How Long Do You Need to Swim to Get a Good Workout?

by Josh | Last Updated:  July 28, 2020
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When you want to get fit many look to weightlifting and cardio workout machines, while this may be a good option for many people one way that is frequently overlooked is real lap swimming workouts.

Though swimming may be seen as an enjoyable weekend pastime, learning to swim well and efficiently is an amazing workout which allowed Olympic swimmers to eat 11000 calories or more each day!

How long do you need to swim to get a good workout? Start with 30 minute workouts in the pool at least 3-5 times per week. This would be a 5 minute warm up paired with a 20 minute full on swim and finishing with a 5 minute cool down. Preferably swim in a Olympic sized lap pool and count your laps, striving each day to get further and further as a yardstick for your improvement.

After this you may want to start expanding your time and laps as most will reach sessions of at least an hour and push hard through the entire time which is a full body workout.

Lets dig in and see how you can use your access to a pool and to swimming to help you get results and understand how much of a benefit you have been skipping out on.

How Many Laps in a Pool is a Good Workout?

As a beginner you are looking at attempting to get around 20 to 30+ laps in per workout for a good overall workout. This may be your initial goal to work towards if you have never done anything other than recreational “swimming” where you are more relaxed and hanging out.

The next level for an intermediate swimmer would be to aim for between 40 to 60 laps and to increase your speed that you can complete them. As you get more adapted to lap swimming you should see your speed per lap to start dropping allowing more laps in the same workout timeframe.

As you become more adept and more of an advanced swimmer you will want to extend out to 60+ laps and aim for speed and distance. You want to add laps for longer endurance work and strength will help you have faster laps.

How Many Lengths of a 25m Pool is a Mile?

When you want to see how far you can swim in actual distance you want to know the length of the pool to do your math. For us today we will speak from the pool length of 25 meters to make this more standardized as this is called a short course.

First we would want to make sure we have a clear understanding of how the units of measure are for distance. One thing to note is that the longer your pool is the fewer laps that will need to be completed to reach one mile.

Distance (1 Mile) Equivalents
5280 Feet
1760 Yards
1609.3 Meters

So using the overall distance in meters above for a mile you can divide the (1609.3) figure by the lap pool distance (25) to give you the overall lengths you will need to swim, this comes out to approximately 64.4 lengths.

To convert to laps you would then only need to take this lengths number (64.4) and divide it by 2 for the lengths to complete a lap which then brings you to a lap count of (32.2).

So if you swim in a 25 meter lap pool you will need to complete a little over 32 laps to have swam a mile.

Why am I so Tired After Swimming?

Many will believe that they are tired from swimming due to the exertion alone but this is a gross oversimplification. The truth is that multiple systems are being taxed and they each have a recuperation that begins once the activity ends.

The body, no doubt, will be exhausted from exertion that most definitely is occurring after you complete a hard physical workout. It has expended a great level of energy and will look to start the repair processes.

What also happens though in most pools is that the temperature was lower than your core body temperature so your body has been working overtime to contain this cold and maintain your body temperature. Once out of the pool it is still continuing to work and balance this back in line.

These factors lead to the fatigue and weakness you may feel after a good pool swimming session. This and more than likely some super hunger style hungriness!

Keep fit through swimming laps in swimming pool - How Long Do You Need to Swim to Get a Good Workout
Keep fit through swimming laps in swimming pool

Measuring Performance In the Pool

One difficult thing in the water is figuring out how to track and measure your performance other than by using your time versus laps completed. What if there was a better way? Well you are in luck, we live in a time where tools are being created to help track all these details for you!

The best way to manage performance in the pool when you workout by yourself is to make use of a smartwatch and app when possible. There is a brilliant product out there from Swimmo that looks like a perfect fit for those who want to use data for results.

This style of app and tracker combo can yield amazing results to know where you start to lose performance or what you can tweak to increase your performance, data alone is what can help you learn how to tune your results.

Is Swimming Better Than the Gym?

Neither should be considered better than the other, they each serve different purposes and needs of the person doing the activity. If you are looking specifically to gain strength and size then gym work with weights is the pinnacle to reach that desired state.

There is almost nothing I can think of that, like swimming, can allow you to get a full body workout by using every muscle in unison. Additionally it does this without any big impact to any of your joints which specifically is helpful to people with joint or weight issues.

Is Swimming Alone Enough Exercise?

Yes you can get all your exercise through swimming as it is a full body workout but you will hit a limit as to size and strength. If you enjoy swimming though it is the most well rounded exercise you could do if you were to lap swim consistently you will become lean and strong over time.

