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Plunge into Cardio: How to Swim Off the Calories

Are you getting bored with the treadmill? Hit the pool to scorch fat and improve your stamina with this 650-yard workout.

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte may not have the biggest muscles, but their endurance is untouchable and neither carries an ounce of fat on his body. As the weather warms up, take you cardio to the pool with this routine designed by Gregory Kincheloe, head coach of the elite swimming team at New York Athletic Club in New York City.


Perform the following workout three times a week. Start each exercise at one end of the pool and swim 25 yards unless otherwise noted. If your pool is longer or shorter, go by stroke cycles—a sweep of each arm in turn is one cycle—turning around quickly and continuing to swim until the cycles are complete. After two weeks, reduce all rests by five seconds.

Swim It Off>>>


1. Warm Up

Sets: 4

> Swim 12 stroke cycles at an easy pace. You can use the front crawl stroke or swim freestyle. Rest a moment, then continue for three more sets.

2. 50-yard Swim

Sets: 6
Rest: 30 sec.

> Swim at a brisk pace for 50 yards, or 25 total stroke cycles.

3. Fingertip Drag Stroke

Sets: 4
Rest: 20 sec.

> Swim 12 stroke cycles, raising your elbows high out of the water as you reach for the next stroke so only your fingertips drag beneath the surface. Swim at a relaxed pace.

4. Kick Drill

Sets: 4
Rest: 30 sec.

> Grab a kickboard and rest your arms on it. Swim across the pool using only your legs. Do 25 kick cycles—one flutter of the left and right leg.

5. Pull Drill

Sets: 6
Rest: 20 sec.

> Hold the kickboard between your legs to keep them afloat and swim using only your arms for 12 stroke cycles. Reach each arm far forward, but don’t let your fingers come out of the water.

Need a pool buddy? 

Log onto the United States Masters Swimming website to help you find local places to swim and other beginners to partner with.


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