The Ultimate Fat-Burning, Muscle Toning Swimming Workout

Swimming is definitely one of the best exercises you can do. Unfortunately, a lot of people shy away from swimming as they believe that other exercises such as running, jogging or cycling are better suited to their particular goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, swimming is a fantastic option and it is actually possible to burn more calories swimming than running or jogging. As we already know, the more calories you burn, the more weight you are going to lose, thus making swimming a great choice.

Why is Swimming so Great for Weight Loss?

You might be wondering, what exactly is it that makes swimming so great for weight loss? Well, swimming not only provides you with an aerobic workout (much like running, cycling etc) but it also provides an anaerobic workout due to the added resistance from the water and because of this, swimming can build muscle too. Typically, water provides 10 – 15 percent more resistance than air meaning that working out in water is going to be harder on your muscles.

But what does this mean? Well, it means two things. Firstly, you are working harder and therefore, you are going to be burning more calories per hour when compared with running or jogging. Secondly, you are going to tone muscles and enhance flexibility. This will give you a more defined, toned appearance which is more than likely part of your weight loss goal as well.

The Theory Behind the Fat-Burning Swimming Workout

One of the best ways you can use swimming to aid in your weight loss goal is to use an interval training workout. Interval training can be done with any cardio exercise including running, jogging, cycling and of course swimming. The idea is that you use a combination of high intensity activity followed by a period of low intensity activity as opposed to maintaining a consistent speed throughout the workout.

Let’s say that you swim for 30 minutes a day at a constant speed, you will burn a good amount of calories, but once you finish your workout, that will be the end of it. After this, your metabolism will return to normal and you will carry on burning calories at your usual rate. As well as this, the more you workout, the fitter you will become and you will then start burning less calories with each workout, meaning that you have to work harder just to burn the same amount of calories.

Sure, you might be swimming 30 minutes a day, but what about the other 23 1/2 hours in the day? Surely it would be good if you could be burning calories even when you were sat at home on the sofa? This is where interval training comes in. Because you are combining aerobic and anaerobic exercise, you will be starving your muscles of oxygen and increasing your metabolic rate meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day. Not only this, but you can burn more calories in a shorter space of time with interval training.

The Fat-Burning Swimming Workout

Ok, let’s get into it. Below is an outline of the fat-burning swimming workout which you should follow to the best of your ability.

1. Warm Up (5 Minutes)

As with any workout, you need to warm up before you really get into the action. Start off your workout by swimming a few lengths of the pool at a leisurely pace. Aim to swim around 8 – 10 lengths (of a 25 metre pool) or spend around 4 – 5 minutes on your warm up. You can use whatever swimming stroke you like here.

2. High Intensity Interval (1 Minute)

After your warm up, it’s time to work hard. For the high intensity interval, you should be working about as hard as your body will let you. The idea is to build your workout to a phase of oxygen depletion and then switch to the low intensity phase for recovery. Aim to swim 4 – 5 lengths at a high intensity or around 60 seconds. Front crawl, butterfly and similar strokes are best for your high intensity interval.

3. Low Intensity Interval (4 Minutes)

Following your high intensity interval, you need to recover. This is where your muscles will get their oxygen supply back for a brief period. You don’t need to work exceptionally hard here, just don’t stop. Aim to swim 7 – 8 lengths or spend around 4 minutes on your low intensity interval. Again, it works well if you can mix up the swimming strokes so be creative.

4. Cool Down (5 Minutes)

After your workout, you need to cool down and relax those muscles. Swim around 8 – 10 lengths or spend around 5 minutes on your cool down. The idea is to slow down your heart rate and relax those muscles.

How Many Rounds Should You Do?

Obviously, as the workout is laid out above, you will probably be swimming for a total of 14 – 15 minutes. This isn’t really enough so you’re going to want to complete a few rounds. We recommend completing at least 3 rounds, and no more than 5 rounds. To add another round into your workout, you just need to complete steps 2 and 3 an extra time.

Here’s an example. Let’s say I wanted to do 3 rounds, my workout would look like this.

1. Warm Up
2. High Intensity Interval
3. Low Intensity Interval
2. High Intensity Interval
3. Low Intensity Interval
2. High Intensity Interval
3. Low Intensity Interval
4. Cool Down

In total, your workout would now last around 24 – 25 minutes.


So there you have it, a fat-burning, metabolism-increasing swimming workout. Ideally, you should complete this between 3 and 5 times a week to get the maximum effect. Remember, any fat burning workout is only going to work when combined with a consistent, healthy and nutritious diet.

About the Author

Joshua Hardwick owns and runs; the no-nonsense website dedicated to helping people all around the world get the six pack abs they’ve always dreamed of.

Joshua Hardwick

Josh is a health and fitness enthusiast and is the owner of He regularly writes on the topics of health and fitness for his own website and others.

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