited by gomez26; 03-10-2012 at 05:28 AM.
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    This thread is a big pile of fail. There are 2-3 decent responses and then a bunch of bro science like "it tones you" and "it builds lean muscle mass". Toning doesn't exist unless we're talking about decreasing body fat and increasing muscle mass (in which case lifting weights is still superior to swimming). And the concept of building "lean muscle mass" from any activity is faulty, simply because it depends on calories consumed and type of training performed. Swimming will not add significant muscle mass (look at elite swimmers compared to elite lifters and then also compare them to elite sprinters). The swimmers that are decently big tend to also lift weights (because they aren't stupid and know swimming is for endurance, not building muscle).

    Should you swim if you can't lift? Yes, exercise is good for you. If you can't lift, keep active doing something you are able to do. This is one of those cases where "something (swimming) is better than nothing (laying on the couch)" is actually a valid statement to apply to your situation. Will you build muscle from it? Probably not unless you're at the very beginning stages of lifting and your muscles just grow when you do a little more than sit on your ass all day. Will you maintain muscle mass? Maybe, depending on how long you lay off. I would focus on HIIT type swimming to make this at all possible. Will you lose muscle mass? Maybe. Will you get "toned" from swimming? Maybe, depending on your diet.
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    Swimming will not make you bigger (unless maybe a bit on your shoulders/backs) but will make you leaner. Plus if you can't lift weight and swimming is the only exercise you can do I don't see what other options you have...
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    from swimmer's aspect.. you will get bigger but ONLY if you are advanced/professional swimmer with like 6-7 years of active swimming practises. If you swim like this for 6-7 years you will get abit bigger(depends of the proteins you intake), but defined with lean muscle for sure!!!! ppl should stop posting without any experience
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    Originally Posted by viksamkd View Post
    from swimmer's aspect.. you will get bigger but ONLY if you are advanced/professional swimmer with like 6-7 years of active swimming practises. If you swim like this for 6-7 years you will get abit bigger(depends of the proteins you intake), but defined with lean muscle for sure!!!! ppl should stop posting without any experience
    I've got almost a decade of year round swimming experience bro. Those who get bigger just by swimming are few and far between. Yes it does happen for some people but they are the lucky freaks of this world. Most people say stuff like "I picked up swimming when I was 15 and when I turned 18 I gained 20 pounds of muscle and never lifted." Odds are you got bigger because of puberty.

    Swimming builds endurance, and there is nothing wrong with that if you want a wiry physic. Check out a marathon runners legs some time and you'll see that they are skinny and wiry as all hell but work great for endurance. I'm dumbing this down a but but, there are 3 types of skeletal muscle fibers in the body: Type I, Type IIA, and Type IIB. Type I fibers are slow twitch fibers made mostly for endurance. They are not especially strong when they contract but can continue to contract for long periods of time. Type IIA fibers are fast twitch fibers that are much stronger than Type I fibers but they can only contract for a little over a minute before they need to recover. Type IIB fibers are the absolute strongest fibers. They are fast twitch but only last around 15 seconds.

    I also got to address the whole lean muscle thing. You CAN'T BUILD FAT MUSCLE! you can have lean muscles surrounded my fat, fat in between fibers, but the muscle itself is always lean. As for strength it is all relative to what you want to do. Whose stronger a guy who benches 400 but can only do 40 pushups or a guy who can do 100 pushups and benches 250? They are both strong but in different ways. Swimming will get you stronger, but in endurance only.
    Last edited by shifter2012; 03-12-2012 at 12:32 PM. Reason: grammar
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    Honestly, I don't understand the reasoning of most of this thread. If you went from lifting 1.5x bw for reps in bench, 2x for squats, and 2.5x for deads, how in the world is swimming going to maintain this muscle? Swimming, as mentioned, is great cardio and very easy on the joints. I'm not saying it's bad at all as it's actually very good for those doing rehab or who want low impact activity.

    Other than that, what's there really to offer with swimming from a muscle-building perspective? Certainly it's better than sitting on the couch watching TV all day, but it isn't going to build your body like progressive overload will. I guess I would only work on my swimming from a physique/competitive aspect if I participated in a sport that dealt with swimming, or if I was training for the marines or something.
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    I regularly do swimming but I never felt it build muscles,Yes but its a good exercise,it makes you feet as well as helps you to loose some weight.
    Last edited by HarrisAllen; 06-28-2012 at 10:50 PM.
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    Originally Posted by gigokk View Post
    Hello.
    Recently i had a shoulder injury, so my doctor told me to stop working out.
    Now i am recovering and the doc told me i cant yet do some weight lifting but i can swim, so i was wondering it this activity can build muscle or it will make me loose my progress????

    Thank you.
    If anything it will promote muscle endurance. You may get some kind of muscle gains to start with it your body is not accustomed to that type of activity but nothing in a long run. Also if you eat the same amount of kcal you may lose some fat, as water is known to strip body heat rather well and thus your body needs to spend more energy heating you up.
    So swim and try not to lose much weight. When you can lift weights start lifting.
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