Information pursuant to art. 13 of Legislative Decree 196/2003 and of art. 13 of EU Regulation 2016/679 of 27 April 2016 This site uses third-party cookies to know your preferences and send you advertising in line with your interests. For more information or to refuse consent to these cookies, access the extended Cookie Policy Statement - Cookie policy. By clicking on "Accept", scrolling through this page or clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Cookie policy.

What muscles are swimming styles developed?

In the Crawl and Dolphin, from a biomechanical point of view, the predominantly engaged muscles are:

  • large pectoral, large dorsal, arm muscles (biceps, brachialis, triceps), shoulders (deltoid, rotator cuff).

These muscles listed above perform most of the propulsive work.

The muscles engaged as stabilizers are:

  1. scapula stabilizers:  
    small pectoral, rhomboid, scapula elevator, trapezius, anterior serratus
  2. the abdominal stabilizers:
    transverse, rectus abdominis, internal oblique, internal oblique, spinal erectors

The legs have a simultaneous propulsive and stabilizing function and engage in order:

  • ileo-psoas, rectus femoris, quadriceps, vast lateral, vast intermediate, vast medial, large and middle gluteus, ischiocrural muscles (biceps femoris, semitendinus and semomembranosus), gastrocnemius and soleus).

In backstroke, muscular engagement is essentially the same, the greatest contribution is given by the large backbone in the initial phase of the stroke.

The breaststroke is characterized by more powerful muscle contractions and a different biomechanics.The muscles that come into play are:

  • large pectoral, large dorsal, paraspinal muscles, shoulders (anterior deltoid), arms (biceps and triceps brachialis).

The role of the stabilizing musculature of the scapulae and of the lumbar and abdominal region is fundamental.

The musculature of the legs comes into operation with a different order and again with greater intensity: buttocks, ischiocrural muscles, rectus femoris, quadriceps, adductors, calf muscles, rectus femoris, ileo-psoas. "


Swimming is a sport characterized by a medium-high energy expenditure.

Depending on the intensity level at which it is practiced, the caloric consumption varies between 10 and 25 kcal / minute, on average 600 kcal / hour; it is lower than that of a runner or a cyclist.

The better the technical quality of the swimmer, the less its energy expenditure.

Calorie consumption increases exponentially as speed increases in freestyle, back and butterfly, while in a more linear fashion in the frog style. Swimming is a mixed "aerobic-anaerobic" sporting discipline, in which mainly CARBOHYDRATES and LIPIDS are used to meet energy needs.

The greater the intensity of training, the greater the demand for carbohydrates.

The food carbohydrates are composed of complex starches (pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals ...) with gradual energetic release and simple sugars (eg glucose and fructose contained in honey, fruit ...) with immediate release of energy, defined at high index glycemic.

In the swimmer's diet carbohydrates must be taken regularly, both during meals and during training sessions.

The human body has a limited reserve of carbohydrates (approximately 300-500 g which corresponds to 1200-1600 Kcal) which are deposited in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen after the intake of starchy foods.

In particular, it is important to favor complex carbohydrates from pasta and brown rice, or Maltodestrine.

On the other hand, simple sugars, glucose and sucrose, provide immediate but slow-lasting energy.

At an initial energetic blaze, then follows a possible condition of weakness, asthenia, hypotension and / or hunger crisis.

Simple sugars are to be favored only in situations of "crisis" and after the effort, for a rapid restoration of glycogen stores.

The wide commitment of the muscular mass of the swimmer imposes however also a high attention to the intake of PROTEIC FOOD, specifically able to support the efficiency of muscular and endocrine-immune tissues.

During prolonged efforts, they also contribute to energy needs by turning into sugars and maintaining the efficiency of the immune, endocrine, nervous and digestive systems.

Practical instructions for training:

BREAKFAST (it should never be skipped): with toasted bread or toasted bread with jam + milk or tea or yogurt, fresh fruit juice or shake (abundant ration).

SNACK: sweet or savory baked goods (crakers, schiacciatine) or sandwich with sausages
thin + fruit

LUNCH (at least 1 and a half hours before training): with a plate of pasta or rice dressed with oil, grana, tomato (100 gr) + an apple-like fruit.

SNACK: after training it must be abundant (sandwich with thin sausages, or homemade cakes, biscuits, bread and jam;

DINNER: with first course + second course (meat or fish) + fresh or cooked vegetables + fruit (normal ration).

The training periodization consists in the scheduling of the workouts to be carried out during the whole racing season, which is divided into periods and sub-periods, depending on the achievement of maximum performance during the most important races.

