The greatest benefit of swimming is that it’s a full-body workout––and the best part is, you can often get great exercise without even realizing it until later. Even just walking through water is a good workout because the resistance of the water makes your muscles work overtime.
First and foremost, make sure you’ve got the basics down. Start getting into a routine of swimming laps––going at your own pace––until you feel like you can swim around 20 minutes uninterrupted. While you swim, remember to keep the line of your body straight and your core engaged so your back or legs don’t droop while you swim. Make sure to practice proper breathing techniques and rotate your body as you do freestyle.
Things To Keep in Mind
- Start by setting a time goal––around 30 minutes is a good workout for beginners. Pay attention to how many laps you’re able to swim in this given time and use that to make new goals later on.
- Make sure to include short rest periods in between; lots of short rests are common in swim workouts.
- Interval swimming is often recommended for swim workouts; this means varying the effort and difficulty of your exercises over the course of your workout. It’s an efficient calorie-burning tool.
- With swimming, the rules about what constitutes a “lap” can be confusing––some say it is one length of the pool (usually 25 yards) while others say it’s down and back (50 yards, which is the Olympic standard size pool). To keep things simple, we’ll be referring to yard count here.
- When your goal is weight loss, keep in mind that a swimmer’s appetite is a real thing––swimming makes you hungry, and for good reason. While it’s important to eat when your body demands it to stay healthy, you might want to make a nutrition plan to go with your swimming routine.
- Always stretch before swimming to avoid injury.
- Take your time with your warm-ups. It’s important to be in tune with your body and not jump into anything without proper preparation.
- A proper swimsuit is a good place to start. Make sure you’re wearing something you feel comfortable and confident in.
Before You Start, Here’s What You’ll Need
There isn’t a lot of equipment involved in swimming––apart from, of course, a pool––but in order to perform these workouts, make sure you check these things off of your list.
- A solid, functional swimsuit
- Comfortable goggles
- A kickboard
Other optional items include:
- A swimmer’s cap to protect your hair
- A whistle (and a partner)
- A swim skirt or board shorts just in case
Now, let’s take a look at some workout routines that are especially suited for beginners.
Beginner Swimming Workouts for Weight Loss
This workout is designed for a one-hour period and will end up with a total distance traveled of one mile. It is specifically geared towards older swimmers, so if you fall into that category, this will be a great workout for you to try.
Phase 1) Start with this warm-up: swim freestyle for 250 yards.
Phase 2) Continue the warm-up with 100 yards of one-arm freestyle; this means having your right arm do most of the work.
Phase 3) Finish the warmup with 100 more yards of one-arm freestyle, this time focused on the left arm.
Phase 4) At a faster pace, practice the breaststroke for 500 yards, taking breaks in between.
Phase 5) Do 300 yards of one breaststroke arm drill, switching to the other arm halfway through.
Phase 6) Cool down with another 300 yards with a swim style of your choice.
Workout # 2
This workout is all about switching focus and practicing technique. It’s not only good for weight loss and strength building but for your mind as well. Focusing on what you’re doing is a good way to practice mindfulness. When you incorporate mindfulness into exercise, you can end up finding new ways to connect with your body. This one requires a timer.
Phase 1) Freestyle for one minute. Concentrate most on provoking as little splashing as possible. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
Phase 2) Freestyle for one minute. This time, concentrate on smooth and precise fingertip strokes. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
Phase 3) Freestyle for one minute. Make keeping your head down your focus this time, gazing into the bottom of the pool. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
Phase 4) Freestyle for one minute. Stretch your body as far as you can, creating a long, lean shape as you go. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
Phase 5) Freestyle for one minute. Make sure to rotate your hips on each stroke. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
Phase 6) Freestyle for one minute. Engage all your senses and really pay attention to every sound you make. Take this round to relax and pay attention to your body. Take a 30 to 60-second rest.
This workout is best done with one or multiple partners. You will also need some sound mechanism––a whistle is, of course, ideal, and the example we will be using here. In lieu of having someone blow a whistle, you can also play a song in your head and let the change from verse to chorus dictate when you switch.
Phase 1) Grab a kickboard and start making your way down the pool at a moderate pace.
Phase 2) When your partner blows the whistle––or the song in your head switches gears––change to a fast pace.
Phase 3) At the next whistle blow or song change, go at a slow pace.
Phase 4) Continue this cycle of switching up your tempo for a set time––ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. Don’t forget to incorporate a rest here and there if you’re going for a longer time.
For a beginning swimmer, this workout is a bit more challenging. If you are someone who likes to push themselves and find the other workouts on the easier side, try your luck with this one. It may take a while to do it well, but practice makes perfect.
Phase 1) Swim 200 yards (as a reminder, that’s to the end of the pool and back 4 times). Start out slow with a breaststroke.
Phase 2) Continue to swim another 300 yards at a moderate tempo. Take a short rest after.
Phase 3) Get your kickboard and swim another 300 yards. Take a short rest every other time you get to the wall.
Phase 4) Go another 300 yards in freestyle as fast as you can. Pause and rest for 30 seconds after every 50 yards.
Phase 5) Swim easy for 100 yards to cool down.
This is a pretty basic workout, but it’s great cardio and is a handy, easy-to-remember routine to keep in your back pocket. Like many swimming workouts, there is an emphasis on interval training and switching up the difficulty. This workout might seem draining at first, so pace yourself and stick with it until it becomes easier.
Phase 1) Swim 200 yards (down and back four times) in whatever style feels most comfortable to you. Go easy for now.
Phase 2) Hold on to a kickboard and kick 100 yards (down and back twice). Make sure to get those legs above the water.
Phase 3) Swim 600 yards in total, switching from easy to moderate effort every 100 yards. Take a half-minute rest in between every 100 yards.
Phase 4) Finish off with 200 yards of an easy cool-down swim.
It’s important to pay attention to your body while you do these workouts. If anything feels too straining or intense, adjust it to fit your pace and needs. Don’t get discouraged––we all start somewhere. For a bit of extra help, look around for a coach or trainer who can find the most tailored and healthy routine for you. Make sure to practice good hygiene, mindfulness, and stretching along the way. Don’t forget to wear the perfect swimsuit for your workout, too!