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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Why Swimming?

  • 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!

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Swim

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.

Related: How Many Calories Do You Burn Swimming

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

Michael McNelis MySwimPro Butterfly

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

Community Shout Outs

How Michael Allon Lost 100lbs (45kg) Swimming 4x/Week

Read Mike’s story!

Meet the Woman Who Lost 110lbs (50kg) with the MySwimPro App

Read Karen’s story! 

How I Lost 60lbs (27kg) and Got Stronger with MySwimPro

Read Brian’s story! 

How I Lost 75lbs (34kg) Swimming and Reclaimed My Life 

Patty Deters Transformation

Read Patty’s story! 

How I Lost 66lbs (30kg) Swimming 4x/Week

Marc Forrest

Read Marc’s story!

Ready to start your swimming weight loss journey? Download the MySwimPro app and start a free 30-day trial of ELITE COACH to unlock all of our swimming and dryland training plans and resources!

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7 thoughts on “How To Lose Weight Swimming

  1. Love your app! Can you include some training plans for younger team swimmers? Perhaps something suitable for those aged 7 and up who swim regularly on a swim team?

    1. That’s a great suggestion! I’ll pass it along to our team 🙂 Some plans that may work for younger swimmers include the Couch to 1k plan and the 4-week Beginner Freestyle plan.

  2. This is exactly what I needed to learn about now. The whiteboard presentation is excellent. Clear and easy to follow. I’m sold! Coronavirus lockdown has not been kind, although understandably necessary. Time to shed the weight acquired these past months.

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