How To Get A Swimmer’s Body (Follow These 7 Steps)

Elite swimmers always look incredible. From those v-shaped torsos to their powerful lats, it is easy to wonder just how you can look like that.

Curious to know what goes into a “swimmers body?” Dive into the facts with us and discover the best way to make a splash at the pool this summer.

What goes into the perfect swimmer physique, and do their physical variations make a fast swimmer?

Competitive swimmers need to balance the following elements to maintain the right body composition for professional sports.

1. Focus On HIIT

The ideal swimmer’s body is tall, has little body fat, and is covered in lean muscles.

Bulky muscles will only increase the drag underwater, making it more difficult to swim and resulting in slower lap times.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, consists of quick, intense bursts of activity followed by short rests on repeat for several sets.

Many swimmers generally like to include HIIT through rowing or running as part of their routine as it allows them to maintain a faster swimming pace and shred excess body fat.

Because of these benefits, HIIT is a vital part of dryland training for elite swimmers.

Swimmer Doing the Butterfly Stroke

2. Follow a Strict Nutrition Regime & Diet

The best swimmer’s daily routines and competitions mean that their calorie burn is insanely high.

Getting the right fuel is essential to an athlete’s health. It could be said that a swimmer’s success lies on their plate.

To keep up, they need to follow a healthy diet with plenty of calories and nutrients for muscle recovery and maintenance.

A delicate balance of their macros will ensure that they have enough to recover and maintain both their body and performance with the proper levels of carbs, proteins, and fats.

Most swimmers look to bring their body fat down to around 10-15 percent[1]; they often seek the help of professional nutritionists and trainers to achieve such a feat.

Of course, each swimmer's diet will look different based on what is best for them, but here are some things to bear in mind.


Protein is essential to building muscles and strong bones.[2] The best swimmers focus on eating around five times a day, with each meal having a protein the size of their fist on the side.

You can get protein from whole foods, such as fish, lean meats, eggs, milk, and yogurt. Some swimmers choose to take supplements to maintain their ideal swimmer's body.


It has been suggested that athletes should have around 0.5-0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight to maintain their training for competition.[3]

The perfect swimmer’s body needs carbs in order to keep up with the competition, but the type of carbs they ingest is vital.

If you are considering training for the perfect swimmer body, you need to focus on getting your carbs from whole foods such as oatmeal, bananas, brown rice, butternut squash, cereal, lentils, and vegetables.


Healthy fats are another vital element of a swimmer’s diet. By getting a small amount of fat from natural foods, they can gain essential nutrients.

Some of the best sources of healthy fats include avocados, coconut oil, nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, and eggs.

Supplements (legal)

With such busy schedules, it can be hard to make time to eat enough to maintain a swimmer’s uniquely powerful body.

Some swimmers take legal supplements to fill any nutritional gaps they may have. It varies depending on the athlete in question, but some common supplements they may take include:

  • Fish oil
  • Protein shakes
  • Multivitamins

3. Increase Your Swim Time

Wondering how to get a swimmer's body? You have to get in the pool, of course. It is not possible to get that perfect body without swimming.

The more you swim, the more you develop and define those key muscle groups that professionals rely on.

Broad shoulders, a v-shaped torso, massive triceps, defined abs, swimmer lats - they all come from committing to regular pool time and a good diet.

Start with frequent swimming, having a goal in mind for each session. Then, slowly build up the intensity of your workouts to avoid injury and see proper progress.

We recommend getting in the pool 2-3 times a week alongside dryland training. If you are struggling, contact a qualified trainer to craft a personalized training program.

4. Focus on Endurance Training

Swimmers often participate in endurance events, making strengthening their entire body vital.

A dedicated swim regimen does help with endurance, but dryland training at the gym is another key component to consider.

After all, repetitive swimming strokes require strength to pull off and require strong core muscles, back muscles, and strong shoulders.

We recommend going to the gym 2-3 times a week alongside your pool training. While there, train your upper body and lower body as well as your core muscles.

The major powerhouse muscles for a swimmer are the latissimus dorsi and the shoulders, quads, and triceps - focus on those.

Aim to do strength training and HIIT training while at the gym. It is vital to only do around 10-20 reps per set. You are going for muscular endurance rather than bulk.

Some moves to incorporate into your routine include:

Squat Jump

Squat jumps are great leg exercises that can help you achieve a powerful kick.[4]

Triceps Extension

Working your triceps is essential for powerful strokes while performing each type of stroke. Tricep extensions are a great way to develop those key muscles.[5]

Also Check Out - 10 Effective Dumbbell Tricep Exercises


Planks help stabilize and strengthen your core, which plays a vital role in a swimmer’s body both in and out of the pool.

Lat Pulldown

A lat pulldown is a strength training move designed to work your latissimus dorsi, creating that powerful v shape in your torso.

See Related - Lat Pulldown Benefits Explained

Overhead Squat

Overhead squats work your glutes and quads. They also help you control your core while improving your position in the water.[6]

Crunch Press

Crunch presses consist of doing a crunch and a dumbbell press at the top of each rep. This is a great strength training move for your core and shoulders.

Swimmer Doing a Breast Stroke in a Pool

5. Build Your Body's Flexibility

Flexibility is essential when it comes to a swimmer's physique, particularly in the ankles and shoulders.

Flexible and mobile ankles are key to a powerful kick as they increase the surface area of the foot, like flippers. Flexible ankles work your glutes and quads, providing more force to each kick.

Flexible shoulders help with rotation and maintaining a hold on the water as the swimmer's arm completes the stroke.

