Swimmer’s Body: How to Get It? (Let’s Investigate)

There are some common traits that you will identify in a competitive swimmer. He will, most possibly, be tall, lean, has long limbs, broad shoulders, well-defined triceps, cleanly carved out abs and, and so on. Their body is typically toned, and doesn’t consist of any bulky muscle.

Did you know that many of these features can be acquired if you embark on a dedicated and focused swimming regime? If you are creating an exercise routine while laying a stress on improving your physical appearance, the first thing you need to be careful about is that your efforts should be consistent.

If you are craving that lean, chiseled swimmer body, this article will give you a detailed account of all the aspects such as the exercises that you can perform while in the pool or on dryland, the kind of diet plan you need to follow, and so on. Read on to find out how you can get that ripped body!

What is the ideal swimmer’s body?

What is the ideal swimmer's body

We usually associate certain body types with a specific sport. For instance, when we think of an ideal swimmer’s body, we think of long fingers, long palms, well-defined and toned abs, chiseled muscles, and so on.

What does the body of a swimmer ideally look like? Listed below are some of the features that are ideally attributed to a swimmer’s build.

Swimmers are tall

If you notice, you will see that most swimmers are tall. Let us take the example of 100m freestyle swimming world record holders of the year 1976. The average height of the male swimmers was 6’4″. Rowdy Gaines of the United States was the shortest person, his height being 6’1″.

Nevertheless, that does not mean that being vertically challenged makes you any less of a swimmer. Your height is decided by your genes. There have been legendary swimmers who were short. If you have acquired the right swimming skills, short height merely stands as a barrier.

A tall swimmer has certain advantages over a short swimmer. For instance, tall swimmers spend less energy and strength as compared to short swimmers. Tall people are also gifted with long arms, and large hands and feet. They act as oars and help the swimmers to move through water with a higher velocity.

Broad shoulders and massive latissimus dorsi

Latissimus dorsi, commonly referred to as the lats, refers to the muscle that runs along the whole of your back, that is, from the spine to the shoulder. As you swim over the years, you perform a humongous number of pulls.

Since swimmers perform repetitive and powerful rotations and shoulder extensions, they have extremely strong latissimus dorsi, triceps, and pectoralis muscles. This causes the backs to get enlarged.

Alongside the massive back, another trait that is the identity of a swimmer physique is a broad pair of shoulders. It is the broad shoulders of a swimmer coupled with the narrow abdomen that imparts a V-shape to the body. This means that swimmers have a high ratio of shoulder to waist, which causes their bodies to look like a “V.”

Swimmers have bulging biceps & triceps

Can you imagine a swimmer having massive shoulders but tiny arms? Triceps are the muscles that are placed in the hind portion of an individual’s upper arm.

Be it in a freestyle stroke, butterfly, or backstroke, it is the arm muscles that help you finish the pull.

Due to prolonged and persistent movements while swimming, the biceps & tricep muscles of swimmers tend to bulge out. These are some of the prominent features that you will see in an ideal swimmers body.

Apart from these, you will also see that swimmers have longer limbs and fingers. These features may either be genetically built, or can be built over time due to prolonged efforts.

Swimmers have powerful legs

You must have noticed that swimmers have powerful legs, although they aren’t very bulky. The legs of a swimmer play a very important role as it helps him to propel forward.

When a swimmer is inside the pool, the scissor-like motion of the legs helps in maintaining body balance and promoting mobility.

However, an excess of muscle in the legs can also pose a threat to the swimmer. Bulky legs of thick swimmers increase the drag and the swimmer has to pull more weight.

Well-defined abs and a thin waist

Well-defined abs and a thin waist
Image: Leonard Zhukovsky / bigstockphoto.com

Another prominent feature of a swimmer’s body is that he has abdominals that are well defined. This is often coupled with a thin waist, both of which combine to impart a well-defined abdominal region.

Swimming is a cardio exercise which is highly intense in nature. Swimming leads to massive caloric burn and increases the rate of metabolism. When one swims, the core muscles are put to use and hence, they grow strong eventually. Therefore, the longer you stay in the pool, the more well-defined your abs will be.

Swimmers are lean

Swimmers have a lean body. This is because swimming helps to shed a lot of calories. Swimming also puts all your body muscles to work.

It is also important to note that water is multiple times denser than air. Therefore, with every stroke you make, your body is working against a lot of resistance. Therefore, for swimmers, the intensity and volume of swim training, the training on dryland, and the diet plan unanimously contribute to the swimmer’s lean body.

Not only this, but genetics also has an important role to play in this.

Flexibility of a swimmer’s body is noteworthy

While exercising in the gym allows you the privilege to focus on only one body part at a time, that is not the case with swimming. When you plunge into the pool, your body goes through a huge range of motions. These motions enable the ligaments and the joints to stay loose.

As you swim through the water, your legs make a scissor-like movement, your arms move in the shape of an arc, and your hips remain engaged. Your spine and head also keep twisting from one side to another.

