Can the Breaststroke Tone Your Arms?

The breaststroke is a slow stroke that focuses more on your legs.
i Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

If you've ever looked in the mirror and were horrified to see the skin on your arms hanging a little too loosely, you understand the fervent desire to find an exercise that will make your arms stronger. While the breaststroke will certainly help tone the muscles in your body, it may not be the best choice if you're trying to focus on your arms.

About the Breaststroke

    The breaststroke involves swimming on your stomach and pulling your arms outward and back in a Y-shaped movement. As you swim, you'll do a frog kick, also called a whip kick, with your legs. Swimmers with poor knee joints may opt for the flutter kick instead. This stroke burns about 60 calories every 10 minutes, as compared with the backstroke, which burns 80; the freestyle, which burns 100; and the butterfly, which burns 150.

Muscles Toned

    The breaststroke focuses more on the leg muscles than the arms. In fact, your legs are supposed to do most of the propulsion work on the breaststroke as opposed to your arms. Most of the toning happens in your legs, including your hamstrings and inner thighs, but your chest muscles, shoulders and triceps also get a good workout.

Other Benefits

    Although the stroke does burn fewer calories than other strokes, the slower pace of allows swimmers to swim a longer distance. This longer-distance swimming is good for getting the heart and lungs in better shape. The stroke is, however, tougher on the knee joints, so it shouldn't be used as a warm-up stroke.

Strokes for Arms

    The breaststroke works all your muscles, but other swim strokes are better for toning your arms specifically. The butterfly stroke is the best for toning your arms, but it's also the hardest stroke to learn and practice. This stroke focuses on your upper body, as you have to lift your body partially out of the water each time you move your arms over your head. It tones your chest, arms including triceps, back and chest. The front crawl or freestyle stroke is easier to learn and tones all the muscles in your body, especially your back. The backstroke works your arms and shoulders, plus your stomach, glutes and legs.

the nest