Stretching regularly and performing dynamic stretch warm-ups can help improve performance and prevent injury, alongside the following moves.

Read Also - Best Ankle Mobility Exercises


Yoga is a really common way for swimmers to improve or maintain their flexibility. It is possible to find a local class or try it online in the comfort of your home.

Check out all the different types of yoga and pick one that is best for you and your lifestyle.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a regular part of many athletes’ routines. It involves rolling each muscle group along a firm foam roller to aid in recovery.

By performing this regularly, athletes can release any muscle knots, increase comfort, and reduce inflammation in their muscles.

See Also - 9 Reasons You Should Be Foam Rolling

Mobility Work

Mobility work is a key pillar of dryland training for swimmers due to its aid in performance and mobility in the water.

6. Incorporate Calisthenics Into Workouts

Calisthenics improves your strength, flexibility, and endurance during training.

By carefully choosing certain moves with calisthenic properties, you can help develop broad shoulders, a thin waist, and defined muscles.

Some moves we recommend in your dryland training include:

  • Push-ups
  • Wall sits
  • Crunches
  • Leg raises
  • Russian twists
  • Dips
  • Flys
  • Supermans
  • Back extensions
  • Bridges
  • Lunges
  • Step-ups
  • Burpees

We also created a complete full-body calisthenics workout plan for beginners and advanced gym-goers. Give it a try and see if it helps improve your overall fitness!

7. Have a Rest Day

Training hard is all well and good, but you will hurt yourself if you do not make space for rest.

So be sure to not only do your warm-ups, cool-downs, and foam rolls but also take at least one day off a week from training.

By taking a break and eating well, your muscles can heal properly and help you make progress.

Group of Swimmers Starting a Race Underwater

What Are the Hallmarks of the Swimmer’s Physique?

Professional and competitive swimmers like Michael Phelps tend to have certain physical characteristics.

These pros are often over 6 feet tall, have long limbs, broad shoulders, powerful lats, and a v-shaped body.

In addition, large hands and feet act like oars, while a thin waist and defined abs aid in maintaining a straight line and natural buoyancy in the water.

Some of these features can come naturally, like height or long limbs.

A taller swimmer does not have to work as hard as a shorter swimmer to go the same distance due to their long arms and limbs.

Many of the other features, however, come from countless repetitions of strokes and kicks in the pool or at the gym.

Building shoulders, spending time on the rowing machine, and eating healthy foods all play a role in finding that perfect body.

Anaerobic training and aerobic activity can strengthen a swimmer's muscles, naturally improving their repetitive stroke motions.

Body Muscles Developed When Swimming In The Pool

We have briefly touched on what muscles make swimmers stand out among athletes, especially among Olympic weightlifting pros.

There are no official guidelines for the perfect human body measurements in swimming, but these muscles are key to fast swimming and fighting wave drag.

Lats and Triceps

Your latissimus dorsi, or the large muscle in the middle of your back, is a major powerhouse in every swimming stroke.

When combined with large shoulders, training this area gives a distinct v-shaped appearance to your torso.

Your triceps, the muscles on the back of your upper arms, are typically used in the propulsion phase of a stroke. By working these muscles, you can increase the power of each stroke.

Leg Muscles

For most swimmers, the leg muscles are lean and firm but not as defined as those on both the core and upper limbs.

This is because your legs do not face the drag that your upper body does while in the water.

This does not mean that you can skip doing leg exercises, however, as they are vital during turns, push off, and movement in general.


Broad and flexible shoulders are key for swimmers during each stroke while in the water. They aid in executing strokes, facing drag, and general movement while swimming.

Abs and Waist

Other critical elements of a swimmer's body are a thin waist and defined abs. This is because a strong core helps stabilize the swimmer and hold position throughout each lap.

Long hours of swimming practice will work the core muscles, giving them definition and thinning the waist.

Related Article - Best Gym Equipment For Abs & Love Handles

Swimmer Doing a Free Style Stroke Outdoors

Frequently Asked Swimmer’s Body Questions

Are people born with a swimmer’s body?

Some people are born with certain advantageous traits for a swimmer’s body, such as tall height, above-average joint flexibility, and more. However, other aspects of the swimmer’s physique can be achieved through strength training, HIIT, and swimming regularly.

How long does it take to get a swimmer’s body?

How long it takes to get a swimmer’s body will depend on many factors, including your fitness, goals, resources, lifestyle habits, physical health, and more. We recommend working with qualified professional nutritionists and trainers and making time for swimming to get started.

Can you get a good body from just swimming?

It is possible to get some healthy exercise by swimming regularly. However, eating healthy foods and resting properly are also key elements in staying fit and healthy.

Can swimming make you gain weight?

Swimming can make you gain muscle through movement and repetitive movements of certain muscles. As muscle is more dense than fat, this can cause you to gain bulk or ‘weight’ over time. However, this sport shreds fat and gives lean muscle, which can be what some strive towards.


As you can see, professional swimmers like Michael Phelps need to train hard and eat well to earn their unique physiques.

Getting a swimmer’s body requires discipline and commitment when it comes to training, diet, and mental fortitude.

With consistency in your dryland training and swimming, you can shred fat and gain lean muscles.

If you want a swimmer’s body, we recommend slowly working your way up to more intense regimes.

Make consistent room for pool time and strength training alongside a balanced diet and professional guidance for the best results.

Both female swimmers and male ones can benefit from using our advice to gain the perfect swimmer’s body.



Paul J

Last Updated on January 17, 2023