Best Pool Exercise For Weight Loss

Let’s face it: swimming is one of the best exercises out there. It’s low impact, it’s easy on your joints, and it can help you lose weight. But there’s one thing that can make swimming even better: incorporating some pool exercises into your routine.

By doing these simple but effective exercises before or after your swim, you can increase your calorie burn and get a better workout in less time. Plus, they’re great for building strength and endurance!

Right here on Buy and Slay, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on swimming exercises to lose weight, swimming workouts for weight loss, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

Best Pool Exercise For Weight Loss

In addition to offering a beautiful space for relaxation, swimming pools provide an ideal setting for some of the best—and most fun—fat-burning workouts.

Because water is up to 800 times denser than air, exercising in a pool is highly effective for weight loss.

Each time you pull, push, or kick the water, you are performing resistance training and getting in a cardio session. That extra effort helps you torch calories, boost metabolism, and which—over time—can translate into a stronger, leaner physique.

Another great health benefit to exercising in the pool is that is gentle, which means it is low-impact. Water’s buoyancy makes an aquatic workout much easier on your joints. By reducing the effects of gravity’s pressure, water allows you to exercise daily with less worry about injuries.

Top-Rated Pool Exercises for Weight Loss

1. Walk in Water

Walking in water is a great foundation for beginning routine aquatic training.

It allows you to experiment with movement against water resistance and experience the sensation of doing so. In itself, this simple activity provides a full-body workout that targets your lower body, core, and arms.

Begin by entering the shallow end of the swimming pool, and continue until water is at waist height.

Lengthen your spine, and begin walking around the shallow area. Put pressure on your heels first and the toes second. Avoid tiptoeing.

Keep your arms at your sides in the water. As you walk, swing them back and forth—like how you see race walkers do. Engage your core, and be sure to remain standing tall.

Continue for an average of 5 to 10 minutes, gradually, moving in the direction of the pool deep end.

Your goal is to finish the last minute or so with the pool water at shoulder level. At this level of water resistance, you will exert more energy. The more energy you expend, the more calories you will burn.

2. Swimming

Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A 150-pound swimmer can use approximately 400 calories in an hour while stroking at a moderate pace. At a vigorous pace, you can burn up to 700 calories in 60 minutes.

If you are new to swimming pool workouts and have not previously engaged in cardio fitness, start slow.

At first, plan on performing just a couple of laps. Then, take a break, and complete a few more laps. Continue to take breaks as needed.

Eventually, you will increase aerobic capacity. Your goal will be to increase the number of laps you can complete without stopping for a break.

Now, you may be wondering, “how long does it take to lose weight by swimming?” The answer depends on how intense your stroking is.

For example, let’s say you are swimming vigorously to exert an average of 700 calories an hour, and you do so four times a week. As a result, you may lose an average of 3 to 4 pounds in one month.

3. The Bicycle

One of the best water exercises is the bicycle. It requires a little imagination to setup and get started. In the pool, you will perform this exercise while standing at a depth where the water reaches your chest.

First, facing the interior of the pool, start by laying back toward the side of the pool. Bend your arms, and rest your elbows on the deck. You will need your elbows to help stabilize your body.

Then, standing with both legs extended, begin bending your knees to “pedal” an imaginary bike.

Perform this activity for as long as you can without feeling too exhausted. Once you feel exhausted, rest up for 3 minutes and then repeat. Do a total of 10 reps.

Like many swimming pool exercises, the bicycle offers more than one benefit. In addition to helping you burn calories, the movement helps strengthen and tone your legs, shoulders, and core.

4. The Dolphin

The dolphin is another water-based workout that allows you to torch calories. By simultaneously working your legs, back, and core, this move helps you boost the rate at which you shed weight.

To perform the dolphin, go to the middle or end of the pool where the depth is approximately 5 to 6 feet. The target here is to stand with your feet on the pool floor with your chin just above the water surface.

Next, stand at arm’s length from the side of the pool. Using your left hand, grab the edge of the deck (the pool coping or the material along the perimeter). Your arm should be extended out straight.

