Do Swim Fins Tone Your Legs?

Color-match swim fins to your swimsuit.

Color-match swim fins to your swimsuit.

Diving fins are a helpful accessory to take along if you like to splash in the pool and get a workout while doing it. Shorter than dive fins, which are made for the ocean, swim fins are training tools. They make you a better swimmer while toning your leg muscles -- something every girl wants. Next time you take the plunge, attach the fins to get into tip-top shape.

Swim Fin Design

Swim fins look like the long, floppy fins scuba divers wear, but they have a shorter reach. The reduced length creates resistance when you kick the water, strengthening your leg muscles, including quads and hamstrings. The Newport Beach Swimming, a membership group, says the faster you swim with swim fins on, the stronger your leg muscles get.

Fins and Leg Toning

The U.S. Masters Swimming website says that fins in general come with two main benefits: They help you propel your body forward and they work your legs. Terry Laughlin, author of “Total Immersion,” a book about swimming techniques, agrees, but he adds a note about the latter: While fins strengthen your legs, there are other physical activities that do it more efficiently. If your sole reason for swimming with fins is to get stronger legs, you’ll be better off doing squats or lunges, he says.

Fitting Fins

If you decide to incorporate fins into your practice routine, find a pair that fits snuggly. Don't go for anything that makes you feel like you just shoved your feet into a compressor. If you can’t find the right size, do what U.S. Masters Swimming says: Buy a loose-fitting pair and wear them with socks.


Designer of fins Force Fin raises the point that while swim fins strengthen your legs, they make them strong for swimming. If your goal is to become a powerful runner or cyclist, for example, you'll do better to practice the physical activities that improve performance in those sports. That said, swimming with fins definitely improves cardiovascular function, giving you a workout that strengthens your heart and lungs just like running or cycling. As you consider adding a new swimming routine to your life, consult a doctor to confirm that the exercise is the right one for you.

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About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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