This is a practice used by all high level athletes.

The training periodization is based on principles of training theory valid for all endurance sports, and therefore the way of planning the season is exactly the same for all types of sports, at least with regard to volume variables, frequency and intensity.

The language of periodization

The training periodization has its own specific language, which includes some words with a precise meaning.
We begin by considering the various periods, each of which focuses on specific characteristics.

GENERAL PERIOD: this is a period characterized by quantity, that is, a high volume of training, but of low intensity. In this period the technical exercises are important, which must be carried out at low intensity, concentrating above all on the technical gesture. The aim of this period is to restore and develop aerobic capacity, with exercises at pace A1 and A2; to build strength, especially dry with exercises with overloads (in the gym); and to analyze and improve the technique in various styles.

Added to this are the speed coordination workouts (C3 exercises), ie short shots to maintain the ability to swim at high rates without losing efficiency, but without these exercises having an important metabolic involvement (they must not lead to a accumulation of lactic acid, this is not the moment).

SPECIAL PERIOD: in this period the intensity is preferred, but always maintaining high volumes of training. The aim is to train the specific characteristics needed to express the maximum performance in the race, to maintain the general qualities and to adapt the technique to the race pace. Alongside the A2 workouts, we introduce the workouts B1, B2, C1 and C2 and the training D, ie the race pace. The A2 workouts remain, indeed they still represent the most numerous sessions, but they are recovery workouts.

SPECIFIC PERIOD: in this period the intensity increases again, but the volume goes down, in this way the athlete can concentrate all the energies in search of maximum performance. The A1 and A2 exercises decrease, leaving room for more intense workouts. We start to specifically take care of the various stages of the race (start, turns, final shot, etc.).

TAPERING: this is the discharge period near the race, usually two weeks. The intensity is kept high by decreasing the volume a lot, in this way the athlete will experience a considerable increase in physical and mental energy, to be concentrated in the search for maximum performance in the race.

Let's now consider macroperiods: macrocycle, mesocycle, week.

MACROCYCLE: it is a period that lasts several months (usually from 12 to 24 weeks), and consists of a complete cycle of training, during which all periods are consumed, from general to tapering, and ends with an important race. The macrocycle at the beginning of the season will foresee a rather long general period (6-8 weeks), in the second and third macrocycles, being the athlete already trained, the general period can be shortened, but always depending on the length of the total life of the macrocycle.

If the macrocycle is long, the general period should be lengthened anyway, because the special and specific periods can not be extended for too many weeks, it would risk overtraining.

MESOCYCLE: it is a period of one month, then divided into four weeks. Usually the mesocycle is used to divide the macrocycles, inserting a week of exhaust (where the training volume is reduced drastically) every 4 weeks.

WEEK: it is the basic unit of a training cycle, during the week the days of training and rest are described.

Periodization in practice
The periodization is based on the physiological principle of supercompensation, which, as we said at the beginning of the article, is the basis for the planning of training in all endurance sports. I remember once again that the intensity represents the speed of swimming, while the volume represents the miles of training.

The classic periodization foresees that the athlete starts the season (or the macrocycle) with increasing training volumes and low intensity, with short intensive sessions to keep alive the competitive technical gesture at race speed; this period (the GENERAL PERIOD described above) serves to build a sufficiently solid aerobic base to face the toughest workouts that will come later.

IThe next period provides a substantial increase in intensity, where initially the volume remains almost constant (SPECIAL PERIOD), and then decreases as you approach the tender period (SPECIFIC PERIOD AND TAPERING).

It is important to understand that the intensity of the workouts that the athlete will be able to bear during the special and specific periods is proportional to the volume of training done in the general period! For this reason the general period, where basically the workouts are very long, but of low intensity (they might seem that is not very productive), it is so important, representing in the example, 16 weeks out of 49 (ie one week in 3).

Then take an example of a special period

From week 21 to 23, the workouts are distributed like this:

  • A2 12 sessions
  • B1 9 sessions
  • B2 6 sessions
  • C1 10 sessions
  • C2 3 sessions

We see that even in this case the low intensity workouts (A2) represent as much as 30% of the athlete's workouts.

Here, however, these types of training have a different meaning than those of the general period, in this case the training at a mild pace are used to maintain aerobic capacity, to refine the technique and as recovery workouts.

We must consider that this athlete trains five days a week, twice a day, and rests only on Sunday: it is obvious that he can not always do intense workouts, and for this reason a good portion of these are aerobic and technical.