View Full Version : fat loss vs muscle gain

July 26th, 2007, 02:12 PM
First off I'm new here and this is my first post so if this question has been answered on a different post, sorry.

I come from a bodybuilding background and recently started swimming and liked it so much that for the summer I'm forgoing lifting for swimming. I've been swiming four times a week now for about four months and I've lost about 8 lbs - as far as I can tell it's all body fat. My question is, can I build muscle mass by just swimming or will I just be reducing body fat? Also is it possible to burn muscle? In other words could some of my weight loss be muscle loss? The reason I ask is that a couple of my friends have told me that my back is getting broader - I haven't really noticed.

July 26th, 2007, 06:19 PM
My question is, can I build muscle mass by just swimming or will I just be reducing body fat?

I don't see why you wouldn't build muscle mass in the muscles that you are using to swim.

When I started swimming Masters (20 years ago!) I outgrew all of my shirts and blouses. They all got too tight in the upper back, shoulders, and upper arms. It was a great excuse to go out and buy new clothes. :)

Anna Lea

Concho Pearl
July 26th, 2007, 06:31 PM
I'm not sure about lossing muscle. I know I've been back swimming for over a year and haven't lost a pound. But I've gone from a size 10 shorts to almost a 4 ( if I haven't eaten -lol)
I want to loose about 5 more lbs, but it's not coming off.

Have you tried hand pattles, they will help build your arms and fins- during light sets- will help build the legs up. I don' t use them during my hard work out.

Try doing some butterfly is a great core body exercise too.

July 26th, 2007, 08:39 PM
I have not lifted in a year and my upper body is bigger now. No question about it. My chest, upper back, lats, tri's, are all considerably bigger. Core is much more toned as well since it is always activated during swimming.

Honestly, I when I was powerlifting and track sprinting, my legs, glutes, hams calves were ALOT bigger. You should incorporate some lower body workouts, or do alot of fin work in the pool.

Here is another truth. I swim every day and I am so sore most of the time that lifting would hurt....certainly not the muscles, but ligaments and tendons and I don't want to risk injury.

July 26th, 2007, 10:28 PM
When I was in the Air Force, we had a lot of guys on the "fat boy" program because they were out of limits according to Air Force regs. For example, I'm 6'1" and my max was 211.

A lot of guys would start going to the gym when the first sergeant put them on the program. But they would also keep going to McDonalds and the Enlisted Club, so the weight would not come off. When the first sergeant would start upping the consequences for being overweight (which could eventually lead to getting kicked out of the Air Force), a lot of guys would claim that they had not lost weight because they were working out and had gained muscle.

I always thought this was a cop out. Was I right?

But then again, after 11000 miles of cycling in 3 years, I have barely lost 10 pounds. But my calves and quads are noticably bigger.

July 26th, 2007, 11:09 PM
My dad was drafted into the Army straight out of high school, in 1942. He was sent to California for basic training. I remember him telling me that in basic training, all of the fat guys lost weight, and all of the skinny guys (my dad fell into that category) gained weight.

Anna Lea

July 26th, 2007, 11:47 PM
As long as you are eating enough protein and not swimming on an empty "tank", you will not lose muscle from swimming!

July 27th, 2007, 08:32 AM
This was covered in another recent thread...seemed to be that the conclusion was that swimming is low resistance - high rep. so a lifter should probably lose muscle, while maintaing or building those that are used for swimming...hope I got that right.
When I started seriously swimming, I didn't have muscle and I was a "fat boy", and I ate and swam a lot and I didn't see weight loss, but I did see muscle gain. Changing diet AND swimming did it for me! :banana:
The muscle gain has been pretty constant and based on my specific training routine I feel the different muscles getting great workouts and then I see the results later on!

July 27th, 2007, 09:57 AM
As a beginning swimmer I'm not sure what to expect so your comments were very helpful. I'm still eating like I did as a lifter with maybe a few more carbs for energy.

It will be interersting to see what has happend to my lifting strength when I go back to the weight room in the fall. I'm kind of expecting everything but my back workouts to have declined to newbie status but that's fine.

July 27th, 2007, 10:06 AM
It will be interersting to see what has happend to my lifting strength when I go back to the weight room in the fall. I'm kind of expecting everything but my back workouts to have declined to newbie status but that's fine.

You will notice a difference in different muscles or motions or exercises.
For instance, bench presses and military-type lifts while great for ddeveloping great looking pecs and shoulders are not swimming-friendly (you're pushing resistance away from you) whereas rowing movements and chin-ups and triceps extensions and dips which (in a way) mimic swimming movements will have benefited from swimming. For example lateral straight arm dumbell raises are not a swimming movement, but working at pulleys with straight arm (slightly bent elbows) pulldowns, lateral or front, will simulate (+or-) swimming.

Good luck

July 28th, 2007, 01:05 AM
I've been back at swimming for 8 weeks after a 20 year break. I haven't really lost much weight in the last 8 weeks, maybe a couple pounds. I hope I've lost fat and gained muscle, I'll get some caliper testing done to find out. I'll add more treadmill time and possibly weight training to my schedule and we'll see what happens.

July 28th, 2007, 01:08 PM
You can catabolize muscles to provide energy and building blocks for repairing other muscles. I began one weight loss venture with about 155# of lean mass and ended up weighing 140# total (17% body fat=126# lean). As a smaller leaner person I did not need the extra muscle in the lower body not used for swimming. It was just to get my larger hulk around, so that was fine. Swimming muscles got bigger and stronger.

You can also overtrain and lose muscles you DO want to keep if you train hard and don't provide sufficient calories/recovery time.

Long easy swimming may not stimulate your muscles by itself with no hard fast swimming.