Does Swimming Give You Abs? How You Can Speed Up the Process

Does Swimming Give You Abs

The title of this article is clearly a rhetorical question, because one look at any competitive swimmer’s washboard abs makes the answer painfully clear: swimming can give you abs. But how swimming gives you abs may not be as straightforward as some people think.

Swimming can help you develop a strong core and toned six-pack abs. When you swim, your core muscles like abs, hips, and lower back are completely engaged, helping you balance and stay on the water’s surface. Additionally, kicking in the water gives your abs chief control over your speed and agility through the water. Swimming also helps you burn off the fat covering your abs, making them even more prominent.

However, it’s important to note that simply swimming alone may not be enough to get you the abs of your dreams. A combination of a healthy diet and strength training outside of swimming is necessary to achieve a toned and defined midsection.

Keep reading on to learn how you can get abs from swimming.

What Are Abs and How Do You Make Them Visible?

Your abs, or abdominal muscles, are a group of muscles that run from your ribcage to your pelvis. They include the rectus abdominis, which is the muscle responsible for the “six-pack” look, as well as the obliques and transverse abdominis.

To get visible abs, you need to have a low body fat percentage, which means that your abs are visible through the layer of fat that covers them.

Swimming can help reveal your abs by burning through excess body fat and lowering your overall body fat percentage. However, it is important to note that swimming alone cannot replace a healthy, balanced diet.

To lose body fat around your midsection, you need to be in a caloric deficit. What does that mean?

Say your body requires (uses up) 2,200 calories every day to maintain its current size, shape, and healthy body function. Let’s say you consume exactly 2,200 calories everyday to meet your body’s needs. This means you are “eating at maintenance”.

Eating less than maintenance means you are at a caloric deficit. If you didn’t change your diet at all and burned an additional 300 calories from swimming, here’s what happens. If we do the math, your body expends 2,200 calories normally, plus an additional 300 calories from swimming, so your total daily energy expenditure is 2,500 calories. But you only ate 2,200 calories, so your body is at a caloric deficit of 300 calories.

Your body needs to make up the 300 calories it’s missing from somewhere, and it will take it from your fat stores. Your fat stores will deplete over time if you keep eating at a caloric deficit, and that’s how weight loss occurs in a nutshell.

Does Swimming Give You a Flat Stomach?

Swimming may not be the best exercise to help you build abs, but ironically it may be a better exercise for making your abs visible than doing targeted training on your abs. Allow me to explain.

To reiterate on a point above, fat is stored beneath the skin but on top of one’s muscles. Fat helps to pad the muscles and bones against bumps and falls, but has the side effect of making one’s abs less visible and one’s midsection rotund when fat is stored over that area.

Men tend to store fat in the abdominal region, whereas women tend to store fat in their glutes but have a higher body fat percentage overall. If you are a guy, you almost certainly have some fat covering your abs that you need to shed.

That said, if you want visible abs, it doesn’t hurt to train your abs so that they get bigger. But you must also focus on shedding your fat and this is where swimming comes in.

Swimming is a cardiovascular exercise that can burn 400-700 calories per hour depending on the intensity. If you are swimming often, then you can burn off that fat as long as you are not eating back the calories you burned off. This is where having a good diet comes in.

How Long Does It Take To Get Abs From Swimming?

In general, it can take several weeks or even months of consistent exercise and healthy eating to achieve visible abs. However, the exact amount of time it takes will vary depending on individual factors such as genetics, body composition, and workout intensity.

While swimming can be an effective exercise for building a strong core and improving overall fitness, it may not be the most effective way to get visible abs quickly.

To achieve visible abs more quickly, it’s important to incorporate targeted ab exercises into your workout routine and maintain a healthy diet. Exercises such as crunches, planks, and leg raises can help to target the abdominal muscles more effectively and promote muscle growth.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can help to support muscle growth and fat loss.

