5 Muscle Groups to focus on for swimmers

Swimming is a sport that uses most of the bodies muscles, but there are five main muscles that make the largest difference in a swimmer’s performance.

Latissimus Dorsi
The latissimus dorsi muscle or commonly known as “lats” are your middle back muscles.

These muscles play a large role in your ability to pull. You will flex and use these muscles from point of water entry all the way until your hand is just past your chest, at which point your pull becomes dominated by your tricep.

One exercise you could do to build your lats are pull-ups (Our Pull Up Challenge inspired this post).

Tricep Muscles
The tricep muscles or commonly known as “tri” are the muscles in the back part of your upper arm, opposite of your bicep. Your tricep is used to finish your pull in freestyle stroke, backstroke, and butterfly.

The tricep muscle is what gives your pull the final push and allows you to complete a full stroke to your hips. Without the strength to finish your pull, you will be required to complete more strokes which will slow you down.

Pectoral Muscles
The pectoral muscles is a fancy term for your chest muscles or more commonly know as “pecs”, which play an integral part in freestyle stroke and breast stroke. This muscles helps stabilize your strokes so does not contribute a large amount of strength to your propulsion.

One of the best exercises to work your chest muscles is by bench pressing. This can be performed by laying on a bench and starting with a bar above your chest, then slowly bringing it down to your chest and back up again.

Core Muscles
Your core muscles are essentially your abs. These muscles allow you to stabilize your body and play an integral part of your position in the water.

With a flat and weak core you will be unable to hold yourself on top of the water creating unwanted drag. With a tight core you will be able to remain hydrodynamic, which will allow for more efficiency in your strokes and better propulsion through the water.

Quadriceps Muscles
Quadriceps or commonly known as “quads”, are the group of muscles in the front upper part of your legs. They are used to jump and kick. Though kicking only plays a small role in freestyle, other strokes such as backstroke and butterfly rely heavily on the kick.

Even though quadriceps play a small role in propulsion, the quads are super important at the start and on turns.

With powerful legs, you will be able to jump further in the air, which increases speed because it is easier to move through the air than it is to move through the water. Flipturns, especially in events like the mile, can be the make or break of a swimmer.

It is important to be able to push off the wall fast enough to get the momentum going or else you will have to rely on your upper body thereby exhausting your upper body.

One of the best exercises for your quadriceps is to do lunges with weights in your hands.

These are the five main muscles that will allow you to become a faster swimmer. Strength training will give you that final edge that will take you to the next level. After next swim workout, hit the weights and work your lats, tri, pecs, core and quads.

Happy Training ~ Coach Kristen