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How to Swim For Exercise without getting Broad Shoulders

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If you know me, then you know I’m all about feminine proportions. That means not having one are of the body much bigger than others (unless it’s butt and boobs) or having a physique that look masculine.

By masculine I mean broad shoulders, large muscular thighs, back, and calves, and thick necks. These are all very masculine; if you don’t believe me stop a random man on the street, ask him to describe his ideal body, and you’ll hear all of the above.

So when my partner surprised me with 3 months worth of swimming lessons – I know swimming basics but cannot tread water and don’t feel comfortable in the deep end – I was conflicted.

Swimming is an excellent way to burn calories. It’s great for cardio and resistance training, low impact, fun, and is a head to toe activity (works a lot of different parts of the body at one time), so I was looking forward to having two days a week in which to switch up my workout routine. Variety is not only the spice of life, but a surefire way to stick to your fitness plans.

However, I am well aware of the physique of female swimmers: see my definition of masculine above. They are typically shaped like inverted triangles (chiseled shoulders that taper down to the hips), which is great if that’s the look you’re going for – many are not. Additionally, once you get broad shoulders it’s hard to get rid of.

Being the life hacker I am, I decided to do some research to see if there are any strokes or ways to train that would put less emphasis on the developing the shoulders and biceps. Some people say it can’t be done but I know if there’s a will, there’s a way. Here’s how to add swimming to your workout regimen without getting broad shoulders:

  1. Stick to swimming styles that don’t require much use of your upper body – fin style, eel style, back stroke, and  are in. Butterfly, front crawl, breast stroke and freestyle are out.
  2. Use a kick board and just work on different kicking styles across the water.
  3. If you do use strokes that require use of your shoulder, slow down. The harder and faster you swim, the more burn you’ll get. Burn = build.
  4. Limit swimming to 30 – 40 mins, once or twice a week. If you train like a competitive swimmer, don’t expect not to look like one. Be aware that the more advanced you get at swimming the more efficient you become and the less calories you burn doing the same workout.

Before anyone gets offended that everyone doesn’t want huge shoulders, note that I acknowledge hopping in the water once or twice won’t make your shoulders and back blow up. However, any training that you do will alter your shape. Even a little growth in these areas might not be desirable to some, and that’s okay!

Follow the above tips and you’ll be able to get the best of both worlds – a new way to work out and burn calories, and a physique that makes you happy.

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