Let’s be honest; there are very few of us that like to exercise (i.e., definitely not us). However, when you need to lose weight, exercise is, unfortunately, the best way to do so (you know, unless you can magic the weight off you. That would be pretty cool). Swimming has always been regarded as one of the best exercises to lose weight – which is why more and more people are choosing to spend their evenings, mornings or weekends in the pool, swimming length after length. But which is the best stroke to lose weight?
Most people prefer to swim freestyle than any other stroke – and we have to agree with them (although sometimes we do forget to breathe when our head comes out of the water). Freestyle is ultimately the fastest stroke of them all, and normally the faster you go, the more exercise you can get in. And the more calories you burn, of course. Many also find freestyle easier, as it is more of a fluid and efficient motion than the rest. If you were a 155lb person, an hour of swimming freestyle would burn an incredible 704 calories. Much of this stroke is propelled using the upper body, and the legs don’t do a lot – so it’s great for people who want to increase their upper body strength or get rid of that upper arm wobble.
Breastroke is normally the stroke choice of the leisurely swimmer – as it is the slowest of all of the swimming strokes. Despite this, breastroke will burn just as many calories as freestyle; so expect to burn 704 calories for an hours swim. Breastroke takes longer and burns lots of calories because you can’t simply glide through the water, as your body is too wide. Instead, you will have the full force of the water pushing against you, which means you have to work harder to push yourself through. This extra work will pay off in calories (good thing you don’t sweat in water, ey?)
If you’re not fond of putting your head under the water, or struggle to breathe as you come up for air (just like us), backstroke could be the perfect alternative for you. However, if you’re looking to lose weight and keep it off – it burns the least calories out of all of them. For an hour’s work, backstroke will burn around 493 calories. Nevertheless, many people still find success by swimming backstroke. This is because swimming on your back conserves more energy, which means you can swim harder and for longer. In theory, people could spend around an hour and a half swimming backstroke compared to an hour’s breaststroke, and burn the same amount of calories.
If you’re looking at losing weight in terms of burning the most calories, the butterfly stroke is the clear winner. This stroke can burn up to 774 calories per hour – which is more than any other swimming stroke. However, the butterfly is intensely difficult to perfect and requires so much more effort and energy, which the leisurely swimmer may not be able to provide. In fact, most people will be unable to swim butterfly consistently for an hour (we would last around 5 minutes). Because of this, few people will be able to burn the allotted calories by swimming the butterfly – which makes these findings slightly incorrect.
So which stroke is best to lose weight? In all honesty, the strokes are so different that they all have their benefits and the negatives. Many researchers have found that the best way to lose weight while swimming is to interchange your strokes each time you go swimming. Perhaps alternate between all four strokes every two lengths, and take advantage of all of their benefits.