Now, extend your right arm fully straight out in front of you, just under the waterline. Keep your right-hand open with the palm down.

Holding both your legs together, lift them slowly, keeping your knees straight. Next, use your hips to generate momentum. Slowly transfer this momentum through your knees to your legs to start kicking—mimicking the kicking action of a dolphin tail.

5. The Ball

One of the best pool exercises for beginners, the ball allows you to burn fat and work out your core.

To take advantage of this aquatic workout for weight loss, you will need a simple prop⁠: an inflated, waterproof ball with a diameter of about 20 inches. A beach ball with these dimensions is a perfect choice.

Enter the water with the ball. Position yourself in the swimming pool so the water is about chest-high.

Stand up straight, and raise your right leg so that it is bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your right foot about 11 inches (30 cm) in front of your left knee, maintain an upright upper body.  

With arms slightly bent, hold the ball with both hands, and position it just in front of your stomach.

Hold this position for approximately 30 seconds. Then switch legs. Repeat this routine five times on each leg for a total of 10 reps.

6. The Sprint

A moderate-level swimming pool workout, the sprint takes advantage of the water’s resistance. It is an effective exercise for working out the core and for helping burn fat around your mid-section.

Make the most of this exercise to boost your metabolism and lose some pounds. Begin by entering the pool, and move to a section where the water reaches your shoulders.

Facing the interior of the pool, stand about 12 to 16 inches from a pool wall. Then, lean back against the pool edge with your elbows. With both legs together, extend them straight, slowly lifting them until they reach the water surface.

Next, lower them slowly until they are completely straight and nearly reach the pool floor.

Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times or until you feel exhausted. Take a break, and then attempt another set of reps.

7. Tuck Jump

The tuck jump is one of the water exercises for weight loss and strengthening your core and leg muscles.

It is simple to perform. However, if you are completely new to working out and have yet to build some strength, this exercise might be rather challenging.

Go to the shallow end in water that is about chest high. From your static standing position in the water, jump vertically. Initiate the action by bending your knees and then lifting your legs and bringing both knees up to your chest.

With each jump, you will have to use your core and your arms to help stabilize yourself in the water and keep your torso upright.

Perform multiple sets. To make the exercise more challenging, do not allow your feet to touch the pool bottom between sets; instead, tread in water in between each jump.

8. Use Weights in the Pool

Pool exercises that use weights create even more resistance. That helps you intensify the workout on your arms and legs for building muscle for a trimmer, leaner appearance.

Now, the pool water adds resistance to your moves⁠ as well—making it possible to expend extra calories and increasing the rate at which you lose weight.

To enjoy weight workouts, you will need to invest in some gear. The best options include:

  • Ankle or wrist weights: These strap-on weights increase the resistance when performing leg and arm movements in the water.
  • Foam dumbbells: Lightweight when dry, this equipment becomes heavy when you put them in the water.
  • Buoyancy belt: By helping you to keep your head above the waterline, this accessory helps you perform arm exercises without treading water.

A good example of a water exercise involving weights is the lateral arm lift. Stand in the pool water so that it reaches your shoulders. Hold the foam dumbbells down at your sides, palms facing inward.

Simultaneously raise both of your arms out to the side until they become level with the water surface and your shoulders.

Lower your arms back down to your sides, and repeat. Do one to three sets of 8 to 14 repetitions.

9. The Noodle Plank

The plank is an extremely beneficial pool workout for weight loss. Like its dry-land counterpart, a water-based plank hold engages multiple muscles at the same time and develops your body’s core strength. In addition to contributing to tighter abs, a plank improves your flexibility and posture.

The move also helps you burn 2 to 5 calories per minute based on body weight. For example, a 110-pound individual will burn two calories per minute. Someone who weighs 170 pounds will burn 4 to 5 calories per minute.

To perform a plank in the swimming pool, you will need a floating noodle. Enter the water and remain in the shallow end.

Using both hands, hold the noodle near your chest with your arms partially bent. Then, using flutter kicks, push your feet off the pool bottom, and allow your extended legs to float upward to the water’s surface behind you.

