Swimming has a laundry list of benefits for the body and mind. Not only does hitting the pool lower your blood pressure and help you stay more focused at work or school, it can also trigger some pretty impressive physical changes, including weight loss and muscle gain.
Check out this deep dive into the benefits of swimming for weight loss, including how weight loss works, and a few sample training plans to help you get started!
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- Low Impact: Water is 800 times more dense than air, which allows you to build strength in your muscles and bones and reduce joint pain without excessive pounding on the hard ground.
- Swim Every Day: Swimming is gentle enough on your body that you can swim every day if you want to!
- Swim at Any Age: There’s a reason you see so many swimmers in their 80s-90s! Due to the sport’s low impact nature, you can continue swimming until you’re very old.
- Increase Life Expectancy: Swimming has been proven to reduce blood pressure, improve lung capacity and keep the heart healthy. Check out this study for more information!
- Work Out on Your Own: You don’t need an expensive personal coach to get a great swim workout in! Find a pool and hop in!
How Does Weight Loss Work?
In simple terms, weight loss occurs when you consistently consume fewer calories than you burn each day. Conversely, weight gain happens when you consistently eat more calories than you burn. A consistent exercise program can help you maintain your calorie deficit and burn more calories when combined with a conscious diet plan.
Doctors recommend that we exercise for up to 1 hour at least 3 times per week. After about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, your body starts burning fat.
One pound of fat equates to about 3,500 calories. So, to lose one pound of fat in one week, you’ll have to maintain a 500 calorie deficit for about 7 days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing 1-2 pounds per week is considered healthy weight loss.
It’s also important to make sure you are sleeping well, managing stress and drinking enough water.
Finding Your Calorie Deficit
Before beginning any diet program, we recommend consulting a registered dietitian or your primary care physician.
Starving yourself for weeks with an unrealistic caloric deficit might elicit quick weight loss, but it’s not healthy and can impact your swimming performance, mental health and physical health. Maintaining your weight loss involves making realistic lifestyle changes that you can stick to for years to come.
How do you figure out your healthy daily calorie deficit? There are numerous calculators available online that help you determine how many calories you should consume each day to reach your goals.
Your dietary needs are very personal — if you are a woman who is 5 feet 2 inches tall, you will probably need fewer calories than a man who is 6 feet 5 inches tall. Don’t follow someone else’s meal plan just because it worked for their unique body.
Once you determine your daily intake to maintain your current weight, begin experimenting with calorie deficits of 300-500 calories until you find something that works for you, and is sustainable long-term. Prep healthy meals ahead of time, track your calories with an app, or keep a food diary and note how you feel each day.
5 Steps To Lose Weight Swimming
When paired with a healthy diet, swimming can help you reach your weight loss goals! Here’s how:
1. Follow a Plan
With any weight loss program, consistency is key. A structured swim training plan will build in intensity over time, continually challenging your body and pushing you to burn more calories as you get stronger. You’ll also increase your speed, which means you’ll be able to swim further in the same amount of time.
While swimming is low impact, you can apply the principles of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to fire up your metabolism and burn more fat.
2. Swim all 4 Strokes
Incorporating butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke into your workouts adds variety and keeps your workouts interesting — not to mention it burns more calories! It also ensures you have something new to work on each time.
Mix it up to avoid boredom and keep your workouts consistent!
3. Use Equipment
Using equipment adds even more variety to your workouts! Equipment, such as fins and paddles, increases resistance to challenge your muscles and burn more calories. They’ll also help you improve your technique.
4. Add Dryland Training
Dryland training engages the body out of the water to improve your performance in the water, prevent injury and increase calorie burn on the days you can’t swim.
Whether you go for a walk, a bike ride, try a yoga class, or explore the Dryland Plans in the MySwimPro app, get moving 2-3 times per week on your non-swim days and you’ll reap the benefits!
5. Be Smart With Nutrition
As mentioned above, consistency with nutrition is a major factor in weight loss. In fact, think of nutrition as 50% of your weight loss plan. Be mindful of the number of calories you eat, vs. the number of calories you burn each day via exercise and your body’s usual functions.
Meal prep to ensure you’re eating healthy, or track your calories to stay on track. Stay hydrated and remove tempting junk foods from your home so you don’t binge eat. It’s ok to cheat every once in a while, but remember: consistency over time is key!
6. Bonus: Join the MySwimPro Global Community!
Any fitness journey benefits from accountability and support. Join the MySwimPro Global Community on Facebook to connect with swimmers from all over the world who are working toward their own goals, sharing challenges and training tips.
Swimming and Dryland Training Plans for Weight Loss
- Beginner Weight Loss Swim Plan
- Couch to 1K Swim Plan
- Get Fit Swim Plan
- Getting Stronger Swim Faster Dryland Plan
- Low Impact Dryland Plan
Community Shout Outs
How Michael Allon Lost 100lbs (45kg) Swimming 4x/Week
Meet the Woman Who Lost 110lbs (50kg) with the MySwimPro App
How I Lost 60lbs (27kg) and Got Stronger with MySwimPro
How I Lost 75lbs (34kg) Swimming and Reclaimed My Life
How I Lost 66lbs (30kg) Swimming 4x/Week
Ready to start your swimming weight loss journey? Get your personalized Training Plan and daily Guided Workouts with MySwimPro Coach.