Swimming is an excellent aerobic sport to get involved with. It is a great way to tone up those muscles with out building bulk. The more you know about a sport the better you get. You need to know which muscles to strengthen in order to improve at your favorite sport. I will not be listing every name of every muscle involved but I will list the general areas and muscle groups that benefit from the different strokes. The question then would be "What muscles do you utilize when swimming?".
Things You'll Need
- Your brain
- A muscle diagram of the human body unless you already know the muscles of the human body by heart
Swimming is mainly an upper body work out. It also helps to tone up those lower body muscles. The four strokes of swimming are of course Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly. With a work out including the combination of all 4 strokes you will work out every muscle in the body.
Each stroke is different but they all exercise the same main muscle groups. These main muscle groups include the biceps, triceps, gluteus, abdominals, hamstrings, quadriceps, calf muscles, back muscles, shoulder muscles, neck muscles, chest muscles and respiratory muscles.
Why is it that all the strokes work out the same muscles but you may be better at one stroke than another? They may all work out the same muscles but because each stroke has its own unique movement corresponding to it one stroke may work out a muscle more than another. For example you may be better at back stroke than at free style because your back muscle is stronger than your chest muscles.
Freestyle, also known as the front crawl, involves leg kicks, pulling and pushing arm and shoulder movements and torso rotation movements all done with the chest in the water. Though the stroke takes advantage of all your muscles it will concentrate on your biceps, triceps, shoulder muscles, chest muscle or pectoralis muscles (chest), trapezius muscle, the deltoids, the gluteus, the latissimus dorsi, the hip flexors and respiratory muscles. This stroke works out the quadriceps more than the hamstring muscles.
The backstroke or the back crawl is pretty much done using the same movement as freestyle but with your back in the water. Because this stroke has many of the same movements as freestyle many of the same muscles are worked out. However, back stroke gives an intense work out to all of your back muscles and also provides a descent work out for your hamstrings. Other muscles that are worked out include the biceps, triceps, your shoulder muscles, abdominals, chest muscles, neck muscles, calf muscles and hip flexors. The backstroke also exercises the respiratory muscles but since your head is faced out of the water it is easier to breath.
This stroke is done with the chest facing the water and does not involve hip rotation. It is one of the best strokes to exercise the leg muscles. The stroke involves a frog kick motion for the legs and an outward circular sweeping motion for the arms. The water resistance encountered by this stroke provides an excellent work out for the muscles of the inner and outer thigh, the calf muscle and the triceps. Once again the breast stroke works out all of your muscles. I just listed the ones the stroke has the most impact on.
The butterfly stroke is also done with the chest facing the water and is one of the more challenging strokes. The arm movement of this stroke is done by extending both arms in a semicircle movement above the water at the same time followed by a pulling motion in the water. The legs make a kicking motion and both legs are kicked at the same time. Your body makes a wave like motion when performing the stroke. This stroke is very beneficial to the gluteus muscles, the abdominals, back muscles, the shoulder muscles, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the biceps, and the triceps. Butterfly also is a great exercise for your respiratory muscles. This stroke also works out all of the muscles in the body.
I think it is safe to say that incorporating all the strokes into your routine will give you a full body workout providing an excellent exercise plan.
Tips & Warnings
- As you swim the different strokes you can feel which muscles are being worked out.
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