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Swimming Workouts: Lose Weight In or Out of the Pool!

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By: Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.,

Writer at The Fit Father Project

swimming workouts

Swimming workouts are highly effective for calorie burning, body sculpting, and weight loss. And you don't even need a pool!

You don't need to be Michael Phelps, either.

There are many different swimming workouts you can do, regardless of your fitness level or skill in the water.

Swimming workouts are an effective way to reach your goal weight, improve heart health, burn fat, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

Ready to learn all about the different types of swim strokes you can do to reap the numerous benefits swimming has to offer?

Read on for the best swimming workouts men can do — in or out of the pool!

Swimming is a great workout to add to your regular exercises — like the ones found on our blog or YouTube Channel!

Different Types of Swimming Workouts

When beginning swimming workouts, consider the following exercise plans to help you reach your goal weight and burn fat quickly.

Long, Continuous Cardio

When choosing long, continuous cardiovascular swimming workouts to get your body in a fat-burning zone, begin at a low intensity after warming up for 5 minutes.

Increase your swimming intensity to a moderate pace for about 20 minutes (or longer if you can) and cool down for 5 minutes.

Stretch after you complete each workout.

While the goal of long-continuous cardiovascular exercise is increased endurance, optimal heart health, and weight loss, you can still take short 15-60 second breaks during exercise as needed to help you successfully finish each workout.

Over time, you might work up to 45- or even 60-minute cardiovascular swimming sessions to achieve your goal weight as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Change up your swim stroke after every lap, or every 2-4 laps, based on how your body feels.

Butterfly and crawl strokes are often the most labor-intensive swim strokes, followed by the breaststroke and the backstroke.

Learn more about burning fat during cardio and the best types of cardio that you can do to lose weight.

 

HIIT

When you're ready to get fit fast, build muscle, and drop unwanted pounds quickly, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) swimming workouts.

You can complete HIIT exercises using any swim stroke of your choice.

Better yet, mix and match different strokes to help you achieve the best outcome.

After warming up for 5 minutes, complete one swimming lap at a high intensity.

Rest for about 30 seconds if you need to before completing the next lap at a lower intensity.

Or, you can complete all your laps at a high intensity with longer rest periods in between!

Aim to complete at least 20-30 minutes of HIIT training if you're able to, or work you way up to this exercise duration over time.

Use rest periods to catch your breath between laps so you don't overdo it, but you should still feel somewhat out of breath after high-intensity laps to get the most benefit out of HIIT swimming workouts.

This HIIT bodyweight workout for fat loss can be done from inside your home with NO equipment!

 

Leg Swimming Workouts

Get a kickboard to focus on just your legs on leg swimming workout days to achieve weight loss.

Alternate between scissor/flutter kicks, breaststroke kicks, butterfly kicks, and any other type of swim kick you can think of to burn fat fast and build up your leg muscles.

Arm Swimming Workouts

When choosing swimming workouts that focus mainly on using your arms, get a pool buoy to help your legs and lower body stay afloat.

Doing so allows you to focus on your arm strength and endurance in the water.

Alternate between freestyle arm strokes, butterfly strokes, backstrokes, or breast arm strokes to really work your upper body and sculpt your arms.

Check out these arm workouts and grow your triceps and biceps!

 

Treading Water Workouts

Treading water can help you burn as many calories as swimming in motion, as long as you take a few breaks during the exercise.

While treading water, see how long you can stay afloat without stopping.

Recruit friends and family to join you to prevent boredom during your workout.

When you tread water, try different types of kicks (scissors/flutter kicks, breaststroke kicks, circle/rotary kicks, etc.) and arm movements to work all major muscle groups, sculpt your entire body, and burn body fat quickly.

Dry Land Cross-Training Workouts

Cross-train by completing cardiovascular exercise (non-swimming workouts) at least one or two days weekly to avoid getting burned out of swimming for weight loss.

Opt for walking, jogging, cycling, stair climbing, rowing, or elliptical workouts instead.

Alternate between long, continuous cardiovascular exercise and HIIT training to achieve optimal fat-burning results.

Learn about the importance of walking every day and how it can DRASTICALLY improve your overall health.

 

Dry Land Resistance Workouts

Don't forget to complete resistance training workouts at least two days each week to build strength and lean body mass, and improve swimming workouts for weight loss.

Place bands around your thighs while lying on your back with your legs straight and slightly elevated off the floor.

Practice scissor kicking, breaststroke kicks, or other types of swim kicks and movements to work your leg and abdominal muscles.

Use bands to practice upper arm swim strokes with added resistance.

Or, simply lift weights using a bar, weight machine, or dumbbells.

Work your legs, glute muscles, hips, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and abs.

When using resistance bands for swim training, consider the following exercises:

Don't forget to work your abdominal muscles daily, or almost every day.

Consider leg raises, scissor kick leg raises, shoulder touch planks, and swimmer's plank exercises.

Learn how to do shoulder taps properly, a great workout for your core!

 

Places to Train for Swimming Workouts

Most people don't have a lap pool in their backyard available for swimming workouts.

The good news is you don't have to swim every day to effectively lose weight.

In fact, the opposite is true!

Cross-train with dry land workouts in addition to completing swimming workouts in water to increase your strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance.

To train in the water, head to a beach, a local gym with a pool, your community YMCA, or consider (though expensive) getting an indoor or outdoor swim spa for your home.

