Most people want to know how many calories they can burn when swimming. How many calories do freestyle and other swimming strokes burn? The answer: probably much more than they think.
Of course, there are many different variables. Age, gender, weight, intensity levels, the type you choose and more affect how many calories you burn when swimming different strokes.
Swimming and other forms of exercise to burn calories
Researchers at Harvard broke down the number of calories burned in a series of activities in 30 minutes. They looked at just about every move you could think of, including things that are not really “activities” in the physical sense.
They looked at calories burning for 125, 155, and 185 pounds individuals.
Swimming for weight loss and calorie burning worked exceptionally well and burned more calories than other traditional sports and activities such as cross-country skiing, football, and boxing sparring. The activities that burned more calories than swimming was running at a pace of 8 miles or faster and cycling at 16 mph or faster.
Per 30-minute workout for a 185-pound person:
- Freestyle or front crawl burns 488 calories
- Running 6.7 mph burns 488 calories
- Running burns 289 calories
Which type of swimming burns the most calories?
When calorie burning in the pool comes up, the second question is: What is the best swimming type for weight loss?
Freestyle (front crawl) and butterfly led the herd, with our 185-pound example person burning 488 calories per 30 minutes of swimming. Freestyle is the most performed stroke performed in the pool.
Even beginners and expert swimmers struggle to maintain effective form and technique for extended periods when swimming butterfly.
Harvard places swimming breaststroke in third place in the calorie-melting competition and burns 444 calories per half hour of swimming. Fourth goes back to just 355 calories.
Ultimately, the “best” swims for weight loss come down to what you are good at in the water.
How to maximize calorie burning in the water
Before you tear down to the pool to put on your Phelps, here are some helpful tips to ensure that you continue to burn calories from swimming long after the first few weeks.
Interval training to break up the long swims
HIIT is not just for land-based activities. You can incorporate the fat and calorie-bursting effects of high-intensity interval training without having to open yourself up to increased load or joint load.
Interval training is a proven and powerful way to get a great workout in a fraction of the time and burn many calories.
Mix up swimming strokes to reduce injuries
Swimming is not without injuries. The swimmer’s shoulder and breaststroke marks are two of the most common due to overconsumption, muscle imbalances, and poor technique.
Mix up when you get in the water to keep things healthy and reduce the overload of the same muscles. You can perform different strokes, including kicking on a board to target your legs or pulling with a pull buoy to target your upper body.
Record your progress to stay motivated
Your body is an excellent, magical, and incredibly versatile piece of machinery. If calorie burning and weight loss are your goals, it’s essential to regularly turn up the intensity and challenge of your workouts to keep your metabolic engine running.