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7 Pool Exercises For Weight Loss And Full-Body Toning In 2024
Some people love the grind of a bustling gym environment. Others prefer to work out at home. And, the rest of us? We’d rather be hanging out in the fresh air, the cool breeze, and the sunshine, especially in the middle of summer. Luckily enough, pool workouts and pool exercises are some of the most effective ways to lose weight while soaking up plenty of sun to make your vitamin D.
What are some of the best swimming exercises for weight loss? Check out some of our absolute favorites below.
7 Best Pool Exercises To Lose Weight
- Jumping Jacks
- Leg Kicks
- High-Knee Lift Extensions
- Back Wall Glide
- Lateral Arm Lifts
Pool Exercises For Weight Loss
Our favorite swimming exercises for weight loss are surprisingly simple—many of them involve the lower body, the core muscles, and invigorating arm movements that can help you tone your entire physique from top to bottom.
The following water exercises for belly fat are low-impact and perfect for improving strength throughout the entire body.
As far as swimming pool exercises go, walking in water isn’t exactly the most hardcore thing that many think of first. Even if you’re not a total beginner, though, this pool exercise for weight loss is an awesome way to build strength in your midsection, while gaining a sense of balance for when you advance your pool exercise routine.
How to do:
- To walk in the water, find a section of the pool where the water reaches your waist.
- Stand up straight, lean back into your heels, and step forward with your arms extended on either side under the water.
- Try to engage your core and avoid walking on your tiptoes—just like any squat worth its salt, the intensity of this workout has a lot to do with how much you commit to each step.
- Keep your back straight, and your arms extended underwater, and engage your core muscles throughout the exercise
- Focus on steady, purposeful steps to create resistance in the water.
- Start with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your water walking workouts.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Two or three sets per workout, for 10-15 minutes of continuous walking per set.
Can you ever really deny the appeal of a classic day of swimming serenely in the sun? Even if your form isn’t exactly Olympics-caliber, even just doggy-paddling around for the afternoon works out your entire body. Once you get your sea legs, you can focus on improving your average lap time, even in a very small swimming pool.
What are some of the best swimming strokes for your pool workout? Backstrokes, breaststrokes, freestyle strokes, and butterfly strokes all bring their unique challenges to the table. Try them all, and keep practicing until you’re a star. For those comfortable in deeper water, treading water has an excellent payoff for exertion.
How to do:
- Enter water, and stay relaxed.
- Flutter kick legs gently.
- Alternate arm strokes smoothly.
- Breathe rhythmically, and exhale in water.
- Practice and build endurance over time.
- Stay hydrated, and avoid overexertion to prevent cramps.
- Use proper breathing techniques for efficient swimming.
- Start slowly, and focus on form before increasing speed or distance.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Start with four to six sets of 50 meters with a 30-60 second rest between each set.
Jumping jacks are some of the best upper-body exercises for weight loss. If you love to do them, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be able to do them in the pool as a part of your pool exercise workout plan.
How to do:
- Stand with feet together, arms at sides.
- Jump, spread your legs, and raise your arms overhead.
- Return to the starting position for one rep.
- Repeat for cardio and total body workout.
- Breathe rhythmically, and engage the core.
- Land softly to reduce the impact on joints.
- Maintain proper form to avoid strain.
- Start slowly, then increase intensity gradually.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Aim for three to four sets of 20-30 repetitions.
Pool planks and other exercises utilizing the plank position give you a significant edge if your fitness levels aren’t yet high enough to support your body on the ground. Hold for as long as possible when you first get started. Then, you can try different variations, underwater leg kicks among them.
If your pool is too deep to plant without submerging your head, you can support yourself using the wall of the pool. Flutter your legs, kicking until you begin to feel the burn. Rest briefly and repeat as many times as desired.
How to do:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands on hips.
- Kick one leg forward, then return to the starting position.
- Alternate legs in a controlled, rhythmic motion.
- Engage the core for balance and stability.
- Maintain controlled and deliberate leg kicks for better results.
- Focus on your breathing to stay relaxed during the exercise.
- Gradually increase the number of kicks and sets as you progress.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Three sets of 15-20 kicks per leg.
High-Knee Lift Extensions
Underwater running also takes many forms—chaos cardio is one of them, wherein the underwater runner pushes themselves to the limit while running in place in neck-deep water.
The more you’re able to build up your stamina, the more intensely you can run on the pool floor. Knee highs, the same as the cardio workout you’re likely familiar with on dry land, can help you burn calories fast.
How to do:
- Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your knees high, and extend the opposite arm.
- Alternate quickly in a controlled manner.
- Engage the core for balance and stability.
- Focus on lifting knees high for maximum intensity.
- Maintain a brisk and controlled pace throughout.
- Keep your upper body upright with good posture.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Aim for three to four sets of 30-45 seconds for each leg.
Back Wall Glide
If you’ve ever taken a swim class, this classic move was likely one of your favorites.
To begin, grab ahold of the pool wall and lean your head back. Using the wall for support and leverage, push yourself back gently from the wall. It’s the perfect way to begin a lap of backstrokes—this is one iconic move for any routine of swimming pool workouts, offering a fun transition between different rounds of full-length stroke exercises.
How to do:
- Grab the pool wall, lean back, and support yourself.
