Working out is more fun when you’re splashing around in your gym or community pool. In addition to offering a beautiful space for relaxation, swimming pools provide an ideal setting for some of the best—and most fun—fat-burning workouts. Water is one of the best fitness tools there is. Because water is up to 800 times denser than air, exercising in a pool is highly effective for weight loss. Each time you pull, push, or kick the water, you are performing resistance training and getting in a cardio session. That extra effort helps you torch calories, boost metabolism, and which—over time—can translate into a stronger, leaner physique.

Another great health benefit to exercising in the pool is that is gentle, which means it is low-impact. Water’s buoyancy makes an aquatic workout much easier on your joints. By reducing the effects of gravity’s pressure, water allows you to exercise daily with less worry about injuries. Water supports some of your weight, and reducing the chances for an injury, especially if you’re overweight and out-of-shape. Working out in water is very safe because no joints or bones are forced to bear too heavy a load.


When taking advantage of water exercises for weight loss, keep the following safety tips in mind:

If you are not a strong swimmer, use a flotation device for any exercises that you do not perform in the shallow end.

Avoid working out in an overheated swimming pool—that is, water with a temperature of more than 89 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you feel weak, faint, dizzy, or lightheaded, have difficulty catching your breath, or experience any pain or pressure in your upper body (other than the discomfort that comes with normal muscle exertion), stop working out.

When working out in the water, you may sweat more than you realize. For this reason, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before and after your workout.

Pool exercises are an effective way of boosting your cardio fitness, losing weight, and strengthening the major muscle groups in your body.

Swimming pool workouts are ideal for nearly everyone, including those who are pregnant, have joint problems or injuries, or have trouble with their balance. Some people even ease their arthritis with swimming pool exercises.




Walking in water is a great foundation for beginning routine aquatic training.

It allows you to experiment with movement against water resistance and experience the sensation of doing so. In itself, this simple activity provides a full-body workout that targets your lower body, core, and arms.

Begin by entering the shallow end of the swimming pool, and continue until water is at waist height.

Lengthen your spine, and begin walking around the shallow area. Put pressure on your heels first and the toes second. Avoid tiptoeing.

Keep your arms at your sides in the water. As you walk, swing them back and forth—like how you see race walkers do. Engage your core, and be sure to remain standing tall.

Continue for an average of 5 to 10 minutes, gradually, moving in the direction of the pool deep end.

Your goal is to finish the last minute or so with the pool water at shoulder level. At this level of water resistance, you will exert more energy. The more energy you expend, the more calories you will burn.


Water aerobics for the arms are rhythmic exercises that you perform in water. Because the water provides continuous resistance, you can tighten and build up the muscles in your arms without any additional fitness equipment or tools.

Besides improving arm strength, water aerobics arm exercises can help increase arm flexibility, range of motion and circulation. If desired, use a light pair of water dumbbells to add resistance to your workout.

Do each arm exercise as part of your total body water aerobics routine — or do several consecutive rounds of each exercise so that your workout focuses solely on your arms, with at least eight repetitions for a total of 20 minutes.


Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A 150-pound swimmer can use approximately 400 calories in an hour while stroking at a moderate pace. At a vigorous pace, you can burn up to 700 calories in 60 minutes.

If you are new to swimming pool workouts and have not previously engaged in cardio fitness, start slow.

At first, plan on performing just a couple of laps. Then, take a break, and complete a few more laps. Continue to take breaks as needed.

Eventually, you will increase aerobic capacity. Your goal will be to increase the number of laps you can complete without stopping for a break.

Now, you may be wondering, “how long does it take to lose weight by swimming?” The answer depends on how intense your stroking is.

For example, let’s say you are swimming vigorously to exert an average of 700 calories an hour, and you do so four times a week. As a result, you may lose an average of 3 to 4 pounds in one month.


This exercise is one that should be done when you are in a section of the pool where the water is waist deep. Similar to normal lunges, alternate lunging your right and left foot forward, bending at the knee, keeping the opposite thigh parallel to the floor.

Water lunges take this same exercise, but put it under water. This allows the body to strengthen your thighs without putting excess strain on the knee. As a runner, this is one of my favorite workouts in the pool!

For a side lunge, face the pool wall and take an oversized step to the side. Keep toes facing forward. Repeat on the other side. Try 3 sets of 10 lunge steps. For variation, lunge walk in a forward or sideways direction instead of staying in place.


One of the best water exercises is the bicycle. It requires a little imagination to setup and get started. In the pool, you will perform this exercise while standing at a depth where the water reaches your chest.

First, facing the interior of the pool, start by laying back toward the side of the pool. Bend your arms, and rest your elbows on the deck. You will need your elbows to help stabilize your body.

Then, standing with both legs extended, begin bending your knees to “pedal” an imaginary bike.

Perform this activity for as long as you can without feeling too exhausted. Once you feel exhausted, rest up for 3 minutes and then repeat. Do a total of 10 reps.

Like many swimming pool exercises, the bicycle offers more than one benefit. In addition to helping you burn calories, the movement helps strengthen and tone your legs, shoulders, and core.


