It’s a fact: water helps you lose weight. You might think it’s just a trick of the mind, but there’s a lot of science behind this idea.
In fact, studies show that people who drink more water are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t.
And now that summer is here and many of us want to shed some pounds before hitting the beach or poolside party circuit, it’s a great time to find out more about the best ways to incorporate water into your diet so you can get started on your weight-loss journey.
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 Water Workout For Weight Loss
Recent scientific studies at the Texas Research Laboratory show that aquatic exercises have significant weight loss benefits.
Water walking: This includes walking in waist high water or deep water.
- In waist high water, walk from one side to the other side of the pool. Stand upright, with shoulders back and arms bent slightly. Slowly stride forward, placing the whole foot on the bottom of the pool with the heel coming down first. Increase speed in consecutive laps. Then try walking one lap facing forward and the next lap backward. This builds both abdominal and back muscles. For extra intensity, use water weights or swing arms while walking. Walk in water for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
- For deep water walking, a flotation belt is used to keep oneself upright and floating at about shoulder height. Try walking backward and sideways to tone other sets of muscles. To add intensity to this workout, lift the knees higher. Alternate this with the faster pumping action of arms and legs for a brief period, followed by normal pace. Repeat the process 12-15 times.
Deep water running or aqua jogging: This is a super-intense water workout. You run in the deep end of a pool with the aid of a flotation belt or vest. Keep your body upright, shoulders back and use the feet to kick the water behind you. In this workout, the feet do not touch the bottom. Intensify the workout by swinging the arms higher, or faster, or by taking quicker strides. Around 17 calories are burnt per minute in this workout. One can also run in a zig zag pattern for a variation in exercise.
Resistance exercises: During this marching in place exercise, one starts from a standing position with legs together. Then bring left knee up at a 90 degree angle and release it back down. Then, repeat with the right leg.
Similarly, starting from the same standing position, bring the left leg out to the side and then back to center. Repeat with the right leg. This is a good aquatic exercise to lose weight from the thigh area.
Kickboarding: In this exercise, one places arms and upper torso on the kickboard. Then paddle around the pool using only the legs.
Upper body strengthening exercises: Straddle a pool noodle, a water resistance device, as if sitting on a horse. Pedal around the pool as fast as you can with the arms keeping the spine vertical. This will force the core muscles to keep you stable. Continue for 3-4 minutes.
Shoulder exercises:Raise your arms straight up out of the pool as high as you possibly can. Slowly lower arms back into the water and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.
Move arms away from the midpoint of the body. Slowly raise arms with palms down away from the body. Then raise them to shoulder level. Slowly lower arms and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.
Leg raise exercises: This exercise is performed while holding on to the side of a pool. Use left hand to hold on to the side of the pool. Keep knees slightly bent. Slowly swing right leg out to the side. Hold it there for a few seconds. Lower leg and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. Relax and repeat with the left leg. This exercise helps to strengthen the lower body muscles.
Vertical water workouts: This includes all exercises done in vertical position in the water such as water jogging, walking, water yoga, ergocycling, water treadmill and water tai- chi. During vertical water workouts the body experiences 75 percent greater resistance than when swimming horizontally. This is because the vertical position maximizes the drag or pull of water against body movements.
Core strengthening exercise with exercise ball: Hold the ball with both hands directly in front of the navel. Run across the pool as fast as you can for one minute. Rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat 3 more times, increasing speed each time. The ball can be held under arms alternately for variation.
Water treadmill: Due to viscosity, drag forces and frontal resistance, water provides a resistance which is proportional to the effort exerted against it when using the treadmill. Resistance in water ranges between 4 and 42 times greater than in air depending on the speed of movement.
Benefits of Water Aerobics
- Non weight bearing or low impact exercise. In water aerobics the water supports 90% of the body weight rather than the hips, legs and feet. Hence water aerobics is also referred to as a “non-weight bearing exercise”. Water creates a natural resistance, which allows pressure on the joints and muscles to be displaced by the water and the buoyancy reduces the impact on joints.
- Greater flexibility.When doing water aerobics, the joints can be moved easily and in a wide range of motion. As the body is subject to water resistance during water aerobic exercises, the joints naturally increase their range of motion.
- Helps weight loss. The combination of strength and cardio workouts mixed with water resistance in aquatic exercise ensures that the body is getting a full workout. The body can burn between 400 and 600 calories in an hour of water aerobics. For losing weight, it’s recommended that you perform a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, at least 4 times per week.
- Increased muscle strength. Water provides 12-14 times the resistance of air, so even as one walks in the water, there is strengthening and building of muscle, and calories are burned faster.It is like having weights all around the body when moving about in the pool. Studies show that after 12 weeks of regular aquatic aerobic exercise there are significant gains in strength, flexibility and agility.
- Improved cardiac conditioning. As one increases the size and speed of movements, the heart rate, though increased, will be roughly 10 to 20 percent lower than when exercising on land. In fact, the water pressure enables the blood flow to circulate more effectively throughout the body putting less stress on the heart.
- Reduces pressure on the joints. Water aerobic exercises relieve pressure on joints from normal wear and tear and arthritis. In fact, hydrotherapy is shown to be the leading form of therapy for those suffering from joint problems.
- Toning of both the upper and lower torso. When doing aerobic exercises in the gym, a lot of the focus is on muscles in the lower half of the body, whereas in water aerobics, both the upper torso along with the lower torso are toned, as in swimming.
- Soothing massage of the body with light hydrostatic pressure provided by the water.
- Helps de-stress and reduces anxiety. Looking at or being in water is one of the most soothing activities. Studies indicate that aquatic exercises significantly brought down anxiety and stress levels.
- Cooling exercise. As temperatures get hotter, dipping into water, becomes alluring. Water aerobics satisfy the craving for coolness in warmer temperatures, while still enabling people to exercise.
- Popular fun activity. Water aerobics appeals to all age groups and does not require any special skills. As a result, it is one of the most popular bonding activities for friends and family.
Some Important Tips:
- Include some dry land exercises to increase mineral bone density.
- For optimum results exercise minimum 4 days a week, provided the exercise duration is not less than 45 min.
- Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration
- Before using resistance devices such as webbed hand mitts, noodles, balls, barbells, or bands, make sure you are balancing arms and legs to help coordinate and stabilize body movements.
- Some people experience allergic reactions to pool chemicals, and might need to use earplugs. Showering thoroughly after a workout with chlorine cleansing soap and applying moisturizer afterward helps avoid dry and itchy skin.
- Wear water shoes to improve traction and prevent foot injury.
Swimming Exercises To Lose Weight
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.
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 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
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)
(Every third length backstroke or breaststroke)
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)
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
4 x 50s freestyle on 1:00
(Breathe every 3 or 5 by 50)
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)
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)
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.
4 x 25s freestyle on :15 rest
(Build each 25 slow to fast)
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
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)
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