Engage your core and abs to hold the plank position. Only use flatter kicks when it is necessary to remain horizontal.

The water resistance will make this process more difficult, and you will need to use both the core and abs to hold the position.

10. Plie Jump

If you are looking for swimming pool workouts to get your legs and bottom in shape, the plie jump is a sure winner. The added resistance from the pool water makes the exercise even more effective than the dry-land version.

Start by standing in the pool with the water just above your waist. Like a dancer, bring both heels together, fanning out your feet about 45 degrees and bending your knees outward.

Next, jump straight up out of the water as high as you can. Initiate the jumping action from your feet—lift your heel slightly and then bend your toes to push off the pool’s bottom. As you come down, return your knees to the partially bent position.

To increase the workout intensity, do not allow any rest in between the jumps. You can also maximize engagement of your quadriceps: Each time you come down from the jump, bend your knees more to go further down in the water—almost like a squat. The deeper you go, the harder your quads will have to push you out of the squat position.

Important Safety Tips for Swimming Pool Workouts

When taking advantage of water exercises for weight loss, keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • When working out in the water, you may sweat more than you realize. For this reason, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before and after your workout.
  • If you are not a strong swimmer, use a flotation device for any exercises that you do not perform in the shallow end.
  • Avoid working out in an overheated swimming pool—that is, water with a temperature of more than 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you feel weak, faint, dizzy, or lightheaded, have difficulty catching your breath, or experience any pain or pressure in your upper body (other than the discomfort that comes with normal muscle exertion), stop working out.

Pool exercises are an effective way of boosting your cardio fitness, losing weight, and strengthening the major muscle groups in your body.

Swimming pool workouts are ideal for nearly everyone, including those who are pregnant, have joint problems or injuries, or have trouble with their balance. Some people even ease their arthritis with swimming pool exercises.

You can use the exercises outlined here to improve your fitness. Starting with the easiest exercises, work your way up to the more complicated workouts. With time and consistency, it should be possible to achieve your weight loss goals.

Swimming Exercises To Lose Weight

Working out is more fun when you’re splashing around in your gym or community pool. Aquatic exercises can burn fat and they’re healing, too, easing symptoms for arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers. Dive into a new workout regimen with 8 moves that’ll get or keep you fit…

Water is one of the best fitness tools there is. Here are some of the ways aquatic workouts help: 

  • They provide resistance, which strengthens muscles and boosts cardio intensity.
  • Water supports some of your weight, making workouts easier on joints and reducing the chances for an injury, especially if you’re overweight and out-of-shape. “Working out in water is very safe because no joints or bones are forced to bear too heavy a load,” says Andrew Jones, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • You may heal faster; doctors often recommend aquatic exercises for people with joint injuries or infections, or who’ve had surgery, as a way to stay fit and shorten recovery time.
  • You could get relief from symptoms of chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia and arthritis.
  • A pool workout gives you “better balance, agility and endurance, which is a great confidence boost for anyone who has shied away from exercise in the past,” says clinical exercise physiologist Mary Sanders, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in Reno.
  • Pool exercises are great fat-burners. “You can burn a higher level of calories in a shorter time in the pool,” says Sanders.
  • Working out in the water doesn’t feel much like work. “It’s impossible not to smile as you jump into a pool — and enjoying your workout is the best way to make sure you’ll stick with it,” Sanders says.

To get the most of your water workout, follow these tips:

  • Don’t go in deeper than waist-high. That way your feet will have good contact with the pool floor and your leg muscles will be able to support some of your weight. 
  • Wear water shoes to improve traction and webbed gloves (usually made of Neoprene with webbing between the fingers) to add resistance and intensity to arm movements, Sanders suggests. Both can be found at sporting-goods stores and online.
  • Drink lots of water during and after your workout: “You can get dehydrated in the pool as easily as you can on land,” she says.

