October 23, 2020 7 min read 1 Comment
Tall. Long-limbed. Lean. And don’t forget; those lats and shoulders. If you haven’t already guessed who I might be describing, you probably haven’t spent much time around competitive swimmers. But, chances are, you knew exactly who I was talking about (and that’s why you’re here). Maybe you are hoping to soon be twinning with Michael Phelps. Or, perhaps, you are creating an exercise routine with an emphasis on swimming and you are wondering how your physique and appearance might change if you keep it up. There are definitely noticeable characteristics about a swimmer’s physique that go beyond being a stereotype. Curious yet about how your body might change as you embark on your swimming journey? Let’s dive in!
You are wondering, “What does a swimmer’s body look like?” A swimmer’s body is typically toned, but without too much bulky muscle. Broad shoulders with defined abs, lats, and triceps are the physical features earned by swimmers’ frequent time in the pool. Above-average height, a long torso and upper limbs are other noticeable characteristics of the best swimmers.
Many of these features can be acquired with a focused and dedicated swim regimen. The others are traits someone is born with that are almost impossible to change.
So, if we could build an ideal swimmer’s body, what would it consist of? If you are someone who wants to get as close to building a swimmer’s physique as possible, keep reading to find out how!
Like many who dominate their sport, swimmers have a unique physical build. However, it is important to understand the swimmers you see competing at the international level are in a league of their own; they are at the apex of their sport. Because of this, the appearance of what you might think a swimmer’s bodyshould look like, is probably skewed as well.
These are the swimmers who are spending countless hours training, and have basically made a career in the pool. Even when they aren’t training, these swimmers are following lifestyle habits that will benefit them the most when it’s time for competition. In addition to the necessity of following a strict regime, the tall height and long arm length that we often associate with swimmer traits are something they are naturally born with. As we discussed in the article about height, the swimmers you see on television went through a natural selection of the sport – not all swimmers are going to have the natural advantage of height. Although, it certainly helps.
Both men and women benefit as swimmers if they are on the taller end of the spectrum. When you hear the term, “swimmer’s body,” we are often referring to height. It is an obvious factor when watching the Olympics, for example, where it is not uncommon to see female swimmers at least 6 feet tall and male swimmers even taller than that. You might be wondering why height is helpful for swimmers. Here are some considerations:
This gives us a quick snapshot of why height is such a noticeable trait in many of the most recognizable swimming athletes. Height can play a significant role in a person’s ability to reach the top level in the sport, though it is certainly not a dealbreaker if you are not tall. Height isn’t the only characteristic of a typical “swimmer’s body;” many characteristics are ones you can achieve if you are willing to put in the hard work.
Let’s return to the understanding that swimmers we see on television are at the top of their sport. Although the height and long limbs are something they’re born with, most other noticeable characteristics are built with a dedication to workouts. Remember that elite swimmers train consistently at an intense level and high frequency over many years, and naturally are going to develop the large, defined muscles. A typical swimmer may not be training with the same amount of intensity, so it may take longer to develop those features. But, for anyone who routinely swims (including varying levels in different heart rate zones as well as dryland training), the shape of their body is bound to be transformed.
It’s not a secret that a swimmer’s body is built in the pool. Michael Phelps, for example, was swimming 12 times per week and logging-in over 12 miles of swimming each day. With this kind of regimen, a uniquely powerful body, closely aligned with the full-body sport of swimming, is inevitable. Some of the qualities and what they are associated with include:
Want to get a swimmer’s body? It starts in the pool! Soon, you will notice a defined upper body in the stereotypical V-shape you’ve come to associate with your favorite swimmers. Think that’s all it takes? It might be surprising, but the best swimmers don’t just swim.
Dryland training, which includes strength training and Olympic weightlifting, is another essential component of a swimmer’s day-to-day regimen. Just like any other sport, a well-executed cross-training plan allows a swimmer to prevent injury and make the competitive gains they desire. Various strength exercises also help contribute to the look of a “swimmer’s body." Here are my favorite simple exercises that will do the trick:
A3 Performance Tip: Add comprehensive strength training to your swimming routine to get defined upper and lower body muscles.
Defined muscles are a common characteristic of swimmers. Think that six-pack only comes from daily swimming and weight training? If you desire the low body fat that swimmers generally have, you’ll need to take a look at your diet.
I would be remiss to say you can have a swimmer’s body without proper nutrition. The most talented and dedicated swimmers burn an enormous amount of calories, but that doesn’t mean they can eat whatever they want. Creating a diet that balances macronutrients gives a swimmer the proper amount of nutrition they need to recover and maintain the body composition for top performance. Let’s be honest – a swimmer’s body looks good. A balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will keep a swimmer looking, feeling and performing top notch.
Looking to get that perfected V-shaped body that you often see on swimmers? It will only happen if you’re eating right, too!
A3 Performance Tip: Want a swimmer’s body? Keep body fat low through proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Just like every sport, there are athletes of all shapes and sizes, ranging in all kinds of abilities. Just because someone was born with stereotypical, “swimmer’s body,” doesn’t mean they will automatically be great at swimming. Someone who isn’t gifted with height, long arms, and torso, may still turn pro. No matter the circumstances, anyone can achieve a look that will resemble the stereotypical, “swimmer’s body.” It will take time and dedication, but it is certainly possible!
How long does it take to get a swimmer’s body? It is going to be different for everyone and depends a lot on a person’s starting level of fitness. Now is a good time to embrace the, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” mentality. If you’re looking to get a swimmer’s body, it’s going to take time. Those desirable broad shoulders and lean physique will become noticeable with daily swimming accompanied by strength training and proper nutrition over a period of months.
Can I get a swimmer’s body without even swimming? You might want the look of a swimmer’s body without ever actually getting in the pool. Though it’s possible to achieve a similar build, the outcome will probably not be an exact replica. Incorporating a proper diet alongside a program that includes full-body targeted weight lifting will be necessary. Finding a cardio exercise you enjoy that allows for a similar calorie burn to swimming will be important as well.
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