Muscle Building With Swimming Paddles

Use swimming paddles to move your upper-body muscle building to the water.
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The minute you jump into the water to swim or walk, you begin muscle building. Water provides as much as 12 percent more resistance than air on your muscles. Think of water as an invisible resistance band. When you talk about paddles, there are two different varieties – swimming paddles or gloves and water fan paddles. Adding swimming paddles or fan paddles allow you to increase resistance and build more muscle. However, these water tools do not come without some cautions in order to reduce the risk of injury.

    Step 1

    Put your swimming paddles on each hand and adjust the straps according to the paddle design and instructions. Tighten the straps enough to keep the paddles on your hands without cutting off circulation. Swim the freestyle stroke with the paddles on your hands for increased resistance. (ref 2)

    Step 2

    Place one fan paddle in each hand and stand in shoulder-height water. Perform a lateral raise to focus on your shoulders. Straighten your arms out to the side, at shoulder-height and palms facing down. Keep the paddles in the water. Keeping your elbows straight, slowly lower your arms down to your side. Slowly bring them back up to shoulder height. Repeat for two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

    Step 3

    Stand with your hands out to your side, palms facing forward. The top section of the fan paddle may be slightly above the water. Perform the chest fly to focus on your chest and shoulder muscles. Slowly bring the paddles together in front of you, keeping your elbows straight. Open your arms and return to the starting position. Repeat for two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

    Step 4

    Stand with your arms at your side and palms facing forward while holding the fan paddles. Perform biceps curls to focus on your biceps muscles. Slowly bend your elbows and bring your hands up toward your chest. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.


    • Fan paddles adjust to increase resistance levels. Begin with the fans open for the least resistance and gradually increase the resistance level as exercises become easier.


    • Think of using paddles as lifting weights. When you strength train a set of muscles, you need to give those muscles at least 48 hours of rest before training again. For example, if you train with water paddles on Monday, do not do so again until at least Wednesday.


    • Swimming paddles on the hands can increase the risk of shoulder injury, especially in new swimmers or swimmers with poor technique. Talk with a coach or trainer about your swimming technique before using paddles. When choosing a swimming paddle, find one that is no more than 10 percent larger than your hand.


    • Consult a physician before starting any new exercise program.


    • Start out using swim paddles for one or two laps. Gradually increase how many laps you swim with the paddles.

    Things You'll Need

    • Swimming paddles or gloves

    • Fan paddles

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