You already know that a backyard swimming pool can turn your ordinary yard into a relaxing and beautiful retreat, but what you may not know is that a swimming pool provides one of the best fat burning workouts available. That’s because water is 800 times denser than air, so every time you kick, pull, or push the water, you’re doing a resistance workout, which burns fat and leads to lean muscle and an increased metabolism.

Swimming is also a safe, low-impact workout: According to Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington, because water neutralizes gravity, you can swim almost every day without worrying about injuries.

If you want to use your backyard pool to get a workout, here are some great workouts designed for all levels.

Beginner Swimming Pool Exercises

If you’re just starting your fitness routine, some of the exercises you can do in your pool are:

  • Simple swimming. Most people are surprised at how effective swimming leisurely laps in the pool is for burning fat and toning muscles. A relaxed swim burns approximately 500 calories an hour. If you’re just starting out, plan to swim a few laps, take a break, and then swim more. Your goal is to build up to doing as many as you can without taking a break.

  • The bicycle. Rest your elbows on the side of the pool and use your legs to “pedal” an imaginary bicycle. This will not only burn fat, but also help strengthen your core, shoulders, and legs.

  • The dolphin. Work out your core, legs, and back by grabbing edge of the pool with your left hand and putting your right hand, fingers pointing down, just underneath the water line. Then, with your legs held together, let them float up and begin kicking like a dolphin.

Bonus Beginner Workout: The ball. Work out your core and burn belly fat by standing with your right leg bent and your left leg pushed back. Hold a ball with both hands positioned in front of your belly. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch legs. Do this five times on each side.

Moderate Swimming Pool Exercises

Ready to take things up a notch? Add these workouts to your pool fitness routine:

  • Moderate swimming. If you can easily swim a few laps, you can not only add in more laps at a faster pace, but you can also mix in some other strokes to work out different parts of your body. For example, the backstroke works your back and shoulder muscles, while the breaststroke works your inner thigh muscles and hips.

  • Sprint. Lean on the edge of the pool with your elbows and, with your legs straight and held together, lift them up until they reach the top of the water and then lower them. The resistance from the water makes this an effective exercise and will help strengthen your core while burning fat.

  • Tuck jump. Stand in the water and jump, bringing your knees up to your chest. Doing this in multiple sets will help trim your legs and strengthen your core. To make it more difficult, don’t allow your feet to touch the bottom of the pool, but tread water in-between jumps.

Bonus Moderate Workout: Bicycle with a twist. If doing the bicycle at the edge of the pool is too easy for you, make it more difficult by using a noodle to sit on while “cycling” across the pool. Your abs will have to work hard to keep you balanced, and your legs will work even harder to power you across the pool.

Advanced Swimming Pool Exercises

Ready for a challenge? Burn even more calories with these intense moves:

  • Pro swimming. Mix up your strokes and swim as fast as you can across the pool. You’ll burn about 700 calories an hour and boost your metabolism with this high-intensity cardio workout so that you continue burning fat well after you’ve left the pool.

  • Add weights. Bringing weights into the pool to work your arms is a great way to build lean muscle mass. The water adds extra resistance to the moves, which increases the burn. Use special weights designed for the pool when doing moves like the butterfly and bar lift.

  • The noodle plank. Do planks in the pool by using a noodle to hold onto while you push your legs out into plank positon. The water resistance will make it more difficult, and you’ll need to use your abs and core to hold the positon.

Bonus Advanced Workout: Plie jump. This is a great way to get your bottom and legs in shape out of the water, but add in the water resistance and it’s a sure winner. Start by standing with your heels together and knees bent outwards and jump as high as you can. To increase the intensity of the workout, don’t allow any rest time between jumps. Remember, the further down you go after each jump, the harder your quads will have to work to push you out of it.

Swimming pool workouts are a great way to burn fat, trim your body, and have fun in the process. After all, would you rather work out in the middle of a crowded gym or in the privacy of your own backyard retreat in your very own swimming pool?

10 Fat Blasting Pool Exercises to Lose Weight Now

Your backyard swimming pool offers more than just long hours of fun and relaxation for you and the whole family. Pool exercises and water aerobics are a fun and cool way to lose weight and stay fit as temperatures soar with the coming of summer.

Benefits of Pool Exercises

Pool exercises look like you’re not straining as much as you would be when working out on dry land. But looks can definitely be deceiving. In fact, pool exercises offer a lot of great benefits especially if you’re looking to lose weight.

