Bodybuilding and swimming are two different types of exercises that seem to be at odds with one another. Bodybuilding focuses on building muscle mass and strength, while swimming is a low-impact cardio exercise that many use to burn calories.
If getting big and strong is your goal, swimming can get in the way of that if you aren’t eating enough. Additionally, some people wonder if bodybuilders can swim effectively with their muscle mass, or if they will sink due to their weight.
The answer is yes, bodybuilders can swim, and in fact, swimming can be a great addition to their workout routine. While it may be more challenging for bodybuilders to stay afloat due to their muscle mass, swimming is still an effective way to burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, swimming can help bodybuilders rehab injuries and reduce the risk of future injuries due to the low-impact nature of the exercise.
Although swimming is not typically associated with bodybuilding, it can offer a variety of benefits for those looking to improve their overall fitness. This article will explore the relationship between bodybuilding and swimming, the benefits of swimming for bodybuilders, and how to incorporate swimming into a bodybuilding workout routine.
Benefits of Swimming for Bodybuilders
Swimming is a great exercise for bodybuilders as it offers many benefits that complement their workout routine. Here are some of the benefits of swimming for bodybuilders:
- Full-body workout: Swimming works every muscle in your body, making it a great exercise for bodybuilders who want to target all of their muscles and avoid muscular imbalances.
- Low-impact exercise: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints, making it a great alternative to high-impact exercises like running.
- Cardiovascular endurance: Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that can help bodybuilders improve their endurance and stamina so that they can work in the higher rep ranges or do more full-body workouts without fatiguing.
- Core strength: Swimming strengthens the core muscles, which are important for stability and balance during weightlifting exercises such as squats and overhead press.
Additionally, swimming can be a great way for bodybuilders to break the monotony of their workout routine and try something new. It can also be a great way to rehab restrictive injuries from lifting and improve overall flexibility.
Challenges Faced by Bodybuilders While Swimming
Swimming is a great form of exercise for bodybuilders, as it provides a full-body workout and helps to improve cardiovascular health. However, there are some challenges that bodybuilders may face when it comes to swimming, including:
- Buoyancy issues: Bodybuilders with a lot of muscle mass may find it more difficult to float in the water because muscles are denser than fat. This can make it harder to stay afloat and can lead to fatigue more quickly.
- Increased drag: Bodybuilders with large muscles have greater surface area to experience more drag in the water, which can slow them down and tire them out faster.
- Lack of endurance: While bodybuilders may have a lot of strength and power, they may not have the same level of endurance as swimmers who train specifically for the sport. This can make it more difficult to maintain a steady pace and swim for longer periods of time in addition to the aforementioned problems.
- Limited range of motion: The bulkiness of a bodybuilder’s muscles can lead to a reduced range of motion, making it more challenging for them to execute swimming techniques effectively. To be fair, you would have to be incredibly muscular for this to be a legitimate concern.
Despite these challenges, bodybuilders can still enjoy swimming as a form of exercise and can work to overcome these obstacles with the right training, training equipment, and technique.
For example, bodybuilders can focus on improving their swimming form to reduce drag in the water and conserve energy. They can also work on building endurance through regular swimming workouts and incorporating other forms of cardio into their training regimen.
Training for Swimming as a Bodybuilder
Swimming Techniques for Bodybuilders
Bodybuilders need to learn proper swimming techniques to avoid injury and get the most out of their workouts.
One of the most important techniques to master, especially if they are just starting out, is proper breathing. Breathing is a critical component of swimming and can make or break your performance. Bodybuilders should practice breathing techniques to ensure they are taking in enough oxygen and not getting fatigued too quickly.
Another important technique for bodybuilders is proper stroke form and body positioning. Bodybuilders tend to have more muscle mass, which can make it difficult to perform the swim strokes.
Bodybuilders can modify their strokes to adapt to their increased muscle mass and limited flexibility, ensuring efficiency in the water. For instance, they may choose to utilize the freestyle or breaststroke over the butterfly stroke, which often demands more flexibility and coordination.
Furthermore, focusing on streamlining the body and maintaining a relaxed kick will help reduce drag and conserve energy. Learning how to maintain a horizontal body position in the water helps to reduce drag and increase buoyancy.
I recommend you look at some instructional swimming videos or hire a swim coach to help you with these steps because it’s simply too much information to pack into a single article.
Incorporating Swimming Drills
To refine their swimming skills, bodybuilders can include specific drills into their workouts, allowing them to target certain muscle groups or enhance particular aspects of their technique. Examples of drills that may be beneficial include:
- One-arm freestyle: This drill focuses on improving arm technique and balance in the water, useful for bodybuilders who may experience limited flexibility in their shoulders.
- Sculling: Sculling drills help develop a better feel for the water, which can be essential for bodybuilders with a greater muscle-to-fat ratio who may face buoyancy challenges.
- Pull sets: By isolating the upper body, pull sets allow bodybuilders to work on their arm strength, stroke efficiency, and aerobic capacity.
Sample Swimming Workout Tailored to Bodybuilders
Bodybuilders can design swimming workouts that complement their strength training while also providing cardiovascular benefits. Here’s a sample workout tailored for bodybuilders:
- Warm-up: 200m easy swimming, alternating between freestyle and breaststroke.
- Drill set: 4 x 50m one-arm freestyle, with 15 seconds rest between repetitions.
- Main set: 4 x 100m freestyle at a moderate pace, focusing on efficient strokes and maintaining a streamlined body position. Rest 30 seconds between repetitions.
- Pull set: 4 x 50m freestyle with a pull buoy, emphasizing pulling power and efficient arm technique. Rest 20 seconds between repetitions.
- Cool-down: 200m easy swimming, alternating between freestyle and breaststroke.
As a bodybuilder, incorporating swimming into your fitness routine can enhance overall athletic performance, while adapting swimming techniques can ensure a more comfortable and efficient experience in the water.