The dolphin is another water-based workout that allows you to torch calories. By simultaneously working your legs, back, and core, this move helps you boost the rate at which you shed weight.

To perform the dolphin, go to the middle or end of the pool where the depth is approximately 5 to 6 feet. The target here is to stand with your feet on the pool floor with your chin just above the water surface.

Next, stand at arm’s length from the side of the pool. Using your left hand, grab the edge of the deck (the pool coping or the material along the perimeter). Your arm should be extended out straight.

Now, extend your right arm fully straight out in front of you, just under the waterline. Keep your right-hand open with the palm down.

Holding both your legs together, lift them slowly, keeping your knees straight. Next, use your hips to generate momentum. Slowly transfer this momentum through your knees to your legs to start kicking—mimicking the kicking action of a dolphin tail.


Water provides continuous resistance, engaging more muscles through a more extensive range of motion.

For this exercise, stand with the pool wall to one side of your body for support. Move 1 leg in a forward direction with the knee straight, like you are kicking. Return to start. Then move the same leg to the side, and return to the start position. Lastly, move that same leg behind you. Repeat this routine 3 sets for a total of 10 reps and switch the kicking leg.


One of the best pool exercises for beginners, the ball allows you to burn fat and work out your core.

To take advantage of this aquatic workout for weight loss, you will need a simple prop⁠: an inflated, waterproof ball with a diameter of about 20 inches. A beach ball with these dimensions is a perfect choice.

Enter the water with the ball. Position yourself in the swimming pool so the water is about chest-high.

Stand up straight, and raise your right leg so that it is bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your right foot about 11 inches (30 cm) in front of your left knee, maintain an upright upper body.

With arms slightly bent, hold the ball with both hands, and position it just in front of your stomach.

Hold this position for approximately 30 seconds. Then switch legs. Repeat this routine five times on each leg for a total of 10 reps.


A moderate-level swimming pool workout, the sprint takes advantage of the water’s resistance. It is an effective exercise for working out the core and for helping burn fat around your mid-section.

Make the most of this exercise to boost your metabolism and lose some pounds. Begin by entering the pool, and move to a section where the water reaches your shoulders.

Facing the interior of the pool, stand about 12 to 16 inches from a pool wall. Then, lean back against the pool edge with your elbows. With both legs together, extend them straight, slowly lifting them until they reach the water surface.

Next, lower them slowly until they are completely straight and nearly reach the pool floor.

Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times or until you feel exhausted. Take a break, and then attempt another set of reps.


The tuck jump is one of the water exercises for weight loss and strengthening your core and leg muscles.

It is simple to perform. However, if you are completely new to working out and have yet to build some strength, this exercise might be rather challenging.

Go to the shallow end in water that is about chest high. From your static standing position in the water, jump vertically. Initiate the action by bending your knees and then lifting your legs and bringing both knees up to your chest.

With each jump, you will have to use your core and your arms to help stabilize yourself in the water and keep your torso upright.

Perform multiple sets. To make the exercise more challenging, do not allow your feet to touch the pool bottom between sets; instead, tread in water in between each jump.


Pool exercises that use weights create even more resistance. That helps you intensify the workout on your arms and legs for building muscle for a trimmer, leaner appearance.

Now, the pool water adds resistance to your moves⁠ as well—making it possible to expend extra calories and increasing the rate at which you lose weight.

To enjoy weight workouts, you will need to invest in some gear. The best options include:

  • Ankle or wrist weights: These strap-on weights increase the resistance when performing leg and arm movements in the water.
  • Foam dumbbells: Lightweight when dry, this equipment becomes heavy when you put them in the water.
  • Buoyancy belt: By helping you to keep your head above the waterline, this accessory helps you perform arm exercises without treading water.

A good example of a water exercise involving weights is the lateral arm lift. Stand in the pool water so that it reaches your shoulders. Hold the foam dumbbells down at your sides, palms facing inward.

Simultaneously raise both of your arms out to the side until they become level with the water surface and your shoulders.

Lower your arms back down to your sides, and repeat. Do one to three sets of 8 to 14 repetitions.


If you are looking for swimming pool workouts to get your legs and bottom in shape, the plie jump is a sure winner. The added resistance from the pool water makes the exercise even more effective than the dry-land version.

Start by standing in the pool with the water just above your waist. Like a dancer, bring both heels together, fanning out your feet about 45 degrees and bending your knees outward.

Next, jump straight up out of the water as high as you can. Initiate the jumping action from your feet—lift your heel slightly and then bend your toes to push off the pool’s bottom. As you come down, return your knees to the partially bent position.

To increase the workout intensity, do not allow any rest in between the jumps. You can also maximize engagement of your quadriceps: Each time you come down from the jump, bend your knees more to go further down in the water—almost like a squat. The deeper you go, the harder your quads will have to push you out of the squat position.


DID YOU KNOW you burn three times the calories during water workouts than walking? Simply treading water in a pool burns 11 calories per minute; that’s the same as running six miles per hour! The key is in resistance. Results include total toning and increased cardio benefits over traditional workouts.

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