Chante writes:

You talk about swimming being the best exercise for overweight people, but you don’t tell us how exactly to use swimming. What should overweight people do in the pool? What’s a good workout to start with? What are good beginner workouts, medium level workouts and expert workouts?

Christophe (’s answer:

Well, to be honest, I’m not really a swimming workout kind of guy. I prefer to use the term swim practice. I often decide on the spot what I will do in the pool. That often revolves around which aspect of my technique needs to be improved.

However, all my swim sessions have a common structure. Currently it looks more-less like this:

  • Warmup: 12 lengths of either breaststroke or a swim medley that includes breaststroke, front crawl and backstroke.
  • Tune-in: a few swimming drills to really get the feel of the water. Feeling connected to the water is an important aspect to enjoy swimming. I currently use the following freestyle drills: Under Switch, Zipper Switch and Over Switch.
  • Main practice: Here I work on the technical aspects I want to improve. Typically I alternate lengths of drills and lengths of swimming.
  • Endurance: Depending on the time left, I do a set of between 20 and 30 lengths non-stop.
  • Cooldown: a few relaxed lengths of breaststroke and backstroke.

Now to answer your question, Chante, I think the most important thing you need to do is to get started and find pleasure in your swim sessions. The problem with swim workouts is that they can be kind of monotonous and boring. That’s why I prefer to mix drill lengths and swim lengths on the spot a lot.

If you want to lose weight, I think in the beginning you should go to the pool three times a week and for at least half an hour. Then I would mix drill and swim lengths and start to learn or improve the different swimming strokes. This should keep you busy for a few months.

I suggest three times a week minimum because it is needed to really make progress in your swimming abilities and allow you to stay motivated. Plus I think this will provide enough cardio to start burning fat. More than that and it could become a drag to spend so much time in the pool. You need to see what works best for you.

You are surely aware that you also need to watch your eating habits, because exercise and healthy eating habits are two sides of the same coin when it comes to weight loss.
Good luck!

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