While much smaller than traditional lap pools, a swim spa allows you to swim in place against a current.

If you opt for dry-land swim training, choose jogging, cycling, rowing, or resistance training at your local gym, outdoors, or at home if you have the right workout equipment.

This full-body, at-home resistance band workout will help you stay toned and lose weight!

 

How to Begin Swimming for Weight Loss

There are a few things to keep in mind before you begin swimming workouts.

Know How Many Calories You Can Burn

You can burn nearly 450-500 calories in just 30 minutes swimming laps at a high intensity, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you expend 500 more calories than you eat daily, you should be able to lose about 1 pound per week!

Burn 1,000 more calories than you eat in a day and you can drop about 2 pounds each week.

How many calories should you eat a day to lose weight? Watch this video to find out your EXACT number.

 

Know How Long to Swim

When beginning swimming workouts, start slow.

You don't have to complete 30 minutes of continuous swimming right away, as swimming is often a difficult, high-intensity workout if you're not used to it.

Start by swimming for 15 minutes a day, or take breaks after each lap to catch your breath as needed to help you finish swimming workouts.

Slowly work your way up to swimming for a longer duration, higher intensity, or with fewer breaks.

Learn About the Different Swim Strokes

Consider the following types of strokes when swimming, or mix and match strokes to work all major and minor muscle groups:

The calorie estimates above are for a 185-pound adult.

You might burn more or fewer calories than these estimates, depending on your size and swimming intensity.

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Focus on Healthy Foods

Making dietary changes is just as important as completing swimming workouts.

If you're adding additional exercise to your daily routine, you don't need to drastically cut calories.

However, changing up the foods you eat can help you burn fat, build muscle, and keep energy levels high.

Aim to cut out foods that offer lots of calories but few essential nutrients.

Examples include sweets, sodas, other sugary drinks, white bread, white rice, other refined grains, fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, fried foods, cream-based soups, and gravies.

Steer clear of baked goods, many snack foods, and condiments containing hidden added sugar — such as barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, some salad dressings, jams, jellies, and ketchup.

Fill half of each plate of food with leafy greens or other non-starchy vegetables (green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.).

Fill one-fourth of your plate with high-fiber starches (corn, peas, dried beans, lentils, other legumes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, other whole grains, etc.), and the remaining one-fourth of your plate with chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seafood, organic lean red meat, or other nutritious protein foods.

Between meals, consume protein shakes, Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, kefir, nuts, seeds, or other nutrient-dense snacks.

Cook with olive oil or canola oil and add avocado slices to salads, soups, sandwiches, whole-grain toast, or even omelets for breakfast.

This video explains nutrition in 3 minutes, giving you 4 actionable ways you can start eating healthier!

 

Get Enough High-Quality Sleep

Sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising regularly when it comes to weight loss in men.

Sleep deprivation can contribute to hormone fluctuations, increases in appetite, and fatigue that might prevent you from completing swimming workouts to drop weight.

Go to bed at the same time each night and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly whenever possible.

Reduce stress, consider using a white noise machine, and sleep in a cool, dark room.

Read before bed, but avoid looking at blue light (TV, computer, phone, or tablet screens).

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before you go to sleep and consider stress-relieving strategies like a hot bath, massage, meditation, or yoga.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, as many people do, ask your doctor about possible treatments to help you get a better night's rest.

This video will provide you with 7 sleep tips that you can start implementing to get higher sleep quality TODAY.

 

Set Goals and Record Your Progress

Before beginning swimming workouts for weight loss, set goals and record your progress in an app or journal.

Consider setting goals for the following healthy habits:

  • Number of workout days weekly
  • Duration of swimming workouts
  • Duration for non-swimming workouts
  • Hours of sleep per night
  • Cups of water you drink daily
  • Lost pounds (aim to drop 1-2 pounds weekly)
  • Dietary goals (foods to give up, foods to add, etc.)
  • Inches lost around your waist

Weigh yourself every day if possible, and record the results over time in a journal.

Try to get at least 30-60 minutes of exercise in most days of the week in addition to at least 45 minutes of active daily activities, such as house chores and yard work.

Reward yourself (use non-food rewards) for meeting daily, weekly, or monthly goals!

Drink More Water

Make sure you're drinking enough water, especially during swimming workouts when drinking fluids might not be on your mind.

Bring a water bottle with you to the pool or beach, and make sure to drink every 10-20 minutes or so.

During lap swimming, keep a water bottle next to the end of your lane, so you can drink water during your breaks.

Many men need at least 16 cups of water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated.

For water workouts lasting more than 60 minutes, pack a sports drink containing electrolytes.

This video covers the major benefits of water, giving you some quick tips on how to hit your daily hydration levels.

 

Get Started With a Complete Fitness Plan Today!

In addition to completing swimming workouts for weight loss, it's helpful to join an organized weight loss program designed specifically with men's needs in mind.

Doing so can drastically increase your chance of long-term success.

The Fit Father Project offers structured, custom meal plans, fat-burning and muscle-building workouts, motivational support from health experts, online health coaching, recipes, weekly newsletters, community support, and much more!

FFP programs have helped hundreds of thousands of busy dads like you reach their goal weight and maintain it for a lifetime.

In addition to choosing swimming workouts, try the Fit Father Project 30X (FF30X) weight loss plan, or sign up for a FREE FFP meal plan and workout today!

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Erin Coleman B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer at The Fit Father Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on swimming workouts.

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