Muscles Used Swimming.

Swimming is one of the best all round, low impact physical activities we can participate in. It is a great cardiovascular exercise which can improve and increase our overall fitness, strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, enhance physique, help with weight loss  and aid in physical rehabilitation.

Swimming is also considered to be one of only a few physical activities which train nearly all major muscle groups in the entire body. The different swimming strokes highlight different muscle groups though all strokes generally work out all the same major muscles of the body.

Freestyle/Front Crawl

Freestyle is one of the most popular swimming strokes used in training, so it is essential we understand which muscle groups are targeted and worked out whilst swimming.

The muscles used swimming freestyle are as follows;

Upper Limb

Thenars (hand muscles), Brachioradialis (forearm flex muscles), Flexor Digitorum Profundus (forearm extensor muscle),  Biceps, Triceps, Deltoids (shoulder muscles)

Neck

Sternocleidomastoid (neck muscles),

Front Trunk

Pectorals (chest muscles), Serratus Anterior (side muscles), External Oblique (outer abdominal muscles), Rectus Abdominus (abdominal muscles).

Back Trunk

Latissimus Dorsi (back muscles), Trapezius, Spinus Erectors (spinal chord support muscles), Teres Major, Teres Minor, Rhomboid Major, Rhomboid Minor,

Lower Trunk

Gluteus Maximus (bum muscles), Abductor magnus (groin)

Lower Limb

Quadriceps (front of upper leg muscles), Hamstrings (back of upper leg muscles), Gastrocnemius (calf muscles), Tibialis Anterior (shin muscle), Abductor Hallucius (foot muscles, Abductor Digiti Minimi (foot muscles), Flexor Digitorum Brevis (foot muscles).


Breaststroke

Breaststroke is a popular stroke used frequently whilst training and is a great all round muscle workout. Although it is not as strenuous as the other three strokes it still requires almost all the body’s muscle groups to be exercised whilst performing the stroke, with emphisis on the lower limb and lower trunk region.

The muscles used swimming breaststroke are as follows;

Upper Limb

Thenars (hand muscles), Brachioradialis (forearm flex muscles), Flexor Digitorum Profundus (forearm extensor muscle),  Biceps, Triceps, Deltoids (shoulder muscles)

Neck

Sternocleidomastoid (neck muscles),

Front Trunk

Pectorals (chest muscles), Serratus Anterior (side muscles), External Oblique (outer abdominal muscles), Rectus Abdominus (abdominal muscles).

Back Trunk

Latissimus Dorsi (back muscles), Trapezius, Spinus Erectors (spinal chord support muscles), Teres Major, Teres Minor, Rhomboid Major, Rhomboid Minor,

Lower Trunk

Gluteus Maximus (bum muscles), Abductor magnus (groin)

Lower Limb

Quadriceps (front of upper leg muscles), Hamstrings (back of upper leg muscles), Gastrocnemius (calf muscles), Tibialis Anterior (shin muscle), Abductor Hallucius (foot muscles, Abductor Digiti Minimi (foot muscles), Flexor Digitorum Brevis (foot muscles).


Backstroke.

Backstroke is a another stroke which exercise almost identical muscle groups as freestyle, with the major difference being that backstroke is swum on your back so therefore your face is out of the water and there is no need to twist your head to breath as in freestyle.

The muscles used swimming backstroke are as follows;

Upper Limb

Thenars (hand muscles), Brachioradialis (forearm flex muscles), Flexor Digitorum Profundus (forearm extensor muscle),  Biceps, Triceps, Deltoids (shoulder muscles)

Neck

Sternocleidomastoid (neck muscles),

Front Trunk

Pectorals (chest muscles), Serratus Anterior (side muscles), External Oblique (outer abdominal muscles), Rectus Abdominus (abdominal muscles).

Back Trunk

Latissimus Dorsi (back muscles), Trapezius, Spinus Erectors (spinal chord support muscles), Teres Major, Teres Minor, Rhomboid Major, Rhomboid Minor,

Lower Trunk

Gluteus Maximus (bum muscles), Abductor magnus (groin)

Lower Limb

Quadriceps (front of upper leg muscles), Hamstrings (back of upper leg muscles), Gastrocnemius (calf muscles), Tibialis Anterior (shin muscle), Abductor Hallucius (foot muscles, Abductor Digiti Minimi (foot muscles), Flexor Digitorum Brevis (foot muscles).


Butterfly.

Butterfly stroke is the least used swimming stroke and probably the most strenuous of all four swimming strokes. It requires quite a lot of  and effort propel you through the water and is considered the most challenging of all four strokes to swim with an emphasis on the back trunk and lower limb muscle groups.

The muscles used swimming Butterfly are as follows;

Upper Limb

Thenars (hand muscles), Brachioradialis (forearm flex muscles), Flexor Digitorum Profundus (forearm extensor muscle),  Biceps, Triceps, Deltoids (shoulder muscles)

Neck

Sternocleidomastoid (neck muscles),

Front Trunk

Pectorals (chest muscles), Serratus Anterior (side muscles), External Oblique (outer abdominal muscles), Rectus Abdominus (abdominal muscles).