The long term boosts to your metabolism and effort expended is more than likely all a person needs to stay healthy and fit as long as they don’t over consume on the basis of exercising.

Does Swimming Tone Arms?

All physical work will provide “toning” to your body as toning is just a phrase which means fat loss which allows muscle to chow better providing a toned look.

In this case swimming is excellent for toning your body and arms as you can’t spot lose fat on your arms only. The swim based workouts will ensure a high level of caloric need and help get you burning more calories leading to a loss in your overall body fat.

Swimmers in a freestyle race - How Long Do You Need to Swim to Get a Good Workout
Swimmers in a freestyle race

How Long Does it Take to Get Good at Swimming?

While most adults can “swim” to work hard and get good at swimming will take at a minimum months of hard work and consistency. Online it appears that you will at least sink about 5-6 months to become a decent swimmer. Using a tracker can help you to optimize your swimming and get you moving faster and with more efficiency.

To look at becoming a intermediate or advanced simmer this practice time will need you to continue for at least 1-2 years, many times this will only allow you to master one or two strokes, mastering all of swimming is a lifetime achievement and it is always evolving.

Can I Learn Swimming in 1 Month?

There is no reason why you can’t learn how to swim in a month time, this by no means will make you an Olympic athlete but to achieve a baseline of physical ability to allow you to start doing lap swimming is definitely possible.

What you would want to do is start and focus on hour long sessions and learn how to float, floating is a lot of how swimming actually occurs as you try to stay on top of the water instead of underneath.

How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight by Swimming?

When you are wanting to lose weight you mean body fat and not muscle loss so first thing first, lets stop using the term “weight loss”. For fat loss you need to burn approximately 3500 calories more than you take in, I know there is people who say “my hormones”, and other nonsense.

You will find it takes a decent amount of light swimming to burn through calories but if you are to focus and really approach swimming from the perspective of attempting to lose weight you can burn close to a thousand calories in an hour long workout.

Credit to MySwimPro.com

The king of calorie-burning is butterfly. According to Nutristrategy.com, the calorie torching ranges from 649 calories for a 130-pound person to 1,024 calories for a 205-pound person.

MySwimPro.com

As this shows there is a wide difference in the calorie burn based on the swim stroke used as some require much more body movement than others, so you may start as a front crawl but to get better results sooner may want to transition to the butterfly or breaststroke.

Can Swimming Help You Lose Belly Fat?

No one activity can help you spot reduce or target a specific area, your body adds fat all over as it can and it removes it the same way, you need to focus on putting in the work often and with consistency and you will see your overall body fat drop as long as you are in a caloric deficit.

Four people swimming laps at an outdoor pool - How Long Do You Need to Swim to Get a Good Workout
Four people swimming laps at an outdoor pool

Do Swimmers Live Longer?

For swimmers the good news is that in studies it has been shown that the people who consistently swim have a longer life expectancy than people who just walk or run.

This may be due to the overall physical workout that is done being more of a full body routine and that it is a push on the cardiovascular system also. This helps to make your entire body stronger and more fit.

The study goes on to show that a swimmer on average was expected to live almost 10 years longer than the walkers and runners contained within the study, this is quite an amazing find and bodes very well for those who like to get wet!

Final Thoughts on How Long Do You Need to Swim to Get a Good Workout In

Sometimes making a change in your chosen methods to workout can help spawn some amazing leaps in your overall results. Whenever I get tired of trying to lift or run (summer heats here in Texas can be unbearable) adding in swimming is refreshing!

I would suggest finding a gym if you don’t have a pool available to you where you can start learning to do lap swimming as it is a new way to build up your endurance and cardio while putting in work which will help you more than just weights or cardio do by themselves.

I’ll leave you with this final thought, how many of those Olympic swimmers do you see that carry spare tires?

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POLAR VANTAGE V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch for Multisport & Triathlon Training (Heart Rate Monitor, Running Power, Waterproof), Pro (Includes H10 HRM Chest Strap), Black
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POLAR Ignite - Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch (Includes Precision Heart Rate Integrated GPS and Sleep Plus Tracking) (90081718)
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POLAR Ignite - Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch (Includes Precision Heart Rate Integrated GPS and Sleep Plus Tracking) (90081718)
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I grew up in a home where most our days were spent inside, and sports were not a family priority. I did play soccer and baseball as a kid, but the older I got, the more I lost interest. To regain my health, I decided to adhere to the three tenets of health and longevity. I hope you will join me, by making it your purpose to live as long and well as possible.