As summer comes around each year, many of us dream of shedding those pounds we’ve gained over the winter months. That extra weight can be lost through a variety of different means, but swimming for weight loss is becoming increasingly popular. That full-body workout coupled with the low impact nature of the sport, make it the ideal option for many.
Swimming for weight loss: Can swimming help you lose weight?

Yes! In fact any form of exercise can aid in weight loss, But swimming is unique. There are few other sports like it. With so many muscle groups involved in each of the strokes, it provides a full-body workout like no other.

When swimming, the heart and lungs must work hard to provide the muscles with oxygen. Depending on the intensity you exercise at, the body can expend a lot of energy while swimming. With more calories burned, it results in greater weight loss.
What is the best stroke for weight loss?

Hands down it's the butterfly! But sadly it's the most difficult to master. It's certainly not for beginners, but in the process of learning, you'll be sure to burn plenty of calories trying to master it!

Once perfected, you can expect to burn in the range of 450 calories during a 30-minute swim. This makes it the perfect stroke to master if you’re swimming for weight loss. Due to the intensity, it's also the most effective swimming stroke for toning and building muscle. This is particularly notable in the upper body, especially in the chest, arms and back. With the added benefit of the increased flexibility, the butterfly has multiple benefits for the more motivated among us.

For those who prefer to stick with what they know, then freestyle is the second best option. You can expect to burn 300 calories during a 30-minute swim. While it doesn't have the benefits of the butterfly, it does have the added benefit of toning the back muscles like no other stroke.

For those who’d rather take a more leisurely approach, with less splashing and commotion, then the backstroke and breaststroke are also viable options. You can expect to burn 250 calories and 200 calories respectively for a 30-minutes swim. Both these strokes also help in toning the leg muscles in particular.
Training techniques

While some prefer to treat their swim practice just like a meditation of sorts, others prefer to up the intensity. For those with a preference for the latter, then interval training is the best approach. Often known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), it involves repeated short intense bursts of exercise with short recovery periods in between.

It's a technique commonly used by cyclists and runners too. Depending on your goals, the intensity and length of the intervals will vary. Here are some recommendations of intervals you can try to aid in fat burning.
3 fat-burning swim workouts

Front crawl - single arm

Keeping one arm stretched out in front of you, use the other arm to perform the stroke for the entire length. Switch arms each time you begin a new length.

Sets: 8 lengths

Rest: 10 seconds between each set

The leg kick

Holding a kickboard out in front, or keeping your arms outstretched above your head, kick from the hips rather than the knees. With small, fast kicks, propel yourself forward ensuring that you just break the surface of the water with your feet. The same can be done with a breaststroke or butterfly kick.

Sets: 8 lengths

Rest: 15 seconds between each set

The pull

This one works the arms. With a float between your legs, focus your attention on arm movement. You can try this with any stroke, just refrain from kicking.

Sets: 8 lengths

Rest: 15 seconds between each set

The importance of diet

You can do all the swimming you want, but with a suboptimal diet, you'll end up undoing your hard work in the pool. If you're serious about weight loss, then marrying a proper training regime with an optimal diet will yield much better results.

Avoiding refined carbohydrates when not training intensely will go a long way to controlling blood sugar levels. When you continually fuel your body with sugar-rich foods, you raise insulin levels. Insulin is anabolic in nature, which means it's a building hormone. it signals to your body to store fat.

By timing your carbohydrate consumption to coincide with a post-training window, you'll greatly enhance your chances of meeting your weight loss goals. Aim to intake those refined carbohydrates in a 2-hour post-exercise window. That’s when your body is most insulin sensitive. During this time, glucose is much more likely to be diverted straight into the muscles to replenish them, rather than being converted to visceral fat by the liver.
Defining your goals

One pound of body fat equates to 3,500 calories. Depending on the intensity of your swim practice, that equates to 4-10 hours of swimming. Of course, diet also plays an important role in the weight you can expect to lose.

When starting out, it's generally recommended to swim for at least 2.5 hours per week. Once you've met your weight loss goals, you could taper off perhaps to an hour a week.

If you do take up swimming for weight loss, it can soon take you down a never-ending rabbit hole. From learning new strokes to trying high-intensity interval training and new diets, there’s a lot to learn about. But with its low impact nature and accessibility to all, swimming can be one of the best exercises for those who want to shed a few pounds. At Decathlon, we can help you achieve those clearly defined goals. With a host of swimming accessories and aqua fitness goodies, you’ll be sure to find everything you need to shed those pounds before summer comes around!