Swimming Fitness & Weight Loss Program

swimming fitness program

Swimming provides a great full-body workout, and is a gentle activity ideal for individuals with injuries or conditions that make other exercise types difficult or painful. The buoyancy of water provides a low-impact workout for individuals with arthritis, musculoskeletal problems and limitations due to weight.

Although swimming provides lower impact on your joints than many other exercises, it is still an excellent exercise type for individuals looking to improve their overall health and fitness, cardiovascular endurance, muscular tone and strength, and lose excess body weight.

Types of Movements

There are several different types of strokes that can be performed when swimming. While all swimming strokes provide a cardiovascular workout, each type of stroke will exercise different sets of muscles and at different angles. As you progress in your swimming capability, you will most likely become proficient at several of the various swimming strokes. Don't worry about having perfect form as you learn new strokes, as mastery is something that you'll gain over time.

For individuals that have little experience in swimming, you may want to consider starting with a kick board, or even walking or jogging the length of the pool in waist-deep water. What's important is that you start slow and begin by developing your core muscles.

While some individuals find it difficult to lose a significant amount of weight through a swimming exercise routine, a good swimming plan will increase your probability of achieving your personal weight loss goals. To effectively lose weight, you should perform your swimming routine for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week. Each swimming routine should consist of a warm-up, a cool-down and, in the middle, a period in which you challenge yourself.

A common approach to performing a challenging routine is to incorporate a technique called interval training. Interval training is a technique in which you push yourself hard for a short period of time, followed by a longer period of time in which you reduce the intensity to a lower level. You will want to repeat the process of interval training several times per swimming session. Interval training maintains a higher rate of metabolism and burns more calories than exercising at a consistent pace.

Targeted Muscles

swimming fitness program

Swimming uses all of the major muscle groups, especially the shoulders, back, abdominals, legs and hips. Like jogging or running, swimming also provides an excellent aerobic workout.

However, one of the benefits of swimming is that water has twelve times the resistance of air, making it much better at building lean muscle mass.

Swimming works out certain muscles more than many of the other types of exercise. Because of this, swimmers tend to develop a distinctive shape to their physique.

Muscles like the latissimus dorsi (muscles below the arm pits), which do not get much exercise when performing many of the other exercise types, become very developed from swimming.

In addition, several other muscle groups that tend to be under-worked when performing other exercise types such as the legs, back and chest will become similarly toned as well.

Aerobic Effect

The aerobic effect derived from swimming depends largely on the speed and skill of the individual. An individual who is more skilled at swimming actually uses less energy when swimming than one who does not know how to perform the strokes with proficiency. Similarly, the type of swimming stroke performed affects how much of an aerobic effect an individual will achieve. However, the use of the large muscles in the back, chest and legs will require a large amount of oxygen. This being the case, a high demand for oxygen and the stress placed on the entire cardiovascular system will be achieved no matter how an individual swims. For the reasons listed above, swimming is an excellent exercise type for individuals that are looking to get a good cardiovascular workout and burn a fairly high number of calories at the same time.

Required Equipment

Participating in a swimming routine requires only a few pieces of equipment. Items to consider include a comfortable swimsuit, a pair of goggles, a towel and a membership to a facility with a pool. Most swimming facilities will provide additional equipment that you may find useful, such as a kick board.


Swimming provides an excellent workout for individuals looking to lose weight because it provides both cardiovascular and muscle strengthening at the same time. Very few exercise types are able to make this claim. All that is required to receive an excellent workout from your swimming routine is to continually challenge yourself, perform your swimming routine with regularity, and consume a reasonable diet.

Since swimming requires the use of so many muscles under a great deal of resistance, the rate of caloric expenditure is high. The actual number of calories burned per swimming session depend on factors like age, intensity level, swimming stroke and duration of the swimming routine. This being said, the typical number of calories burned for an individual weighing 150 pounds is 325 to 450 calories per 30-minute session.

swimming fitness program

Swimming actually builds lean muscle mass, which is rare when compared to other aerobic-intensive exercise types. This makes swimming an effective and somewhat unique exercise type.

Swimming is virtually a zero-impact exercise type that can be performed by individuals with physical limitations, hence, individuals that are limited in their physical ability may find swimming an ideal activity for effectively losing weight, improving their overall health and fitness, and increasing their muscular tone. This being said, adding a swimming routine to your overall fitness routine may be well worth considering.