Factors That Affect Abs Formation

Having a chiseled, toned midsection is a goal for many people, and swimming is often touted as a great way to achieve it. However, there are several factors that can affect the formation of abs, and swimming alone may not be enough to get the desired results. Here are some of the factors that can influence abs formation:

Diet and Nutrition

The importance of diet cannot be overstated when it comes to building visible abs. Abs are made in the kitchen, not just the gym (or pool in this case). Even if you do targeted ab exercises and swim everyday, you won’t see results unless you have a healthy diet.

To build visible abs, you need to reduce your body fat percentage. This means that you need to burn enough calories to be at a caloric deficit, but exercise isn’t the only way.

You can also play around with your diet to speed up your weight loss. A diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can help fuel your workouts and promote muscle growth while also supporting fat loss.

Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. Aim to consume around 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu.

Healthy fats are also important for supporting muscle growth and fat loss. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Complex carbohydrates provide the energy needed to fuel workouts and support muscle growth. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

It’s also important to avoid processed foods, instant foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats. These foods can contribute to weight gain and make it harder to achieve visible abs.

Consistency and Frequency of Swimming Practice

Swimming regularly and consistently is key to seeing results. Swimming once a week may not be enough to see significant changes in abs formation. It is recommended to swim at least 2-3 times a week for at least 30 minutes per session.

An unfortunate reality is that many people start their training regimen with great enthusiasm, but very quickly start to lose motivation when results come slowly and their life gets busy. They start to miss workouts, slowing their progress even more, until ultimately they give up after not achieving their goal within their expected timeframe. Does this sound familiar?

That is why being consistent with your swim practice is so important. You need to do whatever it takes to get yourself into the pool at least 2-3 times a week until it becomes a habit.

Additionally, varying the intensity and duration of swimming sessions can also be beneficial for building visible abs and breaking up the monotony of swimming laps.

High-intensity swimming sessions that involve sprinting or interval training can help to burn more calories and promote fat loss, which can help to reveal the abs. Longer swimming sessions that involve continuous swimming can help to build endurance and to challenge yourself.

Swimming Technique and Style

Swimming is a great exercise for building core strength and toning your abs. However, not all swimming strokes are created equal when it comes to targeting your abs. Here are some of the best swimming strokes for building abs:

  • Butterfly Stroke: The butterfly stroke is the most challenging swimming exercise, but it is also the most effective for building abs. The strong kicking motion required by this stroke starts from your lower abs and hips, making it an excellent exercise for toning your core muscles. It also burns the most amount of calories out of all the swim strokes.
  • Freestyle Stroke: The freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl, is another great swimming exercise for building abs. This stroke requires a strong rotation of your body, which engages your abs and helps to tone your core muscles.
  • Backstroke: The backstroke is another long-axis stroke that is great for building abs. Like the freestyle stroke, it requires a strong rotation of your body, which engages your abs and helps to tone your core muscles.

While these three swimming strokes are the most effective for building abs, it’s important to mix up your swimming routine to get the most out of your workout. Incorporating other strokes, such as breaststroke or sidestroke, can help to target different areas of your core muscles and prevent boredom.

Overall, swimming is an excellent exercise for building core strength and toning your abs. By incorporating the butterfly stroke, freestyle stroke, and backstroke into your swimming routine, you can effectively target your abs and achieve a toned, strong core.

Ab exercises you can do outside of swimming

To make your six pack abs more prominent, you should directly train them at the gym. Here is a sample workout routine you can follow:

  • Plank: 3 sets of 30-60 seconds. Start in a push-up position with your arms straight and your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your forearms to the ground and hold your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Bicycle Crunch: 3 sets of 20 reps. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your left elbow to your right knee while straightening your left leg. Repeat on the other side.
  • Russian Twist: 3 sets of 20 reps. Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground. Twist your torso to the right and touch your hands to the ground next to your hip. Twist to the left and touch your hands to the ground next to your left hip.
  • Leg Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps. Lie on your back with your hands under your hips and your legs straight. Lift your legs off the ground until they are perpendicular to your body. Lower them back down slowly.
  • Cable Crunch: 3 sets of 15 reps. Kneel in front of a cable machine with the rope attachment above your head. Grab the rope with both hands and bring it down to your forehead by flexing your abs.