For those wanting to lose weight, keep active and become fitter, swimming is the perfect workout. It’s a fun, full body exercise that utilises multiple muscle groups, helping to build strength, improve stamina and burn calories in a relaxed environment. It can be enjoyed all-year round, either with friends or on your own, and at a pace that suits you and your ability and experience.
In this mini guide, we’ve explained everything you need to know about swimming for weight loss and provided some handy tips for helping you along the way.
Best Swimming Stroke for Weight Loss
There are a variety of strokes to practice when taking to the pool. Each stroke uses different muscles and provides different benefits, so it’s advised you use a mixture to ensure your whole body is worked and your muscle groups are balanced.
Here’s a quick overview of the benefits of the most common strokes:
The butterfly stroke is generally considered to be the most effective stroke for losing weight and toning your muscles. It’s difficult to learn, but once mastered can be of great benefit for your body, particularly your arms, chest, shoulders and back muscles. Short bursts of muscular power and movement are needed to perform this unusual technique, so expect to become tired quickly when practicing this style.
The front crawl is the fastest and most common stroke, primarily working your core, hips, shoulders, back and legs. It requires you to constantly kick and continuously lift your arms in and out of the water whilst keeping your body straight. Due to its fast nature, it’s another stroke effective at burning calories.
The backstroke tasks you to lie on your back while kicking your legs and propelling your arms, ideal for those who aren’t too comfortable with putting their face underwater of find breathing while swimming difficult. It strengthens your core muscles and works the major muscles in your arms and legs as well as improves the flexibility of your hips.
Usually favoured by beginners and those less experienced, breaststroke is a slower and more gentle technique working the whole body. It’s not the quickest at burning calories but is a good stroke for those wanting to build up their confidence in the water. Your chest, arms, thighs, back and legs are the areas of the body worked most when performing this style.
Any form of swimming you do is going to be beneficial for your health. Cardiovascular activities are regarded as the most effective way for losing weight, so as long as your technique is correct, you’ll be heading in the right direction regardless of the stroke you perform.
Swimming Tips for Weight Loss
Here are some of our top tips for getting the best results when swimming for weight loss –
- Push yourself – Avoid being satisfied with the bare minimum and increase the intensity slightly to push yourself to work that little bit harder. It’s important to be sensible, though – if you’re feeling winded or fatigued, bring your training to a stop.
- Increase the distance – Try to gradually increase the number of lengths you swim each time you take a trip to your local pool. This’ll enable you to view your progress over time and give you a sense of accomplishment when you reach certain milestones.
- Sprint training – You might find swimming length after length repetitive, so vary your training by incorporating some sprint sets into your schedule. 4 x 50m or 3 x 100m are good examples, but tweak them where appropriate to suit your ability.
- Keep a close eye on your diet – You’re not going to lose weight if you eat unhealthily, so review your diet and make sure it’s balanced, contains the right amount of each nutrient and isn’t going to be of detriment to your training.
Other Health Benefits of Swimming
As well as losing weight, swimming also provides a range of other health benefits –
- Swimming is gentle on the joints so is perfect for those with weak bones, arthritis or are recovering from injury. It also boosts the health of your joints as it gives them a broad range of motion, keeping them loose and flexible.
- Helps strengthen the heart and lungs.
- Increases your flexibility, suppleness and stretches out the body to improve posture.
- Can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
- As every kick and arm stroke is facing resistance, swimming increases your muscle tone.
- Swimming is a lifelong skill! It could help you save a life in the future.
- Research has shown swimming can lower stress levels and reduce anxiety and depression.
Motivational Tips for Swimming
If you’re serious about shifting some pounds it’s vital that you regularly visit the pool rather than go once a month. If you’re struggling to find the motivation, have a read of these tips –
- Rather than paying a fee every time you go to the pool, buy an annual pass instead – you’ll want to get your money’s worth so are likely to go more often.
- Entering a virtual challenge can help to encourage you to frequently get your swimming costume on. It’s a unique type of challenge that tasks you to swim a specified number of miles throughout the course of a month, perfect for ensuring you stay committed!
- Dedicate time every week to go swimming and put it in your calendar. It doesn’t matter if it’s first thing in the morning, during your lunch hour, in the evening or at the weekend, make swimming a permanent fixture in your diary.
- See if a friend or family member of the same ability will join you. Not only will you push each other on, but on the days you’re not feeling too keen, you’ll want to avoid letting your partner down.
- Find out if your leisure centre offers any aquafit or wateraerobics classes to its members. Taking part in these types of classes will vary your training and help prevent you from become bored of the pool.
Swimming Virtual Challenges with Race at your Pace
Here at Race at your Pace, we’re passionate about helping people keep active. Every month we organise our incredibly popular swimming virtual challenges to help people lose weight and achieve their personal goals in an enjoyable but challenging manner. Sign-up today!
See more: What is a Virtual Challenge?
See more: Best UK Fitness Challenges 2019