How Many Laps Should I Swim to Lose Weight?

Swimming is an effective cardiovascular exercise that can help you lose weight. As with any exercise, swimming alone will not cause you to lose weight unless you combine regular lap swimming sessions with a healthy, calorically balanced diet.

Swimming laps is an excellent way to lose weight. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/GettyImages)

Avoid consuming the calories you burned during a swimming session by rewarding yourself with empty calories. Eat three meals and at least two snacks throughout the day, decreasing your caloric consumption by 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Women should never consume less than 1,200 calories and men 1,800 calories a day according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Tip

Increase the number of laps you swim in 30 minutes to at least 67 to maximize your fat-burning potential.

Benefits of Swimming Laps

Swimming increases your fitness, assists in recovery from injury, relieves stress and effectively burns calories, according to Bucknell University. When you swim laps, your body encounters 12 to 14 percent greater resistance than performing the same movement out of the water.

That resistance is the thing that allows you to build muscle while swimming laps. But it also decreases the stress gravity places upon your body. Apart from the fact that you have to go all out for 30 to 60 minutes, it's a win-win exercise.

Best Strokes to Lose Weight

All swimming strokes are not created equal. Swimming.org rated the strokes according to their ability to help you lose weight. The butterfly comes out on top. Unfortunately, it's the hardest stroke to learn and definitely not for beginners. It'll burn a whopping 409 calories per 30 minutes for a 155-pound person.

The freestyle and backstroke come in second and third, burning 409 and 298 calories, respectively, for a 30-minute workout for a 155-pound person. And the breaststroke comes in last, burning 200 calories per 30-minute swim. Considering that the butterfly and freestyle, or front crawl as it's also called, burn about the same number of calories, you can switch them up during your workout to avoid boredom.

Improve Your Stroke

As you get more comfortable swimming laps, improve the efficiency of your stroke to increase your speed and burn more calories. Use swim fins to build your lower body strength and help your ankle flexibility, both of which will help you swim faster. Work to increase both your stroke length and frequency so you travel across the lane faster. You will then be able to swim more laps in a shorter amount of time.

Time Yourself Swimming a Lap

Use a clock or a watch to time how long it takes you to complete one lap of the pool at your normal speed with your favorite swimming stroke. Repeat with all the strokes you know how to do. You may find that you swim the freestyle the fastest, followed by the back, breast and side stroke.

If you want to swim for 30 minutes, divide 30 minutes by your average lap time to determine how many laps you need to swim. For example, if you swim a lap in 45 seconds, you need to swim about 67 laps to complete a 30-minute workout.

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