One of the easiest and most effective pool workouts is water jogging. At a high intensity, you’ll burn 17 calories per minute — more than on land. It also makes you stronger. Sanders advises her clients to jog for 1-to-3-minute intervals in waist-high water, and then alternate with less cardio-heavy water exercises. “It lets you keep the number of calories burned high, but doesn’t require the endurance to jog for more than several minutes at a time,” she says. Ready to jump in ?Many gyms, community recreation centers and Ys with pools offer water aerobics classes. But if you’re ready to go it alone, add these 8 fun water exercises to your aquatic jogging routine:

Pool Exercise 1: Spiderman
Climb the pool wall like Spiderman climbs buildings! This exercise helps you defy gravity in a way that just isn’t possible on land. It also provides a unique challenge to your core and back muscles.How to do it: Stand in water at the side of the pool. Stabilize your upper body by sweeping your hands back and forth as you run your legs up the side of the pool and back down to the pool floor. Do four Spiderman exercises, alternating the leading leg each time you reach the end of one jogging circuit.

Pool Exercise 2: Pool Plank

Planks are a proven core-strengthener on land. But if you don’t have a strong upper body it’s hard to hold it long enough to give abdominal muscles a good workout. All that changes in a pool.

Plus, planks boost your endurance and “the water pushing and pulling on you increases the challenge to your core,” Sanders explains.How to do it:Stand on the pool floor. Hold a “noodle” ( also called a “water log,” a long cylindrical piece of foam that floats) vertically in both hands. Press it straight down into the water and lean forward until your body is on an even incline. (Your head stays out of the water.) Try to keep yourself stable for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pool Exercise 3: Chaos Cardio

This exercise takes jogging to a new level. By creating several currents in the pool and then running through them, you’ll strengthen all your core stabilizing muscles.

“Run with proper alignment — ears, shoulders and hips in one vertical line — so your core is forced to do the work of keeping you upright, not your shoulders or your legs,” Sanders says.How to do it: Run in a zigzag pattern from one end of the pool to the other, then run straight through all the currents you’ve just created. Do 3-minute intervals, alternating with something less cardio-intensive, such as Pool Plank or One-Legged Balance (below).Pool Exercise 4: One-Legged Balance
This strengthens your leg and core muscles, the ones responsible for balance, without the risk of falling and hurting yourself.“Your core has to kick in to keep you upright, increasing your static balance,” Sanders says.

How to do it: Standing in waist-high water, lift your left knee up and place the middle of a noodle under your left foot. (Its sides will float up into a U-shape.) Keep your hands by your side and balance with your left foot on the noodle for one minute.Then move your left knee out to the side and balance for another minute. Switch legs and repeat with the right knee lifted and the right foot resting on the noodle.For an extra challenge, lift both arms up over your head as you balance.If you’re in the pool with your kids, have them jog in circles around you to create currents that will further challenge your balance.

Pool Exercise 5: Fly-Backs
In the water, as on land, fly-backs work the muscles in the upper chest, back and arms. They also improve posture.How to do it:Start in a lunge position with your right knee bent and your left leg extended straight behind you in the pool. Reach your arms straight out in front of you at chest height — palms touching, fingers extended and thumbs up.Open your arms straight out to the sides in the water, then return them to the starting position to complete one rep.Do four sets of 8 to 15 reps, switching the forward leg for each set. To boost your cardio workout and the number of calories burned, do your reps while walking or jogging across the pool.

Pool Exercise 6: Cardio/Resistance Combo
Strengthen your upper chest, back, arms and core with this challenging drill. It also raises your heart rate and burns more calories.How to do it: Straddle a noodle as if you were sitting on a horse. Pedal around the pool as fast as you can while doing the arm portion of Fly-Backs (see above), opening and closing your arms. Sit up tall with your spine vertical — no leaning. This will force your core muscles to keep you stable. Continue for 3 minutes.Pool Exercise 7: Core Ball Static Challenge
This deceptively simple exercise strengthens your core as you work to keep yourself upright. By changing the position of your arms and legs, it becomes four exercises in one.

How to do it:
Version A: Stand in a lunge with your right leg bent and your left leg extended behind you. Hold an inflated ball about 6 inches in diameter (like those found in a drugstore or toy store) with both hands directly in front of your navel. Keep your shoulders down and back. Hold this position for 30 seconds, engaging your core to keep you upright. Switch legs and hold for another 30 seconds.

