Swimming But Weight Loss Is Too Slow

I swim 5 days a week--front crawl, kickboard and backstroke equalling a mile. I enjoy swimming but weight loss is too slow. I'm trying to lose weight and because of my age (63) and current weight(226) have found it very slow going. I've lost 38 lbs in 7 months which for me is very slow and very discouraging. The last time (9 years ago) after a knee replacement I got into the pool, swam a mile a day and lost 60 lbs. in 5 months. I got my flat butt back, my waist, etc. Not so this time. Am I wasting my time swimming these strokes and doing it for a mile? This past week I have done the mile and then 5 minutes of bicycle, then 100 lunges plus2 sets of 12 kicks straight out to the side while holding the edge of the pool (for glutes). Should I switch to half a mile for a warm up then do these exercises or continue the whole mile and then exercises. It takes me 50 minutes to do the mile in a 25 meter pool. I need to do something to increase my weight loss because I'm becoming discouraged and will not continue if I don't see better results. After all these years of yo-yoing I want to finally get to a normal weight and fitness level. I've finally realized that is not going to be 135 lbs. but I want to get down to at least 185 lbs and be able to maintain it without a grinding routine. I am not tired after this workout, yet I cannot seem to make myself swim any faster. I tried the workout room when I first began and am just unable to bear the sweating that comes along with the elliptical trainer although I can at least have an estimate of my calorie loss with that. At my age, not sweating and hurting are my prime goals. I do have arthritis and fibromyalgia (taking meds for both)and swimming has made the pain easier. I know this is a lot of info to absorb but I need help to do the "right" things to increase my weight loss. Any suggestions of exercises to help regain my waist. I just found some that target my glutes and will continue those for a month to see if they do any good. Thanks for your help. We live in "Hooterville" and have little access to professional help.


First and foremost you are losing weight. It is not as rapid a weight loss as 9 years ago but you are losing weight at nearly 1.5 lbs per week, which is a safe and sensible rate to lose weight. However there is no reason why you cannot accelerate it slightly.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to weight loss is that they get stuck in the same routine, and I think this is what has happened to you. Just because certain exercises or a certain routine worked before does not mean it will continue to work and give the same results. A lot can change in the human body in 9 years!

Your swimming routine is long and varied which is usually effective but as you stated you do not feel tired after your workout and this tells me that this routine is no longer a challenge for you. It’s time to change it.

Front crawl and backstroke are the kindest strokes on your joints so they will be safe for your arthritis and fibromyalgia. Stick with those swimming strokes but you absolutely must take yourself out of your comfort zone. This is key and is the most important point that most people fail to do.

You mentioned that you are not able to swim faster but I presume you are referring to your overall 1 mile workout.

After you have warmed up swim one length of the pool as hard and fast as you possibly can. Absolute flat out maximum speed, the fastest you have ever swum in your life, just for one length. Obviously you will feel exhausted, so then swim 2 or 3 lengths at a slower speed to recover, but keep swimming. No stopping for a break.

Repeat the fast length again followed by the slow lengths and see if you can keep this up for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t be put off if you can only manage it a few times; just adjust the routine slightly so that you can keep going. More slow lengths and less frequent maximum speed lengths so that you can keep swimming for about 30 minutes. You can change it as you become fitter and your stamina increases.

This shorter routine will take you well and truly out of your comfort zone. This is called ‘interval training’ and you can apply any swimming stroke or exercise such as kicking with a kickboard to this type of training.

The net result is that you have a better quality workout in a shorter space of time and that workout is more effective in terms of improvements in fitness. Increases in stamina and fitness go hand in hand with increases in calories burned and decreases in body fat percentage.

As your body becomes used to the routine, usually after a few weeks, then change it again. Maybe swim 2 lengths at speed and 1 length slow. Maybe alternate fast and slow lengths. The point is to challenge your body so that it does not get used to the same old routine.

Try this type of routine once or twice a week and add a longer distance swim at a constant steady pace a couple of times per week. There is no need to go mad every time you swim.

As for targeting specific areas of your body, there are no specific exercises for reducing fat in certain areas of the body. Body fat percentage is both gained and reduced all over your body at once and your swimming sessions will take care of it, as long as they are challenging.

It goes without saying that weight loss is best achieved with a combination of exercise and careful eating. Reduced portion sizes and cut out the junk food; but you don’t need me to tell you that!

Sustained weight loss comes with exercise and careful diet being part of your lifestyle and not just for a short quick fix. Make it a habit and it will become less of a chore.

I hope you find this information helpful and I wish you every success with your swimming and your weight loss.

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