Strengthens muscles

Studies show that pool water provides as much as 42 times resistance than air. That means that your muscles would need to work harder as you do your reps during your pool exercise routine, which, in turn, means that more calories are being burned by your body.

Builds endurance

When you do your workout routines on land, your body would simply have to push and pull against your free weights and gravity.

Working out in your swimming pool is different because, in addition to having to push and pull against the weight and gravity, you also need now to push and pull against the pool water that is also pushing and pulling against your body. The added resistance pushes your workout routine just a notch higher, helping your muscles build endurance more quickly

Pool exercises also are great in helping build up the endurance of your cardiovascular area. Studies show that blood moves through the body at a faster rate to warm it up in cooler temperatures like in dipping in your pool water. Over time, your cardiovascular performance will strengthen.

Pool exercises are low-impact

The buoyancy of your pool’s water lessens the amount of impact your joints take when doing pool exercises, so you not only minimize the risk of injury but working out will also be less painful and taxing.

Stress reliever

Exercise, in general, help release endorphins in the body which help you feel good and reduce stress levels. Combine this with the natural relaxing property of just immersing yourself in warm water can help make you feel more relaxed and refreshed, even after working out.

Burn fat faster

Studies show that you need to burn about 3500 calories just to get rid of one pound of fat. The good news is that a 1-hour pool workout session can help you easily burn as much as 600 calories! It’s no wonder then why people who swim every day lose weight at a much faster pace.

Great for all ages

Perhaps the best part about doing pool exercises is that they could be done by anyone regardless of age or fitness level, making this a fun and healthy bonding activity for the whole family.

10 Fat Burning Pool Exercises

  1. Water Jogging This is one of the easiest and most effective fat-burning pool exercises, with you burning off 17 calories per minute. Simply jog across your pool area in waist-high water starting at 1-minute intervals and then working your way up to 3-minute intervals. Carry some free pool weights to help you tone your arms at the same time.
  2. Treading Intervals This pool workout routine will help you slim down faster, and firm up all over. Head over to the deep end of the pool and tread as hard as you can without stopping for 30 seconds. Then float on your back for 30 seconds. Doing 30 of these bursts in one afternoon, and you’ll be able to burn up 300 calories every day easily.
  3. Step Push-ups Start in a plank position in the shallow end of your pool with your hands on the top of the pool step and toes planted on the pool floor. Slowly bend your elbows to lower as far as you can without getting your face wet. Straighten your elbows and repeat. Begin with 2 sets of 15 reps and work your way up to 3 sets of 15.
  4. Waist-deep lunges Jumping while doing this pool exercise deals some high impact calorie burning without hurting your joints. To do this, stand in waist-deep water. Lunge with the right foot forward with your right thigh parallel to the pool floor, your left knee bent, and your hands on your hips. Quickly jump up and scissor your legs so that you land with your left leg forward. Do this for 15 to 20 times per set.
  5. Chaos running This is a more advanced version of water jogging. Instead of jogging in a straight line, jog across your pool following a zigzag pattern. This will create several currents in the pool, increasing your pool water’s resistance which will help further strengthen all your core stabilizing muscles.
  6. Fetching game Throw an inflatable pool ball all way to the other side of the pool and briskly jog towards this. Get your kids or friends to dive in and race who will be the first to reach it. In all of the fun and excitement, you won’t even realize you’ve already been making sprints in your pool, which will help you burn out 175 calories in as little as 20 minutes.
  7. Beach ball workout Trying to submerge a floating beach ball is not only a lot of fun, but it also is a great pool workout to tone your core and upper body. Try using different movements to vary the muscles that are targeted. For example, pressing it down with your forearms will help you tone your upper arm and shoulder muscles.
  8. Pool plank Whether done on land or as a pool exercise, planking is a very effective way to strengthen your core muscles and strengthen your upper body. At the same time, planking also helps boost your body’s endurance level.Stand in waist-high pool water. Hold a water log or kicking board in both hands. Slowly press it straight down into the water while leaning your body forward until your body is on an even incline. Make sure that your feet stay planted on the pool floor and your head is above water. Try and keep yourself stable for 1 to 2 minutes
  9. Arm presses The resistance coming from the water helps you firm up those flabby arms as well as strengthening and toning your shoulder and upper back muscles. Stand in chest-deep water with your palms open and your fingers spread apart. Move your arms back and forth and up and down. Slowly increase the speed as you do this. Use free weights if you want to add the challenge further.
  10. Shuffle slides This pool exercise will help tone your inner and outer thighs. With your hands on your hips, spread legs so that they are shoulder apart. Bring your left leg towards your right leg in a quick, but smooth, movement so that you’re standing with your feet close together. Spread your right leg so that they are once again shoulder-length apart, and repeat. Do this until you reach the other end of your pool.