Back Trunk

Latissimus Dorsi (back muscles), Trapezius, Spinus Erectors (spinal chord support muscles), Teres Major, Teres Minor, Rhomboid Major, Rhomboid Minor,

Lower Trunk

Gluteus Maximus (bum muscles), Abductor magnus (groin)

Lower Limb

Quadriceps (front of upper leg muscles), Hamstrings (back of upper leg muscles), Gastrocnemius (calf muscles), Tibialis Anterior (shin muscle), Abductor Hallucius (foot muscles, Abductor Digiti Minimi (foot muscles), Flexor Digitorum Brevis (foot muscles).


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22 comments to Muscles Used Swimming.

  • Bridgette

    Your videos on the different muscles used is really too short, esp for the butterfly.

  • Andy

    Many thanks for this. Really informative. I swim regularly but normally only do breaststroke, which as you point out, isn’t the most strenuous.

    I average eight miles a week but only swim five days a week. Do you think this is enough to keep fit or should I up it somewhat?

  • i think that this website is very useful! i have a school assignment and i needed the muscles i use to swim, and boom! right there a list of muscles! Thank-you swimtoslim.com :)

    • admin

      Thanks. I am glad you have found the information useful.

    • cyian

      thank you i love this website it helped me with my science fair project. This website saved me so much time.Thank you again.I have a question which one produces a faster heart rate freestyle backstroke breaststroke or butterfly??

    • Lora

      i agree this has helped me alot. i have to do this assignment for Anatomy and it has to be a skill that we do. well i have to tell 25 muscles that we used. and i am doing it in the Butterfly. but this really only tells me the muscles in the upper section of the body. instead of the lower section.

  • I’ll right away grab your rss as I can’t find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me understand so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  • Cecilia

    Very informative, thank you. Videos very useful. With muscles highlighted, it safes me from looking up for every individual muscle mentioned. It would be even better if the filming is taken from several different angles and a bit longer or slower although I can always keep clicking on it. Thank you again.

    • admin

      Thanks Cecilia. I will be working on a new site which I am about to launch and will definitely consider slowing the video down and making them longer.

  • marija

    thanx for this info! i have a question, since i had a back surgery, i’m not really swiming like this…i’m swiming on my back with my strokes just through the watter, i think you’ll understand what i mean, it’s more easy than reall backstroke! i do also swim reall backstroke but i can manage only to swim once from side to side, but i’m trying harder! and sometimes i swim breaststroke but with my head above watter…i’m i working some back or legs muscles with that? i only feel pain in my feet, neck and lower back, and sometimes my chest..is that enough? can i hurt my back with backstrokes? and i also feel like i have more condition! oh and i think i’ve lost some weight and celulite, but my b/f doesn’t think so, but i do feel more fit…thank you for your answer in advance

    • admin

      Hi Marji,
      I would have to say I cannot give you any advise regarding your swimming technique via an email. I will add that any pain felt during any exercise is generally not a good sign and I would be extremely cautious and seek the advice of your doctor on the matter before continuing as you would not want to re-injure your self. In saying that, swimming is a great exercise for recovering from back injury as it is a low impact exercise due to your buoyancy in the water and can also help you to increase fitness as well as assisting with weight-loss when combined with a healthy diet.
      thanks.

  • EEYORE

    Thank you sooooooooooooooooooooo much for this site it has been a huge help for my school project!!!!!!!!!! Other wise I would have had to look up every single muscle used for swimming free and fly! That would be horrible!! This has been really helpful especially the vids but you should really make them each like 1 and 1/2 min long, it would help much more!!! still, thank you soooooo much!!!!!!

  • Hannah

    thanx this helped a lot with my homework assignment

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  • nhor

    thank you so much for this site because it help me to improve my ability to swim, you know, during the competition i always get gold or first. thank you because you help me what to do in the practices even in performing the correct strokes.. thank you!! I LOVE THIS GAME..

  • Irvin

    This website is of great help with the info provided, but maybe you can point on the muscle groups that each stroke puts emphasis on? and although it’s already been mentioned, longer videos would suffice.

  • [...] Muscles become stronger while swimming, so this exercise really helps to increase the muscular strength of our body and also the muscle tone. However, bones are also included in the swimming benefits that our body has in every single swim activity. [...]

  • Hannah

    OH MY GOSH!!!! This was sooo helpful! I am doing a school project on muscles for swimming, and this had all the information I needed!

    LOVE TO VIDEOS!!!-that really helped! :)

    and I am going to tell my swim coach about this website so he can show it to the swim team! !!!

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  • Michelle Cullen

    love the u-tube video diagrams. I have had a double mysectomy and had a lot of muscle damage on the left side due to radiation I have been using swimming to help with rehabilitation and has worked wonders but as I am now under going construction I was told not to over work pectoral muscles which meant stopping butterfly. Watching the videos, demonstrating muscle movement, has helped me to design a routine I can still follow. Thank you so much

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