Version B:
 Do the entire exercise in version A, this time holding the ball with your arms outstretched, so the ball is just under the surface of the water for an added core challenge.

Version C:
 Balance on the right leg with your left knee lifted. Hold the ball in front of your navel as in version A for 30 seconds. Repeat while standing on the left leg with the right knee lifted.

Version D: Balance again on your right foot, left knee lifted. Hold the ball with arms outstretched as in version B, holding for 30 seconds. Repeat while standing on the left leg with the right knee lifted.Pool Exercise 8: Cardio Core Ball Running
This exercise combines cardio with core-strengthening. The ball adds extra resistance and pulls you off-center so your core muscles have to engage to keep you moving forward. Changing the position of the ball works your core even harder.How to do it:
Version A: Hold the ball with both hands directly in front of your navel. Run across the pool as fast as you can for one minute. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat 3 more times, increasing speed through each rep.

Version B: Tuck the ball under your right arm at waist height. With your shoulders facing forward (don’t twist toward the ball), run across the pool as fast as you can for 1 minute. Move the ball to your left side and run for another minute. Repeat 4 times, running faster each time.

Swimming Workouts for Weight Loss

It’s a well-known fact that swimmers like to eat—a lot! And in a perfect world they’re in the pool just enough to balance their eating and swimming in order to maintain their optimal body weight. What happens when suddenly your weight seems higher than normal? Are there workouts that are better than others to take the extra pounds off? Do you need to work out more? Harder? Go on a diet?

Weight loss is pretty simple when you break it down: Fewer calories consumed than your daily caloric expenditure equals weight loss. Your daily caloric expenditure is a function of your metabolism and your activity level. Your calories consumed are what you eat each day. If you’re not one who likes to restrict your eating, increasing or changing your workout plan can help to tip the scale back in your favor. You need to move more to lose more.

When planning your workouts, it’s important to know the time and frequency you have available in your daily schedule. If you’re lucky enough to be retired and can swim for three hours each day, low intensity workouts fit right into your schedule. If you have a full-time job and/or kids, your time is at a premium, and shorter, high-intensity workouts several times a week with recovery days in between would be a better fit.

Often the best balance is a mix of different types of workouts: shorter high- or moderate-intensity workouts to burn a lot of calories in less time, then longer, low-intensity recovery planned for days when time isn’t a factor. In USMS’s Workout Library, you’ll find all types of workouts to mix and match to fit your specific daily needs.

Workout 1: Moderate Intensity

Moderate intensity workouts are typically the mainstay of a weight-loss routine. Often referred to as aerobic workouts, moderate intensity workouts mean you’re working at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum effort. You can work at that effort for a moderate amount of time before you need to rest and recover.

  • On a scale of 1-10, your effort level would be around 7 or 8. Coaches often use the word “pace” for moderate intensity. You’re not swimming slow for recovery or sprinting race pace, but rather holding the same speed throughout the entire set.
  • This moderate intensity workout has higher yards and doesn’t require quite as much time as the low intensity workout. Since you’re swimming a little less distance, your energy expenditure and calories burned will be less but so will the time it takes to swim the workout.


200 freestyle on :05 rest

200 pull on :05 rest

200 kick on :05 rest

100 freestyle on :05 rest

100 pull on :05 rest

100 kick on :05 rest

Main Set

3 times through:

  • 2 x 200s freestyle on :10 rest (swim at steady pace)
  • 3 x 100s freestyle on 1:45

(Pick a send-off you can hold all three times through, faster than pace.)

4 x 75s kick on :10 rest

(IM order, fins and/or boards are fine)

300 pull

(Every third length backstroke or breaststroke)


200 choice

Total: 3800           

Workout 2: High Intensity

High-intensity workouts alternate all-out swimming with rest periods or recovery swims. Although the yardage might not be as high, you’re able to fit in a decent number of yards in a really short time. The drawback to high-intensity training is that you typically are able to do less in each session and the recovery time between sessions may be longer.

High-intensity workouts are great for those people who have limited pool time or personal time. They’re a great bang for your buck to burn some calories and overload your body in a short time period.