As you stroke the water to push your body forward, your muscles are elongated and your body experiences a stretch from the head to the toe. All these things enhance the flexibility in a swimmer’s body! You must have seen swimmers stretching, clapping, and tapping their hands on their backs before diving into the pool.

How to get a swimmer’s body?

How to get a swimmer's body

If you are willing to develop a swimmer physique, here are a few tips that you might consider following. This section will tell you how efforts during swimming, indulging in dryland exercising, and adhering to a proper diet plan can fetch you the desired results.

Indulge in swimming

If you want to sport that Olympic swimmers body, you need to focus on how you are training while you are in the pool. Swimming is an excellent exercise that will engage all your body parts and ensure a holistic development of the body.

Repetitive motion helps to get voluptuous lats muscles and toned arms

Lats is known as latissimus dorsi, which is the muscle that is found in an individual’s middle back. It is the lats that help in forming the V-shape in the body of the swimmer. Similarly, it has already been mentioned that swimmers have well-defined arms.

The reason why swimmers have huge lats muscles and toned arms is that swimming requires you to make repetitive motion through strokes. As you move through water, the buoyancy of the water will exert a resistance on your arms, thereby causing you to put more effort to move through water. As a result, one will have huge arm muscles and lats muscles.

You can get well-defined abs and a thin waist

If you remain persistent on your swimming efforts, you are likely to carve for yourself a set of well-defined abs and a great waist. When you swim, your core muscles are continuously put to use so that your core can be strengthened. Hence, swimming can definitely help you reach your goal of having a thin waist and perfectly carved out abs.

Burn more calories to lose fat

Apart from being a full-body exercise that puts all your muscles to work, swimming is also a cardio exercise which will improve the rate of metabolism in your body.

When the rate of metabolism in your body increases, it will get easier for you to burn calories. As a result, you can easily get rid of the stubborn fat in your body. If you indulge in swimming on a regular basis, your body will not produce visceral fats, and you will be able to get your dream body very easily.

Therefore, your dream of acquiring a swimmer body begins with plunging into the pool.

Do dryland exercises

Do dryland exercises

Although swimming is a great exercise, one cannot solely rely on it to get into great body shape. Even the best swimmers have to count on dryland exercises.

If you are aiming for a great physique, it is essential to indulge in both cross-fit training and strength training. While strength training will help you to gain strength that is needed to work tirelessly, cross-fit training is great for keeping injuries at bay!

You will have to work on your thighs, abs, calves, chest, shoulder, and back in order to gain power. Listed below are some of the popular and easy-to-perform dryland exercises that can help you get into your desired body shape without getting bulky.

Squat jump

Squat jump is a popular exercise that benefits your calf muscles, quads, and glutes. This exercise can be performed using one’s body weight. This exercise will strengthen your calf, quads, and glutes and provide additional strength to your legs so that you can perform excellently while in the pool.

Tricep extensions

The importance of strong triceps for a swimmer cannot be overlooked. Increasing the strength of the triceps helps to improve stability in the arms and shoulders, better flexibility, and also increases the range of motion during swimming. 

If you wish to improve your tricep strength, you may consider indulging in tricep extensions. This will definitely help you have better, stronger, and well-defined triceps.


If you are looking forward to exercises that will stabilize your core, planks can be an excellent option. Nevertheless, planks are much harder to perform than they look.

Planks stress on the muscles that make up your body’s core. Once you start performing planks, you will get beautifully sculpted abs, which is one of the most important features of a swimmer’s body.

If you perform planks along with a persistent swimming routine, you are sure to reap great benefits out of this.

Lat pull-downs

Pull-downs are extremely beneficial for the strength of the upper body and aids in building of the lat muscles. Nevertheless, pull-downs are extremely hard to perform.

As the name suggests, this exercise targets your latissimus dorsi. You know that swimming provides immense benefits to the latissimus dorsi; you can perform pull-downs to enhance the effect on your lats.


When you perform burpees, you work on the muscles of both your upper and lower body. It is a full-body calisthenic exercise that increases the strength in your muscles and improves your endurance.

Ideally, burpees are expected to strengthen your leg, buttock, arm, hips, shoulders, and chest muscles. When you swim, all these muscles work together and propel your body to move.

Push ups

For anyone who is into fitness, push ups are an indispensable workout. When you perform push ups, your chest and your triceps experience a great exercise session. Not only this, but push ups are also beneficial for the muscles in your back, core, and shoulders.

If you are looking forward to strengthening your arms and core to swim an extra lap in the pool, a couple of push ups might help!

Pull ups

When you swim, your upper body has a massive role to play. Therefore, it is advisable to indulge in exercises that work your upper body. Did you know that performing pull ups can help you target almost all the muscles in your upper body that are engaged in effective swimming?

