Swimming provides a lot of physical and mental health benefits, but so does working out in the gym. Although, both can affect different areas of physical fitness.
Generally, the gym can help you grow stronger and build or tone your muscles. It also helps you with initial conditioning to be able to perform in other activities. Swimming, on the other hand, can help your heart, lungs, and circulatory system and can also impact every muscle in your body.
If you want to become fitter and stronger but are not quite sure which training method will provide you optimal results and can help you achieve your fitness goals as fast as possible, do not worry as we will help you find out which of these two can benefit you the most.
Reasons why swimming can be better than the gym
- It has no impact on joints and bones
Swimming is a resistance exercise, comparable to weight-lifting. But, unlike weight-lifting, swimming leaves almost no stress on your joints and bones. So not only does it work your muscles but it also doesn’t provide some of the negative impacts of lifting weights.
- Swimming can strengthen a lot of muscle groups
Swimming does work some muscles more than other exercises particularly your shoulders, back, traps, abs, lats, triceps, and legs.
- It builds endurance
The constant pulling and pushing off and against the water can build great muscle endurance and work capacity with the above-listed muscles, thus giving you a good physique, known as the “swimmer’s body.”
- It burns more calories in less time
Swimming naturally burns far more calories than hitting the gym because it is a combination of resistance and cardiovascular exercise. However, this doesn’t mean the gym doesn’t burn calories — it does but just not as much, which means you’ll have to exercise much longer to achieve the same results.
Freestyle swimming, performed by competitive swimmers, can burn roughly 257 calories in just 30 minutes while swimming in a butterfly style can burn up to 404 calories in the same time. On the other hand, weight-lifting can only burn about 80-130 calories in 30 minutes, which is still good, although not as efficient as swimming.
- You can lose weight faster
If you want to lose weight, swimming is going to be the best exercise to help you do so. Since you’ll be burning more calories, you will lose weight faster. Just make sure not to eat more and eat clean and healthy.
- It develops cardiovascular fitness and endurance
Swimming can help you develop great cardiovascular fitness and endurance. A higher level of cardiovascular fitness means you have a stronger heart and respiratory system, which will help you be healthier and help you power through pretty much any physically demanding obstacle that you may face, whether it be hiking or running a couple of miles.
- It is a full-body workout
Swimming can work the entire body in one go, while in the gym, you need several machines to carry out different exercises to target muscle groups, all of which require a lot of time.
- It utilizes muscles you rarely use
During a swimming session, you utilize muscles that you very rarely use, regardless of whether you use a breaststroke or butterfly swimming style. Besides, swimming will put your body under resistance from the water, which means your body will work harder in 30 minutes in the pool than while working out for 45 minutes in the gym on average.
- It is not load-bearing
Swimming is also great for anyone with joint and muscle problems because it is not load-bearing, which makes it a more beneficial option compared to using gym equipment.
- It is a stress reliever
Swimming can help de-stress and relax, despite how hard you exert effort, which is certainly something you cannot get from using a public gym as you feel pressured and watched all the time.
- It utilizes muscles you rarely use
A swim in the morning or late at night can clear the mind and reduce stress levels.
Can you get ripped from swimming?
Swimming can get you ripped, but you won’t see the results as quickly as you would with free weights. Swimming laps will build your upper body and legs, and if you know the proper exercises to do, you can help tone the rest of your body so you can get a little more ripped. You have to engage in short, high-intensity sessions that require an entirely different approach than people usually take in lap swimming. You have to choose the right motion, resistance, and number of reps to get the biggest muscle-building benefits from swimming.
Here are some swimming exercises or drills that you can implement to get the maximum body-building benefits:
- Core Workout
- Hold a kickboard on your lap and keep your torso vertical.
- Bring your legs parallel to the water surface, keeping your body in an “L” shape.
- With your back to the other end of the pool, start doing a flutter kick, and then move down the pool.
- Resist the urge of leaning back partway down the pool to straighten your abs, even if it is easier.
- This drill will work your core muscles, from your rib cage all the way down to your hips.
- Leg Workout (Tombstone Drill)
- Hold your kickboard upright, like a tombstone.
- Kick hard and push it forward.
- Kick with a soft knee and straight leg.
- As the board creates more resistance, it engages your hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.
- Back and Shoulders Workout (Kickboard Press & Pull)
- Stand in shallow water while holding your kickboard, like a tombstone.
- Grab the top and bottom in each hand. The flat part should be facing the wall.
- Start with the kickboard close to your chest.
- Push it away from you and pull back as fast as you can.
- Do this as fast as you can.
- This drill works the shoulders, pecs, and upper back.
- Lats Workout (Swim with Paddles)
- Assume that your stroke is already efficient.
- Do a segment of your swimming exercise using swim paddles to add more resistance to build your lats.
- Use paddles that are only slightly larger than your hand and feature enough holes.
- Start with 200 yards or meters and then gradually work your way up to using longer ones.
- Beginners should wait until their strokes are efficient before using paddles as stroke errors will only build pain and not muscles.
- Resistance Workout (Parachute Pull)
- Use a swim parachute that you can clip around your waist.
- Swim while the parachute holds you back in the water. This will provide you enough resistance, which stimulates muscle growth.
- You can also use a swimming drag suit which has little pockets that trap water and makes you swim harder.
- Arm Workout (Dry Shoulder Treading Water)
- Tread water at the end of the swimming pool.
- Use your arms in to get your shoulders out instead of just keeping your head out.
- Face a wall and start treading.
- Keep your hands at armpit level.
- Sweep your arms and hands outward wherein your palms are facing the sides of the pool.
- Sweep them back toward each other with your palms facing each other.
- Move them in and out as quickly as you can.
If you do this drill efficiently, harder, and faster, you can get really strong. This drill works your forearms and rear deltoids.
Swimming is a fun activity that can strengthen and tone your muscles. It is also an efficient way to lose weight. Furthermore, it is more therapeutic than going to a public gym while getting as many physical benefits as if you were working out at the gym.