Muscle Breakdown: What is Truly Strengthened in the Freestyle Stroke?

Swimming is an awesome sport for many reasons.
It’s a low impact, cardiovascular exercise which can help improve overall health & fitness. Swimming benefits include improved strength and endurance, as well as muscle toning and weight control.
It also trains nearly every major muscle group in the body. Here we take a look at which muscles are put to use in the popular Freestyle Stroke (also known as the Front Crawl).

Upper Limbs and Neck

The arms, shoulders and neck get a great workout with the Freestyle Stroke. You might be surprised to learn that even the hand muscles are used!
The specific muscles are as follows: Sternocleidomastoid (neck); Deltoids (shoulders); Biceps/Triceps (upper arms); Brachioradialis/Flexor Digitorum Profundus (forearms); Thenars (hands)

Front and Back Trunk

The back, chest and abs are extensively used during Freestyle swimming. Here are the specific muscles used:
Pectorals (chest); Serratus Anterior (sides); Internal & External Oblique (inner/outer abdominal muscles); Rectus Abdominus (abdominal muscles); Latissimus Dorsi (upper side back muscles); Trapezius/Spinus Erectors (spinal chord support muscles); Teres Major & Minor/Trapezius (upper back between shoulders); Rhomboid Major & Minor (upper back)

Lower Limbs and Trunk

Freestyle swimming is the perfect workout for your butt and legs, too. You’ll definitely feel the burn in those areas after a lengthy swim. Even the foot muscles are put to good use. Here are the specific muscles used:
Gluteus Maximus (buttocks); Abductor Magnus (groin); Quadriceps (front of upper leg); Hamstrings (back of upper leg); Gastrocneumius (back of lower leg); Tibialis Anterior (front of lower leg); Abductor Digiti Minimi (feet)

Avoid Muscle Injury

Although swimming is a gentle workout for your joints and muscles, it’s important to ease into any workout gradually.
Too much too soon could cause muscle strain and soreness. Stretching and flexibility training are great ways to help avoid this.
Listening to music while you work out has been shown to improve performance. And with our waterproof iPod, you’ll be able to get the same benefits from listening to music, whether in or out of the pool! It also makes an excellent Christmas gift, so check it out for all the swimmers on your list.

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