Pull ups help to improve the physical structure and strength. The unique motion involved in this exercise targets the pectorals, shoulders, upper back, and the biceps. Performing pull ups also helps you focus on your latissimus dorsi, which is one of the often-forgotten muscles of your body when you workout at the gym.


If you are not in the mood to indulge in heavy workout, you may simply settle for squats. Squats are extremely dynamic and a great strength training workout which puts the muscles of the lower body to work.

All these exercises are sure to boost your body strength and will help you perform better!

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important

Apart from the exercises that you perform on dryland and in the swimming pool, another important aspect that you need to take into consideration is the diet that swimmers follow.

Swimming requires a lot of energy. This is because swimmers need to spend high amounts of energy when they swim. Therefore, it is important to ensure the intake of food in the right quantities to make up for the nutrients lost.

Resort to a healthy diet

You need to consume a balanced diet composed of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, to make sure that the swimmer feels, looks, and performs top-notch all the time! Here is how these nutrients act on your body:

  • Carbohydrates: About half the diet of a swimmer is filled with carbohydrates. This is found in food items like oatmeal, bananas, whole-grain toast, etc.
  • Proteins: Proteins ensure the proper muscle recovery. Proteins also help to build strong muscles and bones. Swimmers should incorporate lots of milk, fish, and eggs in their diet to make up for the protein requirement of the body.
  • Fats: Food items like avocados, olive oil, and nut butter are excellent to fulfil the requirement of fat in a swimmer’s body.

Be specific about the time when you consume certain foods

For proper nourishment of a swimmer, it is also important to note when a swimmer is eating which food. Although the results may vary from person to person, this can provide an overall generalized idea:

  • Before the commencement of swimming: Before you plunge into the pool, go for a meal or snack that is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein that can be digested easily. For instance, you can munch on a slice of toast smeared with peanut butter.
  • During swimming: When in the act, swimmers need to opt for food items that can be easily digested. Nevertheless, carbohydrates should be a primary component in the foods. Such foods include apples, raisins, bananas, power bars, etc.
  • After swimming: After you are done swimming, you can opt for food rich in protein. This is because protein is important for the recovery of muscles. When you swim, your muscles undergo wear and tear. Therefore, intake of protein-rich food like meatballs, eggs, spaghetti, after you are done swimming, can have great effects on your body.

However, there are two things that a swimmer should keep in mind for the most effective results: he should keep his fat consumption low, and he should be consistent with his efforts. If he takes care of these two things, VOILA!

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Does swimming make you ripped?

Does swimming make you ripped

Yes, swimming does make you ripped. Your muscles will become more well-defined and ripped.

While going to the gym only focuses on a few body parts and ignores the rest, the benefits of swimming on your body are rather holistic.

The density of water causes it to put resistance on the body. This makes swimming much more effective than any other dryland exercise. Nevertheless, that does not rule out the need for dryland exercises. Swimming, coupled with a healthy diet, are sure to work wonders on your body and help you get your desired body shape.

Why are swimmers so ripped?

Why are swimmers so ripped

The word “ripped” means having well-defined muscles. Swimmers are ripped because swimming puts your whole body to use. Each and every muscle is involved when your body is in motion while swimming.  Here is how swimming helps you have a ripped physique.

Swimming targets all muscles

We have already discussed in the earlier parts of the article that different swimming strokes target different muscles. For instance, the strokes in “butterfly” help to define your arms, shoulders, and chest.

Similarly, backstroke and freestyle ideally incorporate the use of the same muscle groups and same motions. For both these strokes, you have to count on the movements of your torso as you flip through water.

Such movements increase the engagement of the abdominal muscles. Not only this, but this kind of motion also puts the triceps, biceps, and deltoids to work.

Disregarding the kind of strokes you perform, swimming will target your upper and lower back, shoulders, thigh muscles, glutes, arms- basically your entire body!

Swimming helps to burn body fat

One of the ways in which swimming helps in getting a ripped body is that swimming ensures that your body fat is low enough to make sure that your muscles stand out visibly. Swimming exercises are beneficial for both male as well as female swimmers. 

If a male has a body fat percentage less than or equal to 7-9 percent and a female has a body fat percentage ranging between 15-17 percent, their bodies can truly be termed as “ripped.”

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Wrapping up

Hope this gives you an overall idea about the wide array of benefits that swimming has on the body and what are the nitty gritty details that you need to keep in mind when you are counting on swimming to get a sculpted body, like that of a Greek God.

Nevertheless, despite trying all these, your body might still not respond to your efforts like you want it to. Tis might be the point where genetics come into play. Similarly, if someone is genetically inclined that way and is born with what we stereotype as an “Ideal Swimmers body,” it doesn’t mean that the person will automatically be good at the sport.

Every sport has athletes of varying sizes and shapes. As long as they are well trained, that doesn’t hinder their excellence. Even if a swimmer is short and has short limbs, he might be a pro water baby! All it takes is a lot of perseverance and hard work, and it will certainly pay off!