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How can I swim without building my 'swimmers shoulders'?

Hi, I used to swim competitively, and have recently started using swimming as a good form of exercise. I have a really trim upper half, but bigger lower half (typical pear shape i know!). I really want to lose a little, and tone up my lower half but without bringing back the big 'swimmers shoulders' I once owned. I am having 1200 calories per day (with weekends off). How can I avoid bulking up on top? Thank you


Our expert says...


To ensure you get the desired physical changes from your swimming without muscle building then I would recommend the following pointers:

- try to focus on more consistent tempo swimming as opposed to interval or sprint swimming (power training leads promotes more muscle size changes, whereas consistent speed, endurance work promotes lean muscle tissue)

- Ensure variety in your training – I.e. include other types of training and avoid using only swimming for your fitness. Repeating the same stimulus can lead to overloading of specific muscles with resultant long-term shortening – giving a bigger, swollen appearance to the muscles

 - Within your swimming sessions, ensure you involve lengths where you emphasise your legs more for propulsion through the water – using a float and without

The commitment of competitive swimming is one of the main causes of increased shoulder shaping, so you should find that a more leisurely approach won’t result in the same outcome.

Try the above suggestions and try not to judge your upper body shape/size immediately after swimming as the muscles in the shoulders and arms will be a tad swollen immediately after a swim workout due to the blood flow and heat dissipation but it is only temporary.

Hope this helps,


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