  • This workout features high-intensity swims alternating with an active recovery.
  • Use the recovery to let your breathing slow down, relax your body, and reset and lengthen your stroke to prepare for the fast swims.
  • On a perceived exertion scale of 1-10, you’re trying to hit 9 or 10 on those fast swims.


400 freestyle on 8:00

200 IM on 4:00

(Drill/swim IM by 25s)

2 x 250s kick on 4:30

(Use short fins)

Main Set

2 x through the following:

2 x 25s freestyle easy on :50

125 freestyle fast on 2:05

25 freestyle easy on :50

100 freestyle fast on 1:40

25 freestyle easy on :50

75 freestyle fast on 1:20

25 freestyle easy on :50

50 freestyle fast on :55

25 freestyle easy on :50

25 freestyle fast on :35

100 freestyle recover on 2:15

Cool Down

4 x 50s freestyle on 1:00

(Breathe every 3 or 5 by 50)

Total: 2500

Workout 3: Best of Both Worlds

If you have a little more time and don’t want to swim at high intensity throughout the whole workout, here is a workout that might be just perfect.

  • Since the yardage is a little higher, your energy expenditure is higher as well.
  • With the high intensity swims during the main set, you won’t need two hours to complete this workout.


2 x 500s choice on 9:00

(75 free, 25 stroke)

2 x 100s IM drill on 1:50

4 x 50s kick on 1:05

(Use short fins)

Main Set

12 x 25s choice on :30

(Odds fast, evens perfect smooth)

12 x 50s choice on :55

(Odds fast, evens perfect smooth)

6 x 100s choice on 1:35

(Odds fast, evens perfect smooth)

3 x 200s choice on 3:10

(Try to build by 50s and negative split)


4 x 50s freestyle on 1:00

(Breathe every 3 or 5 by 50)

Total: 4100           

Workout 4: Mix It Up

It’s easy to get lazy and back off on your intensity when you swim the same workouts or strokes all the time. Every couple of weeks, pick one workout that challenges you to swim different strokes, intensity, or distance. By changing it up, you’ll focus more, use muscles you don’t use as often, and work at the correct effort level.

  • This higher intensity workout mixes up sprints and easy swimming.
  • As an IM workout, it rotates through all four strokes, forcing you to push yourself on both your best and worst strokes.


200 freestyle

200 pull

200 kick

100 choice

4 x 25s freestyle on :15 rest

(Build each 25 slow to fast)

Main Set

2 times through:

  • 150 butterfly on :15 rest (50 dolphin kick, 50 sprint, 50 drill)
  • 150 backstroke on :15 rest (50 kick on back, 50 sprint, 50 drill)
  • 150 breaststroke on :15 rest (50 kick, 50 sprint, 50 drill)
  • 150 freestyle on :15 rest (50 kick, 50 sprint, 50 drill)

4 x 25s choice sprint on :15 rest

200 freestyle recovery on :10 rest

200 kick on :10 rest


4 x 25s choice on :10 rest

(Reverse build each 25 fast to slow)

100 backstroke on :10 rest

100 freestyle, nice and slow

Total: 2800           

Workout 5: Low Intensity

Low-intensity workouts are great for when you have a lot of time, want to work on your stroke, or even need a recovery day. Since you’re working at a low intensity, you should be able to maintain correct technique while swimming for a long time.

  • Low-intensity workouts get your body moving and your heart rate up.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, you should be working at about a 4 or 5. For this workout, adjust your intervals as needed to stay in that range.
  • This is a great workout for weight loss, because you’ll swim 6100 yards and expend a lot of energy. The trade-off is that it takes around two hours to complete it.


(Swim straight through with minimal breaks)

400 freestyle

400 kick

400 pull

400 choice

Main Set

4 x 500s freestyle on 8:00

(Odds pull with buoy and snorkel, evens swim)

6 x 200s choice on :30 rest

(Odds freestyle, evens IM)

5 x 100s freestyle on 1:35 descend

5 x 100s freestyle on 1:30 descend


300 choice

Total: 6100

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