4-Way Swimming Guide To Burning Calories Effectively

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Nutritionists and fitness experts wax poetic on the weight loss advantages of swimming. The real question is, “how”?

If you start swimming for weight loss, knowing how to float and propel yourself through the water may not be enough. You should know some swimming strokes, techniques, and equipment that will let you drop a hefty amount of calories while toning your muscles and strengthening your body effectively.

To help you with your weight loss journey, here are four tips you may keep in mind before hitting the pool.

1. Know the key factors of swimming for weight loss

The number of calories you burn while swimming depends on the length and intensity of your workout. The longer the duration and the higher the intensity of your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. Your weight is another factor. The heavier you are, the harder you have to work through the water and the more calories you’ll be able to burn.

2. Wear the right swimming equipment

The success of your workout solely depends on you, but you can improve the efficiency of your stroke and increase your speed by getting help from some swimming equipment.

If you want to build your lower body strength and travel across the lane faster, you may use swim fins. You should also wear your swim caps to hold your hair back and away from your face while swimming. Swim caps also help limit the drag caused by your hair and protect your hair from being pulled on by your goggle straps.

3. Learn the different swimming strokes

  • Sidestroke

Sidestroke is one of the most basic swimming strokes. It is performed by lying sideways in the water with asymmetric arm (one is extended straight out above the shoulder) and leg motion. Sidestroke is used as a lifesaving technique and usually used for long-distance swimming.

In terms of calorie burning, a 150-pound person can burn approximately 544 calories in an hour by using the sidestroke technique.

  • Freestyle stroke

Among all competitive strokes, freestyle or “front crawl” is the fastest technique. In freestyle, you cut through the water instead of pushing against it. The stroke relies mostly on your upper-body, which means you propel yourself with your shoulders and upper back.

If done in a faster manner, a 155-pound person can drop 704 calories in one hour. Aside from burning calories, freestyle stroke tones your core and glutes and strengthens your back.

  • Breaststroke

If freestyle is the fastest, breaststroke is considered as the slowest of all competitive strokes. However, the stroke can burn as many calories per hour as fast freestyle swimming. Breaststroke requires your body to power through the water instead of cutting through it. Unlike freestyle, you rely on your lower body, kicking for propulsion.

If you weigh 155 pounds, you’ll also burn 704 calories. Apart from being a calorie burner, the stroke helps expand the lungs and strengthen and tone the chest muscles, inner thighs, shoulders, legs, hamstrings, and triceps.

  • Backstroke

Backstroke may seem easy since it allows you to breathe out of the water facing upward. However, it takes strong abdominal muscles and shoulders to polish a competition-worthy stroke. Backstroke is advised if you want to conserve energy. You may burn fewer calories compared to other strokes but you have the advantage of completing a long swim using this technique.

If you weigh 155 pounds, you’ll burn 493 calories per hour. Backstroke tones your arms and shoulders, stomach, and buttocks as well. It is also a great exercise for people who sit at a desk all day since it elongates the hip flexors.

  • Butterfly stroke

The butterfly stroke, without any doubt, is the winner when we talk of calorie burning. However, it is a more advanced and demanding stroke and it would be nearly impossible for you to finish a 400-m swim. You really have to kick vigorously in order to move forward and propel your upper body above the water to gasp some air.

If you weigh 155 pounds, you’ll burn 774 calories per hour. Aside from burning calories, butterfly stroke works on your upper-body strength while toning your chest, arms, triceps, back muscles and abdominals, and increasing flexibility.

4. Set a realistic workout time

Now that you have learned different strokes and their calorie-burning capacities, try to time yourself while swimming. Determine how long will it take for you to complete one lap of the pool at your normal speed using your favorite swimming stroke. Repeat one lap with all the other strokes you know how to do. Divide your workout time (30-minute to one-hour) by your average lap time to determine how may laps you need to swim.


Despite her busy daily routine, Carmina Natividad still manages to find time for a little self-pampering. Aside from hitting the pool during the weekends, she also finds interest in writing articles focused on health and wellness. She is now one of the writers for Swimprint, a go-to shop for swimming enthusiasts in the UK.

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Akshay Sharma

Hi! I’m Akshay Sharma. I’m a blogger at Imagination Waffle. I love to read and write about Fitness, Health & Lifestyle topics.