Originally posted on https://www.skullnscales.com/blogs/swimming/how-to-get-swimmer-shoulders
Swimmers shoulders are one of the most sort after physical traits for guys who like to go to the gym. What usually happens is people start pumping really heavy weights on their shoulders in the gym but all that happens is that they just get bigger all over on their upper body and you never see the difference between waist and shoulder ratio.
SO WHAT’S THE KEY TO GETTING BROADER SHOULDERS?
Well, unsurprisingly, swimming is the key. There are no two ways about it. The best way to get swimmers shoulders is to actually go swimming. But don’t worry there are some specific swimming exercises you can do that will target your shoulders and will help increase the ratio between shoulder width and waist size. We have picked out 3 key exercises you can do that will help your shoulder width dramatically.
1. FREESTYLE PULL (WITH PULL BOUY & PADDLES)
Grab a Pull Bouy and start pulling. By using a float between your legs you can make sure your lower body doesn’t sink while you aren’t kicking your legs.
Here is a useful video on how to swim with a Pull Buoy when you’re training your shoulders.
Paddles increase the resistance with the water, it’s basically the same as lifting heavier weights in the gym – making it harder work for your arms to pull through it because you’re catching more water, the bigger the paddles the harder it is. The danger with using paddles is that if you have a freestyle stroke that is particularly inefficient will be bad for your shoulders by putting more strain on them by using hand paddles so be careful with this one – just like weight lighting – poor technique causes injury.
HOW TO USE SWIMMING HAND PADDLES
Here is world famous swimming coach Bill Sweetenham explaining how you should be using hand paddles. You can do a lot of damage to your shoulders by not using hand paddles correctly.
2. SWIMMING BUTTERFLY
Now it’s not easy for everyone and it is definitely the hardest of all the strokes. But it’s actually the second fastest stroke closely behind freestyle. This is because of the sheer power that is put through the shoulders and arms – the only reason it isn’t as fast is because of how fast you can turn your arms over. Swimming butterfly is like a power lift in the gym – you are using your shoulders, chest and arms and it will definitely help you build up your upper body strength especially through your shoulders.
3. BACKSTROKE (PULL)
Backstroke swimmers are quite often very tall and thin with broad shoulders – its similar to freestyle. It kind of works some of the same muscles but a bit inverted in some cases – so you can see the same results with shoulder power. Arguably backstroke is easier to do with arms only because having your head back means your feet can float easily meaning you can focus on using your shoulders more than front crawl which can be more focused on your chest muscles depending on your technique – backstroke uses more of your back and shoulder muscles generally.
The fastest freestyle sprinters in the world often have a straight arm pull under the water. This is because you ‘catch’ much more water and it gives you better propulsion through it – the deeper your arm the stronger the pull. This puts more pressure on your shoulders which will, of course, make them stronger but again can cause injury easily and is why long distance freestyles never use this technique because its way too tiring and they would have pretty short careers – but for strength in the shoulders – a deeper pull will help!
Short but sweet – hopefully it gives you a few ideas.