    Getting the Most Out of Your Pool Exercises

    Even though pool exercises are far easier and more fun to do than working out in the gym, you’d still want to make sure that you get the most benefit out of every workout routine and rep. Here are some ways to make sure that you reap optimum rewards out of your pool workout.

    Use free weights

    One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing pool exercises is that they believe that simply doing laps around the pool is enough to lose weight. In fact, purely concentrating on cardio exercises in your pool will actually cause your metabolism to slow down, which means that it becomes even more difficult to lose weight. Alternating this with pool exercises that focus on resistance training and using free weights can actually help you build and tone your muscles, which, in turn, helps speed up your body’s fat-burning capability.

    Have some music

    A study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology showed that music affects your overall mood while working out. Fast, upbeat songs help you get more pumped up and able to do more reps while slow, relaxing music helps your body cool down and recover faster. You can easily find waterproof ear pieces and cases for your smartphone in your local sports store.

    Load up on carbs before working out

    Eating some carbs before jumping in to do your pool exercises provides your body the fuel it needs to go through a high-intensity workout so that you’re able to put in more effort when doing your pool workout routine.

    Break up your routine in intervals

    Alternating high-intensity pool exercises with short breaks will not only help you lose weight faster, but it will also help increase your cardiovascular endurance level.

    Do your pool exercises in waist-deep water

    Unless you are doing laps or treading pool exercises, make it a point to do your pool workout routine in waist-deep water. This will provide your body with enough resistance to get the most of your water aerobics. At the same time, your feet will still get good contact on the pool floor to help you stay well-balanced throughout the different pool exercises.

    Wear water shoes

    Water shoes will help prevent you from slipping while doing your pool exercises. They will also help improve traction while adding a bit more resistance, resulting in providing your more intense pool workouts.

    Drink chocolate milk

    Yes, you read that right. According to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology, drinking a glass of low-fat chocolate milk immediately after an intense workout helps your body recover faster compared to taking those commercial recovery drinks. This alone is reason enough for you to be motivated to do some pool workouts every day.

    Get a good night’s sleep

    No matter how intense your pool exercise routines are, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it wouldn’t help you lose weight one bit. In fact, a study published in the Sports Review discovered that poor quality of sleep and not sleeping enough can actually lead to poor athletic performance, a lower amount of calories your body burns while working out, and even cause your weight to plateau. So make sure that you get anywhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

How to Swim to Lose Weight and Tone Up

Whether you’re swimming to lose belly fat, increase muscle tone, or just change up your workout, here’s how to get the best results.

1. Swim in the morning before eating

A morning swim isn’t feasible for everyone, but it’s worth a try if you can access a pool before work.

“Waking up in the morning and going for your swim will leave your body in a fasted state ready to utilize those fat stores as energy,” explains Nick Rizzo, a trainer and fitness director at, an athletic shoe review site. “Swimming isn’t only a great form of cardio, but it’s a full-body workout as well, so you can expect some great results.”

2. Swim harder and faster

Swimming burns a lot of calories when you’re just starting out. But as your swimming skills improve and you become more efficient, your heart rate doesn’t increase as much, warns Paul Johnson, founder of, a website providing guidance, tips, and gear reviews for swimmers, triathletes, and fitness enthusiasts.

The solution, according to Johnson, is to swim harder and faster to keep your heart rate up.

Wear a waterproof fitness tracker to monitor your heart rate while swimming. Your target heart rate during a moderate-intensity workout should be about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

3. Take a swim class

Learning proper stroke techniques can help you swim at a moderate pace. Contact a community center or YMCA for information on swim lessons, or sign up for a class through the American Red Cross.

4. Switch up your swim routine

If you swim at the same speed and use the same technique over and over again, your body may eventually hit a plateau.

Stepping outside your comfort zone and modifying your routine is an excellent way to utilize different muscle groups, helping to maximize your results.

5. Swim four to five days a week

To lose weight, the more physically active you are, the better. This applies whether you’re jogging, walking, using cardio equipment, or swimming.

The frequency of swimming for weight loss is the same as other cardiovascular exercises, so aim for four to five days a week for the best results, according to Jamie Hickey, a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with Truism Fitness.

6. Start slow

Start with 15 to 20 minute swims every other day, and then gradually increase to 30 minute swims five days a week, as your body allows. If you start a new swimming routine at too high an intensity, muscle soreness and fatigue could cause you to give up.