- Gently push away from the wall.
- Ideal for transitioning to backstroke laps in your workout routine.
- Maintain a relaxed head position for smoother backstroke transitions.
- Use the wall for support and leverage to conserve energy.
- Incorporate this move for fluid transitions in your swim workout.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Aim for 4-5 sets.
Lateral Arm Lifts
If you’ve ever done a lateral arm lift in the gym, you already know you’ll need a pair of the styrofoam dumbbells mentioned above.
How to do:
- Find neck-deep water in the pool.
- Extend arms sideways with foam dumbbells.
- Begin arm pumps, submerging dumbbells.
- Return arms slowly to start.
- Repeat for desired reps.
- Maintain controlled, even arm movements for stability.
- Engage your core for balance and buoyancy.
- Gradually increase the number of reps as your strength improves.
Optimal Sets and Reps: Start with 2-3 sets, 10-15 repetitions per set.
Benefits Of Pool Workouts For Weight Loss
What can 12 weeks of pool workouts do for you? A ton. Here are a couple of reasons we love to exercise in pools. Pool exercise’s most important benefit is that it truly does reach every part of your body—the core-stabilizing muscles, your lower body, your arms, and your shoulder muscles. This allows you to continue building muscle everywhere using only a few simple moves.
Pool water offers your workout a natural form of water resistance and, when you’re working out in waist-high water, it pushes on you from all directions. Pool water is a giant set of weights that make arm exercises, leg movements, and cardio fitness moves much more effective than they would be on the sidelines.
Of course, increasing your physical activity levels alone is one excellent way to improve your quality of life in a general sense, pool workouts being no exception. Pool workouts can prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension later in life. If you’re at risk for any of these conditions, losing weight in the pool is the perfect way to reap the rewards in one of the most idyllic, relaxing manners possible.
Among all of these incredible reasons to include aquatic exercises in your fitness routine, you’ll also find the following benefits in the pool area, as well:
- A pool-based exercise routine is unlikely to result in overheating, dehydration, or heat stroke, which is great for those living in very warm climates
- Exercising in water can help you improve muscle tone and build more lean muscle by facilitating better microcirculation
- Being immersed in water reduces the impact that exercise has on your bones and major muscle groups—you’re burning plenty of calories without damaging your body
- Pool workouts aren’t just great for weight loss; they’re also one powerful tool for rehabilitation after an injury, improving biomechanics throughout the body, improving pain-free movement, and getting you back on your feet faster
We’re not saying that your land-based cardio workout needs to be replaced entirely—in fact, research shows that a fitness routine that includes both ordinary exercises on dry ground and water-based exercises may result in a more comprehensive and rewarding weight loss plan overall. However, counteracting gravity with the buoyancy of water allows you to exercise with the least wear and tear on your joints.
Special Equipment For Doing Pool Exercises
Many best water exercises for weight loss keep things simple—really, all you need to lose weight through water workouts is a pool and a swimsuit.
Aside from the pool itself and any swimming pool athletic wear, you might also consider including the following pool workout gear for your nautical water workout routine:
- Aqua dumbbells—instead of heavy weights, you’ll use soft foam dumbbells that resist being pulled under pool water
- A water jogging belt, which offers you the same benefits as a treadmill, only without the wear and tear on your knees
- Swim training gloves and resistance fins, webbed gloves that increase the resistance of each stroke
- Kickboards and boogie boards, and a pool plank or diving board
- Water shoes for traction and protection from rough pool floors
- Other weighted gear if your fitness levels are high enough to carry them
- A swim bar for stabilization and strength training
- Pool noodles, because they’re both fun and can be used to support several full-body workout exercises in chest-deep water
You’ll find the majority of these things in stores like Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and, of course, on Amazon. If you’re curious but you’re not sure what you need, be sure to watch plenty of demonstration videos online to get an idea of what you’ll use the most. If you’re a beginner, however, all you need is yourself in a safe water environment; you can add the other items as you become more comfortable (and adventurous).
We love pool workouts for weight loss because they’re fun, gentle, and truly help you burn more body fat for your time. Whether you’re working around issues like joint injuries or are simply looking for a new way to get fit in the sunshine, all of the pool exercises mentioned above can help you slim down fast.
Think, “Swimming is slimming!”The long and short of it: swimming pool workouts are awesome, and they can help you burn fat and lose weight right in your swimming pool. Whether you love swimming pool exercises at home, at the gym, or with a buddy, there’s nothing like a bit of waist-deep water and a lovely day in the sun.
+ 3 sources
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- Faíl, L.B., Marinho, D.A., Marques, E.A., Costa, M.J., Santos, C.C., Marques, M.C., Izquierdo, M. and Neiva, H.P. (2021). Benefits of aquatic exercise in adults with and without chronic disease—A systematic review with meta‐analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, [online] 32(3), pp.465–486. doi:10.1111/sms.14112.
- Kamioka, H. and Honda, T. (2012). Curative and health enhancement effects of aquatic exercise: evidence based on interventional studies. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, [online] p.27. doi:10.2147/oajsm.s30429.
- Carayannopoulos, A.G., Han, A. and Burdenko, I.N. (2020). The benefits of combining water and land-based therapy. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, [online] 16(1), pp.20–26. doi:10.12965/jer.1938742.371.