What muscles do work in different swimming styles?

November 22, 2021

November is a very busy month. Everyone has a lot of work to do: reports, presentations, negotiations. Everyone is trying to sort out the greatest number of cases before the upcoming winter holidays. Therefore, there is more and more work and less and less time for sports. Many people are familiar with the feeling when you realize that after a hard day at work you still need to sweat in the gym but to maintain the beauty of the physical shape and build up muscles, it is not necessary to torture yourself in the gym, you can go swimming. Do you know how many muscles are used in swimming? No wonder this sport is considered one of the best for improving the silhouette and musculature because it makes almost the whole body act.

Swimming is the most harmonious way to pay attention to all muscle groups with one workout, without loading the joints at the same time. It gives an even load, increases strength and endurance, has a beneficial effect on the vital systems, and improves immunity. We can talk about its benefits a lot, but today we would like to consider, specifically, which muscles and body parts are used in swimming.

Let's remember what types of swimming are:

  • Front crawl
  • Back crawl
  • Breaststroke
  • Butterfly

What muscles are used in Front crawl?

Front Crawl is a favorite among professional swimmers because it allows them to develop a very high speed. The style requires excellent physical fitness, breathing, and high endurance, as it is considered very energy-consuming. The main load is distributed on the arms and shoulders, and the legs act as stabilizers in space.

Here is a list of muscles that evolve when swimming front crawl:

  • The deltoid muscles of the shoulders, which include the anterior, middle, posterior bundles and the muscles responsible for rotation.
  • Dorsal: trapezoidal, large and small round, diamond-shaped;
  • Triceps and biceps of the shoulder;
  • Subscapularis muscle;
  • Clavicle and sternum muscles;
  • Abdominal external oblique muscle;
  •  Gluteus maximus;
  • Quadriceps and biceps of the thigh;
  •  Gastrocnemius muscle ;
  • Tibialis anterior muscle;
  • The muscles of the palms and feet.

The technique of this style requires a higher tempo, so more energy is spent. So during this swimming workout, the muscles work harder.

What muscles are used in Back crawl?

Unlike the front crawl, this type is considered the least energy-consuming. To increase the load, we recommend swimming quickly and without rest breaks. The hands, legs, and torso are mostly involved.

Check out the list of muscles:

  • Forearm musculature;
  • Biceps and triceps of the arms;
  • Muscles of the palms;
  • Trapezoidal spinal;
  • Torso works as a stabilizer;
  • Large chest muscle;
  • Quadriceps and biceps of the thigh;
  • Gastrocnemius muscle;
  • Tibialis anterior muscle.

Backstroke strengthens the arms and body, less involving the legs in the work. The technique is similar to the front crawl, but here the athlete does not need to focus so much on the breathing, because the face does not immerse into the water, but remains on the surface.

What muscles are used in Breaststroke?

Breaststroke is a style in which all movements of the arms and legs are performed in a horizontal plane. This is the slowest kind but the most comfortable for long-distance swims. The main engine that is engaged in moving the swimmer forward is the leg muscles. 

Breaststroke develops :

  • Quadriceps and biceps of the thigh;
  • All muscles of the buttock;
  • Gastrocnemius muscle;
  • Adductor muscle;
  • Iliopsoas muscle;
  • Abdominal external oblique muscle;
  • The widest dorsal: trapezoidal, large and small round, diamond-shaped;
  • Deltoid muscles of the shoulders;
  • Biceps, triceps, palm muscles;
  • The musculature of the foot.

As you can see, the whole body is involved in the process. It demonstrates the complexity of the impact of water sports on the human body.

We have sorted out which muscles are needed for swimming in 3 styles available to everyone. And now let's look at the list of muscles that work in the process of the most difficult swimming style - Butterfly.

Butterfly is the most spectacular and efficient for pumping muscles and losing weight. It requires tremendous effort and excellent physical fitness. The style allows you to develop high-speed movements. The main muscles that are pumped are located in the upper shoulder girdle area. The back also gets a high load, the legs are secondary:

  • Front, middle, and rear shoulder bundles;
  • Biceps and triceps of the arms;
  • Shoulder and palm muscles;
  • All dorsal muscles
  • Torso;
  •  Chest muscles;
  • Quadriceps of the thigh;
  • The musculature of the feet;
  • All buttock muscles.

The load level is several times higher than, for example, in breaststroke. The style requires high coordination and perfect technique of realization. Swimmers work long and hard on their movements and strengthen their speed results. Amateur athletes rarely choose this style of training as the main one, because it is difficult to study swimming strokes of this style without a coach.

Freestyle swimming is very popular among swimmers, so it is very important to answer the question of which muscles are involved in it, but first, you should understand what freestyle is.

Freestyle is a combination of all the above-mentioned types of swimming. A swimmer can change them during the passing of the race. The exceptions are integrated swimming and combined relay race, in which freestyle is any other way, except for the method of backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

The swimmer must touch the pool wall with any part of their body when turning and at the finish.

Therefore, the muscles which are used during freestyle swimming are the muscles that work in all other types.


Swimming is one of the most valuable ways to evenly develop all muscle groups in the shortest possible time, increase strength indicators and strengthen the body.

So, swimmers who prefer front or back crawl have a highly developed torso. Adherents of the breaststroke are endowed with pumped muscles of the femoral section. Fans of the butterfly style possess the powerful muscles of the upper shoulder girdle and the musculature of the legs.

Swimming perfectly replaces exercises for different muscle groups in the gym and brings a lot of fun. In addition, classes in the water help fight stress, which is very healthy after a difficult day at work.

Remember that all swimming styles have different effects on the figure. Therefore, if your target in swimming is a beautiful figure, then it is better to change styles. Usually, swimmers most often have a "V-shaped" figure due to the active use of shoulders and back.

 In particular, the professionals participating in the competition train in order to swim as fast as possible. To do this, they perform special exercises that prepare them for the distance by developing specific muscles. The imbalance in the development of different muscle groups, in fact, is their goal.

That's why it is necessary to vary them! Choose the exercises that suit you more and enjoy your favorite sport! In a healthy body - a healthy mind!

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