Does Swimming Tone Your Body? (How Long It Takes)


We all know that swimming is an excellent exercise for the cardiovascular system. It helps you increase lung capacity and build endurance. But can it also tone your body?

Swimming has proven to tone many parts of the human body. Being a full-body workout, swimming works on almost all muscle groups especially the back, shoulder, chest, and glutes. However though, depending on which stroke is used, it can tone certain parts faster than the others.

The Swimming Effects on Body Shape

The human body is very adaptive. The more you push it to the limit, the better it learns. If you give it the same push, again and again, it will change its size and shape so that push gets easier to handle.

The swimming effect can be described in this way. When you swim, you throw your body to a challenge. The muscles start to work against the resistance of water. If there is sufficient nutrition supply, some muscle tissues which broke in the process will grow back stronger and bigger. You will progressively see this as a change in your body shape.

Even though swimming works on every muscle group, the toning, aka. the swimming effect is most visible on the following parts of the body:

  • Shoulder
  • Chest
  • Arm
  • Back
  • Lat
  • Abdominal
  • Glute
  • Thigh
  • Hamstring
  • Leg
YouTube video
Video Creator: MySwimPro

Does Swimming Make Your Arms Bigger?

Swimming involves a lot of movements and rotations of the arms. In freestyle, when you reach forward with one of your hands and push the water backward, your shoulders, biceps, and triceps get engaged. Repetition of this over a longer period of time will develop into bigger arms.

When swimming is paired with a calorie-deficit diet, it will shred the excess fat around the arms and shoulders. The muscles will be then more visible giving it a toned appearance. Your arms can also look taller after you have lost a certain amount of fat around them.

Can Swimming Tone Your Stomach?

The swimming styles that contract the core will engage the abdominal muscles on each move. Doing it repetitively over a course of time will make your stomach stronger and toned.

The butterfly stroke is a good candidate for this goal. When you send both of your hands from the upright position to the back of your hips, you contract the abs. In one run, you end up doing this a lot of times with good momentum which offers sufficient exercise for your abdominal muscles to grow.

Does Swimming Tone Your Bum?

For being a full-body exercise, swimming works the bum (gluteal muscles) just as well as the other body areas. The swim styles that involve kicks or movement of the legs have a more prominent impact on the glutes and should be the right direction to go.


In breaststroke, the glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs get activated by every whip made with the toes. It doesn’t have to be limited to breaststroke. Kickboard on the side of the pool or treading the water will also help with the development of toned buttocks.

Which Strokes Tone Which Parts of the Body?

StrokeToning Area
Freestyle (Front Crawl)Chest, Arms, Back, Core, Glutes
BackstrokeChest, Back, Core, Glutes, Hamstrings
BreaststrokeShoulders, Chest, Lat, Thigs, Hamstrings, Legs
ButterflyShoulders, Chest, Arms, Core, Back
P.S. Swimming works all parts of the body. This table represents where each of these strokes puts the highest impact.

How Long Does It Take for Swimming to Tone Your Body?

How long swimming takes to tone the body depends on the frequency, intensity, techniques, and the body itself. Although there is no exact number, a slim person who swims 5-6 hours a week with proper techniques and good intensity can see some toning around the upper body area in 4-8 weeks.

That statement can only hold for a slim person who doesn’t have much fat. The biggest enemy of a toned body is the layer of fat that sits on top of it. If you have a high percentage of fat, your efforts will not be visible until you cut some of it. Swimming can help you burn calories fast, however, that is just a small piece of the big fat loss puzzle.

How Many Times a Week Should You Swim to Tone Faster?

There is no easy to say how many times you should swim to see some fast toning. An average person should try 3-4 times a week (30-60 minutes/session – moderate intensity) to meet recommended weekly activity for adults if that is the only way he/she stays active.

Rest, you can tune the frequency and intensity up depending on what your goals are. A person who swims 5 times a week will technically have faster gain than the person doing 3 times a week. The same goes for the intensity.


Part of this also depends on that person’s fitness level. A better and more practical approach is to evaluate your current fitness level and set achievable goals. If you have some fat on your body, one goal could be losing 1-2 kilos a month over three months period. Or if you are already slim, you can focus on gaining 0.5-1 kilo a month.

Swimming is going to provide you with the necessary training for the muscle groups. It is up to your dietary habit and lifestyle whether you will gain or lose weight. For a visibly toned body, you will of course need to be on the lower end of the body fat.