7. Alternate swimming with water aerobics

You don’t have to swim every day to see results. Take a water aerobics class on your off days. This is an excellent low-stress exercise to keep moving on active recovery days.

8. Swim with a float or pool noodle

If you’re not a strong swimmer, swim laps in the pool using a pool noodle, kick board, or life vest. These will keep you afloat as you use your arms and legs to move through the water.

9. Use water weights

If you’re swimming to lose weight and tone up, do a few bicep curls with water dumbbells in between laps. The water creates resistance, which can help build strength and endurance.

10. Adjust your diet

With any weight loss program, you must burn more calories than you take in, swimming is no exception.

“If your aim is to lose a few pounds, you still need to make adjustments to your diet,” mentions Keith McNiven, founder of the personal training company Right Path Fitness.

“And be careful. Swimming takes a lot of energy, so you’ll need to refuel with food. Also, the cold water can cause your appetite to increase substantially after a session.”

If you’re feeling hungrier, McNiven recommends adding more vegetables to your plate, grabbing a protein shake, and staying away from snacking.

Try These 8 Pool Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

1. Walk in water

Walking in water is a good exercise to start off with as it helps you get a feeling for how you can create resistance. Walking in water can target your arms, core, and lower body. You can increase the intensity by using hand or ankle weights.

  1. Start off walking in shallow water, around waist height.
  2. Lengthen your spine and walk by putting pressure on your heel first and then your toes, instead of walking on your tiptoes.
  3. Keep your arms at your side, in the water, and move them as you walk.
  4. Engage your core and stand tall as you walk.
  5. Continue walking for 5-10 minutes.

2. Water arm lifts

This exercise will help strengthen the muscles in your arms. Using foam dumbbells will help add more resistance.

  1. Stand in water up to your shoulders.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your side, with your palms facing up.
  3. Draw your elbows in close to your torso as you lift your forearms to the height of the water.
  4. Rotate your wrists to turn your palms facedown.
  5. Lower your arms back to the starting position.
  6. Do 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.

3. Lateral arm lifts

This exercise, which targets your upper body, is also best done with foam dumbbells.

  1. Stand in water up to your shoulders.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your side.
  3. Raise your arms to the side until they’re level with the water and your shoulders.
  4. Lower your arms back down to your sides.
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 8-14 repetitions.

4. Back wall glide

This exercise helps to activate the muscles in your core and lower body.

  1. Hold onto the pool ledge, tuck your knees into your chest, and press your feet into the wall.
  2. Push off from the wall and float on your back as far as you can.
  3. Draw your knees into your chest, press your feet down to the bottom of the pool, and run back to the wall.
  4. Continue this exercise for 5-10 minutes.

5. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks work the muscles in both your upper and lower body. You can add resistance with wrist and ankle weights.

  1. Stand in water at chest level.
  2. Start with your feet together and your arms at your side.
  3. Jump by moving your legs outward and, at the same time, bringing your arms over your head.
  4. Jump again to return to the starting position with your feet together and your arms at your side.
  5. Do 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

6. Leg shoots

This dynamic exercise works your core, low back, and legs.

  1. Keep your feet off the bottom of the pool during this exercise.
  2. Tuck your knees into your chest.
  3. Explosively press your feet and legs out in front and float flat on your back.
  4. Draw your knees back into your chest.
  5. Press your legs out behind you so you’re floating on your stomach.
  6. This is 1 repetition. Do 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

7. High-knee lift extensions

This exercise can strengthen the muscles in your core and lower body. Add ankle weights to increase the difficulty.

  1. Stand in water at waist height.
  2. Engage your core as you lift your right leg, bending your knee until your leg is level with the water.
  3. Pause with your leg lifted for a few seconds.
  4. Extend your leg straight out and hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg down, keeping it straight.
  6. Repeat this move with your left leg.
  7. Continue for 5-10 minutes.

8. Leg kicks

This exercise works the muscles in your core and legs. Use ankle weights to make it more challenging.

  1. Hold onto the pool ledge or hold a kickboard.
  2. Flutter-kick your legs.
  3. Scissor-kick your legs open and closed.
  4. Do a breaststroke kick with your legs.
  5. Follow with dolphin kicks.
  6. Do each kick for 1-3 minutes.

