Swimming and Strength
If you want long, lean muscles, swimming is one activity that is almost certain to deliver, especially if you like doing laps rather than, say, water aerobics. But you’re going to have a much harder time bulking and building upper body strength beyond a certain point if you rely solely on aquatic sports for your physical fitness.
If you’re into competitive swimming (like triathlons or swimming the English Channel) or you simply want to improve your performance for your own benefit, building upper body strength is a good way to accomplish your goals.
A regimen that includes a variety of cross-training options is likely to provide the best solution.
Here are just a few extra exercises that are sure to deliver the upper body strength you need to take your water-based fitness to the next level.
- Lifting routine.
Weight training remains the absolute best way to increase strength and add bulk to your muscle mass. As a swimmer, you’re likely trying to maintain a certain body weight and/or stay as trim as possible, but you’ll find it rather difficult to gain upper body strength without adding some muscle mass in your shoulders, chest, and arms.
You don’t necessarily have to sport the Herculean stature of a body builder, but adding a little bulk could certainly help to propel you through the water at greater speeds. You’ll probably find that it’s something of a balancing act between gaining muscle for strength and staying trim to streamline your body.
It doesn’t get much more old-school than grabbing a bar and lifting your body weight over and over again when it comes to building upper body strength.
Since swimming requires you to virtually pull yourself through the water, more or less mimicking the motion of a pull-up (but in a horizontal position), this could be one simple exercise that helps you with needed upper body strength. Rowing could be another option.
You don’t have to be a mountain-climbing adrenaline junkie to get into this upwardly mobile sport. Instead, get yourself a membership at a climbing gym and start working your way up fake rock walls with the safety of a belayer and a cushy mat below you.
The motion is similar to pull-ups, although you’ll have your legs to help you out. But still, you’ll get plenty of hang time to toughen up your upper body.
In truth, this exercise provides you with total body strength and conditioning, but that, of course, includes your upper body.
The great thing about Crossfit is that it is really two exercises in one. Not only are you strengthening your body through the use of all kinds of weights (barbells, Kettlebells, hand weights, discs, and so on), but you’re also getting in a ton of cardio through timed routines that force you to move fast. It’s one of the few fitness routines that could help you to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously.
- Home lap pool.
If you’re truly dedicated to swimming, there’s no reason you can’t find ways to build your upper body strength while in the water, and aquatic exercise inground pools could provide you with a convenient solution. Home lap pools are small enough to fit in any backyard (they’re only slightly larger than a hot tub) and thanks to the directional jets, you’ll get the resistance you need to swim laps in a pool that’s little more than a large bathtub.
Not enough resistance to build muscle? Strap on some aquatic wrist weights to up the ante.