how to get a swimmer's body

How to Get a Swimmer’s Body? 6 Steps You Should Follow

The number one way to get a swimmer’s body is to do a lot of swimming. Supplement your water time with strength training workouts with an emphasis on training the lats, shoulders, and quadriceps. Follow a low carb, high protein, and medium healthy fat diet.

Here are six tips to help you get a swimmer’s body.

1. Get Strict on Your Diet

The lean, athletic swimmer’s physique doesn’t come about from swimming alone.  To get a swimmer’s body you also need to be strict about what they are eating. If you want to get the definition (including visible abs) that you see on top-level swimmers, you will need to bring your levels of body fat down to 10-13 percent body composition.

To get your body fat down, follow a low-carb diet that is high in protein and moderate in fats. Get your nutrition from protein sources such as chicken, eggs, fish, and protein shakes. Healthy fats should come from olive oil, walnuts, avocado, and coconut oil.

Here is an overview of the types of macronutrients that you need to be eating to develop the perfect swimmer body.


Your swimming workouts, along with what you do in the gym, put stress on your muscles which causes micro-tears in the muscle fibers. These tears need to be repaired and rebuilt. When you provide your body with amino acids from protein, your muscles are able to get that vital recovery to grow back a little bigger and stronger. 

Make it your aim to consume 40 percent of your calories from protein foods. Plan to eat 5 times per day, with meals paced about three hours apart. At every meal, you should consume 20-30 grams of protein. That works out to a serving of protein that is about the size of your clenched fist.

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Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source. You should focus on excellent sources of low glycemic index carbs such as oatmeal, bananas, and vegetables. You need to avoid high glycemic carbohydrate foods that are filled with sugar. 


Healthy fats are essential to overall health and well-being. They also provide a secondary energy source for the body. They should make up about 25 percent of your daily nutritional intake. 

2. Up Your Swim Time

You may have heard it said that you cannot learn to swim on dry land. By the same token, you cannot develop a swimmer’s body without swimming. You need to swim several times per week in order to build a swimmer’s body.

Every time you get in the pool, have a goal that you are working towards. It could be a set number of laps or a speed goal around lap times. As you achieve your goal, set a new one to ensure that you are constantly progressing.

3. Gym Training

Supplement your swimming sessions with 2-3 entire body gym workouts per week. A full-body exercise routine should include leg exercises such as squats and leg extensions, as well as those for the upper body. Specifically, you should focus on building shoulders with presses and lateral raises.

A beneficial exercise plan to develop the classic swimmer physique should also work the back with exercises such as pull-ups and bent-over rowing.

You should keep your exercise for swimmers reps between 10 and 20. Your goal is to build muscular endurance rather than brute strength and bulky muscles. 

4. Home Training

In addition to your strength training sessions in the gym, you should also do some calisthenics exercises to help develop the broad shoulders and ripped ab muscles that you see in elite swimmers.

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Do a couple of strength training sessions each week that involves doing such exercises as push-ups, handstand push-ups, and the wall sit. Then add an ab routine that includes crunches, leg raises, and oblique twists to develop strong core muscles.

5. Rowing Machine

You should spend time each week on a rowing machine to help you develop a swimmer’s physique. Rowing is great because it engages nearly all the same muscles as you work when you are swimming. These are the lats, shoulders, triceps, and abdominals.

While you can train these body parts individually with specific weight training exercises, there is great benefit in working them as a whole the way that rowing does. It will improve your swimming coordination and fluidity.

Rowing is also a great calorie-burning form of aerobic activity. This will help you to burn off the extra calories needed to bring out that ideal swimmer body definition. 

6. HIIT Training

The ideal swimmer physique has a lean body mass and is athletic with very little extra body fat. To achieve that sort of look, you need to have a high caloric burn. The most effective form of cardio to blast away excess body fat is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). 

HIIT training will have you performing quick, intense bursts of cardio followed by short periods of recuperation. These are repeated for a number of rounds. You can combine HIIT with rowing.

Begin with a 2-minute warm-up. Then sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Now pause for 10 seconds and then do it all over again. Continue for 8 rounds and then finish with a 2-minute warm down.

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Final Thoughts

The classic swimmer body is tall and athletic with broad shoulders, a V-shaped upper body, ripped abs, and higher than average body strength. You now have a six-step plan to get your own swimmer’s body. Follow the plan and you will reap the rewards!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a  good body from just swimming?

Yes, you can get a good body from just swimming. Swimming is a very cardiovascular type of exercise, so it will improve your heart and lung efficiency. The resistance of the water will also develop muscular strength and mass through the upper body muscles. There is also a lot of calorie burn which will help to keep your body fat levels low.

Why do swimmers have skinny legs?

Swimmers have skinny legs because their legs are not actually working against the resistance of the water when they are swimming. All of that resistance is taken by the upper body. As a result, more muscle will be developed in the upper body than the lower body when you are swimming. You can balance your physique by doing lower body training in the gym.

Does swimming reduce body fat?

Yes, swimming will reduce body fat. Anything done in water takes 6 times more effort than on dry land. That means that you will burn a lot more calories when you are swimming than when doing on-land exercise. Those calories will come from stored body fat. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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