Can You Lose Belly Fat by Swimming?

For those looking to lose weight, the part of the body that generally causes the most concern is the stomach.  And it’s true that the stomach is often the first place that we’ll notice weight gain.  Beyond aesthetics, the problem with belly fat is that it’s actually more dangerous than fat that accumulates in and around other parts of the body.  Visceral fat, the belly fat that is deposited deep within the spaces around the liver, kidneys and intestines, has been found to trigger inflammation.  This can affect the functioning of the heart, raise the blood pressure and trigger insulin resistance.  Beyond making it tougher to achieve a washboard stomach, belly fat can have serious health effects.  So, what types of exercise can help reduce belly fat?  Can you lose belly fat by swimming?  In this article we’ll investigate how swimming, whether it be in a pool or swim spa can help with your weight loss goals.

The Warmup

The first step to a proper workout is warming up properly.  This will prime your muscles with blood and oxygen and prepare them for optimal flexibility.  It will also reduce the chances of cramping, lactic acid buildup and injury.  Start your warmup before you even get into the pool or swim spa by doing some calisthenics and stretching on dry land.  This will get your heart pumping, your blood moving, and your muscle tissues bathed in oxygen and nutrients.  Once you get into the water, swim at a medium pace using a variety of strokes for about 15 minutes to complete your warmup.

Cardiovascular Training

Also known as aerobic training, the goal of a cardiovascular workout is to challenge your heart and lungs.  Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout because it uses so many different parts of your body at once.  Aside from strengthening your heart, lungs and arteries, cardiovascular training is also one of the best ways to target and burn belly fat.  As you become more accustomed to cardiovascular workouts you should be striving to get your heart rate up into what’s known as the fat burning zone.  This is generally around 60 to 70% of your maximum heart rate.  The rule of thumb for calculating your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.  Once calculated you should try and maintain the 60 to 70% level for at least 30 minutes per session for optimal results.

Form and Technique

If you want your workout to affect your abdomen, paying attention to your form and technique can lead to better results.  One of the benefits of swimming is that it allows your body to remain suspended in positions that would be impossible on dryland.  This allows you to concentrate on your stomach muscles in unique ways.  When swimming on your front, keep your stomach tight by pulling it upwards towards your spine rather than letting it hang freely.  When performing the backstroke, lift your butt as high as possible while keeping your stomach muscles taut.  By concentrating on your form throughout your workout you’ll find your stomach muscles will respond accordingly.

Swimming Aids

Although it may sound like they’re made for children, swimming aids are actually used on a regular basis by the highest level of competitive swimmers.  Swimming aids such as flutter boards, kickboards and weight belts are great for isolating specific muscle groups and ratcheting up the intensity of your workout.  Using a kickboard while performing the backstroke kick is a great way to strengthen the stomach muscles.  If you find your body becoming acclimated to your overall swimming workout, a weight belt can up your calorie burn while increasing the effort required to stay afloat

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