Does Swimming Make Your Butt Bigger?

Girl swimming the crawl stroke

Swimming is fun, refreshing and great exercise. The natural resistance provided by water creates an ideal workout for your legs and glutes as you kick your way across the pool. But can the powerful toning actually add bulk to your backside? Before you hang up your goggles for good, know that swimming is more likely to leave you fit and slim, not send you shopping for a bigger bikini bottom.

Total Body Exercise

Swimming is great exercise because works your entire body. You simply can't stay afloat without engaging multiple muscle groups. Swimming puts your arms, abs, back and shoulders to work, along with your lower body. Even using a kickboard will ask something of your upper body. So it's unlikely that you'd build such disproportionate muscle mass in your glutes to lead to a bigger butt. Instead, swimming is a low-impact way to improve overall muscle strength.

Helps You Slim Down

Body fat comes from excess calories. Swimming is an extremely effective way to burn calories. Even a leisurely swim will burn around 500 calories an hour, and with extra gusto, an active swim can use up nearly 700. In that effort, your body will tap into any fat reserves it may have stored. So as you burn through calories, your dip in the pool will likely result in a shape that's leaner, not more muscular.

Muscle Tone, Not Mass

Although it's excellent for burning calories and fat, swimming can also go a long way to improving muscle tone. But muscle tone is different from muscle size. Only heavy resistance will result in the new muscle fibers needed for increased growth. Swimming is low impact, and your glutes won't encounter the resistance they'd need to significantly gain in size. Instead, they're likely to be stronger, and with less body fat; more visible -- but not bigger.

Exercise Won't Change Body Shape

Swimming is excellent for losing weight and gaining strength. But no matter how hard you swim, you won't change your body shape. The body burns fat wherever it's stored. If you store fat on your rear, swimming will trim any excess. If you're simply built with pear-shaped hips, no amount of laps will produce a stick-straight frame. The same is true for building muscle. Even in intense programs, you'll be limited by your genetic makeup.