Front crawl muscles

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Swimming is a highly effective and low-impact workout. It’s one of the best ways to incorporate all muscle groups in one workout. 

When swimming, most muscles in the body are worked in different ways, this means there is a very low risk of injury but a large number of benefits to your body.

Each stroke focuses on different muscle groups, but generally, all strokes work the following muscles : 


  • Core abdominal muscles
  • Lower back muscles
  • Upper back muscles
  • Deltoid and shoulder muscles
  • Forearm muscles
  • Glutes and hamstrings


As front crawl is the most popular stroke, let’s examine which muscles are directly engaged when swimming in this stroke.


What Muscles Do You Use the Most with Front Crawl?

When swimming in the front crawl stroke, muscles all over your body are used during different phases of the stroke. 

The front crawl especially works the muscles in the upper body. When you breathe, your neck muscles are being used, particularly the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

During the stroke phase, your upper body muscles are used the most. The deltoid muscles of the shoulder, back muscles, arms, and abdominals are all being used. 

In addition, your triceps will be used if you have a long stroke, and your biceps will be used more if you have a shorter stroke length.

Despite this focus on the muscles of your upper body, your leg muscles are also used when swimming in front crawl. Because this stroke requires a flutter kick, your glutes, quadriceps, biceps, and some muscles in the feet are also used.


Does Swimming Front Crawl Build Muscle?

We know that when swimming front crawl, the upper body muscles are highly engaged. As a result, this stroke is a great way to build muscle in your shoulders and arms. 

The arm movement of the front crawl specifically helps with this, as it extends from your hands all the way to your shoulders. 

Not only this, but front crawl is also effective at building muscle in your back, torso, and abdominal region. When you’re in the water, your abdominal muscles will build strength and tone up to keep your body stable. 

You can also build muscle in your legs thanks to the flutter kick that is characteristic of the front crawl stroke. This kick is essential to keeping your body high up in the water. Doing this builds up the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calve muscles. 


What Muscles Do People Injure the Most with Front Crawl?

The shoulder muscles are the most commonly injured from swimming in the front crawl stroke. This is usually a result of overuse or because of an impingement injury. This is when your shoulder blade pinches or rubs against your rotator cuff. 

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that attaches the tendon to your arm bone. These injuries are usually uncommon for recreational swimmers, though.

With a front crawl, it’s also possible to injure your neck or lower back muscles. This can happen if you consistently swim with your body out of alignment. To avoid this, you should aim to keep your body straight when swimming in front crawl. 


Final Thoughts on Front Crawl Muscles

Swimming front crawl is a great way to tone up the muscles all over your body. If you’re particularly interested in toning or building muscle in your shoulders, arms, or back, swimming in the front crawl stroke is an excellent workout choice. 

Not only will you develop these muscles, but you’ll work in a good ab session too.