5 Simple and Fun Water Aerobics Exercises for Seniors

Staying active as a senior can be tough. Achy joints that don’t work as well as they used to make it hard to go for a walk or incorporate strength exercises into a daily routine. However, exercising in the water is great for reducing arthritis and other joint pain because it puts less stress on the joints and the buoyancy of the water helps reduce the pressure on joints. Water also acts as a form of resistance, so strength exercises can be performed in the water without heavy weights. Performing strength exercises and using resistance will increase flexibility and balance and decrease bone and muscle loss.

We suggest giving the following exercises a try, but keep these safety tips in mind: be aware of your limits, never do water aerobics alone (it’s not as fun, anyway), and speak with your doctor about how your medications and overall fitness mesh with water aerobics.

1. Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging is the perfect aerobic, low-impact exercise to get the heart pumping and blood flowing throughout the body. Aqua jogging can be as simple as jogging through the water from one side of the pool to the other. This exercise can also be simplified to walking back and forth in the pool or jogging or marching in place. Aqua jogging is designed to get the heart rate up and keep it up, so whichever modification you choose, be sure it’s at least a little challenging.

2. Flutter Kicking

Flutter kicking is another great low-impact cardio exercise. This exercise can be performed with or without a kickboard. With a kickboard, hold it out in front of you and flutter kick your legs to propel you back and forth across the pool. You can also flutter kick without a kickboard if one is not available. Perform a front float with your head above water while holding onto the side of the pool and flutter kick your legs. Whichever way you do it, kick at a steady tempo that doesn’t tire you too quickly but also gets the heart pumping.

3. Leg Lifts

Using the resistance of the water, leg lifts work all of the muscles in the legs. For this exercise, stand in the pool and lift one leg out to the side and back down. Repeat until your leg feels tired, then switch legs and perform the exercise on the other leg. Not only does this exercise work the legs, it also improves balance and strengthens your core.

4. Standing Water Push-ups

Water push-ups are a great way to build arm, chest, and shoulder strength without putting too much pressure on the joints. Stand along the side of the pool and place your hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart on the gutter or edge of the pool. Bend your arms and lean in toward the wall, then push yourself back out. Repeat this exercise slowly and until your arms feel tired. Be careful not to push it too hard until you know your limits.

5. Arm Curls

For this exercise, stand in the middle of the pool with water weights. Water weights don’t have to be used, but they do offer extra resistance. Hold the weights in front of you, arms in front with palms facing out. Curl the weights up then back down and repeat until fatigue. This exercise can also be done with palms facing toward you instead of away with the same curling motion.

Exercising may not be at the top of your to-do list because of achy joints, arthritis and other health problems that develop with age. However, water aerobic exercises offer a great alternative to traditional exercise at a gym. Perform the above exercises at least three times a week to experience greater flexibility, bone density, and cardiovascular function–plus relief from joint and arthritis pain!


If you live in an area with a community pool, or even better – a college with a pool that employs exercise science students as instructors, there’s a good chance you’ve seen water aerobics advertised in your neighborhood.

These low impact fitness classes tend primarily to be popular with those who have already taken them, even though, like swimming, water aerobics combines challenging work for your muscles with minimal stress on the joints. Some swimmers skip these workouts; water aerobics aren’t flashy, the movements aren’t as fast as with more conventional aerobic exercise, and the real work happens beneath the water. Those who partake, however, know just how effective it is.

In short, water aerobics exercises are a highly recommended way to get fit (and might even help you recover from injury or surgery faster). Classes are great if you can find one, but if you have access to a pool* and no time to take a scheduled class, there are plenty of exercises you can perform on your own, from beginner level to super advanced.

*What’s that? You don’t have access to a pool? How do you survive these Vegas Summers?? You deserve a pool, and we’ve got one that’ll fit your backyard perfectly.

Beginner Water Aerobics Exercises

1. Walking

The Harvard Heart says, “If doing laps isn’t your thing, you can try walking or running in water.” In the water, this is a legitimate exercise, and easy to scale. If you’ve never tried it before, take your time and walk from one side of the shallow end to the other. As you improve, work on longer strides and making the trip in less time.

2. Jumping Jacks

These are no different from the ones you learned to do on normal ground. The coordination is a bit different, but your body will adjust quickly.

3. Sidesteps

If you’ve been in a gym recently, you may have seen people with bands around their thighs, performing lateral movements in a partial squat. This is the same motion, just with water resistance and without the band. You’ll be amazed at how tired your hips and glutes can get doing this exercise.

Intermediate Exercises

1. Treading Water

This isn’t wildly difficult from an aerobic perspective, but it requires more confidence in your swimming ability. Here’s a quick how-to video from iSportdotcom:

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Exercises for water aerobics

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