Which is the best swimming stroke to be used for a cardio workout?

Question by Andrés M: Which is the best swimming stroke to be used for a cardio workout?
I’ve been going to the gym for ages now, joggin’ and stuff, but I’ve decided to take a turn and go swimming since it works all of your muscles. Which swimming stroke(s) are best for a full fledged cardio work out?

Best answer:

Answer by dankohner1
I would say freestyle.

What do you think? Answer below!

5 Comments
  1. Reply
    Billy May 18, 2013 at 1:32 am

    I wouldn’t limit it to just one stroke. They will all give you an awesome cardio workout, the one that you do the best will give you the best workout. Try doing IM’s (Individual medley, Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle) at first, and then work from there. If you feel like you got hit by a bus after an 800 IM, you are doing it right.

  2. Reply
    academicjoq May 18, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Crawl, or freestyle, is exceptional. However, studies show that backstroke burns more calories than any other stroke. Butterfly tires you out the most but, that is due to lactic acid build up from the start stop aspect of the stroke.

    Most people, however, burn more calories and get in better shape running (and I’m a swim coach). This is due to the difficulty and fatigue involved in swimming. Most people cannot workout with an intensity and for a duration high and long enough to get in good enough shape to end up burning mega calories.

    Michael Phelps eats 10,000 to 12,000 calories per day. But, he works out like a MAD MAN (and goes 7 days/week). When I swam in college, we ate 6,000 to 7,000 calories per day (almost 40 years ago) and we swam 8 to 10 miles per day.

    So, consider those things.

  3. Reply
    vira May 18, 2013 at 2:58 am

    All of them are great, and here’s my view of each:
    1) Freestyle – the most efficient of the four. The pulling of the arms for each stroke is equal to lifting a light weight, and the constant kicking of the legs is great for toning the legs.
    2) Breastroke – easiest but slow at burning calories. This stroke assists in streamlining your body and is very different to the other strokes. I wouldn’t recommend this stroke if you are aiming to lose weight.
    3) Backstroke – of course, quite efficient, and burns calories equivalent to freestyle if swam well. That’s the problem. Not many people can swim it properly (and tend to strain their neck which causes neck pains in the long run) so they are better off sticking to good ol’ freestyle.
    4) Butterfly – Ah. This one is the best for a workout, and requires great strength. It really works the abs and arms. This stroke is the hardest of the four to get right, so again, if you are just starting out swimming, you may have the wrong “swimming style” and that would affect the ‘calorie-burning’. By the end of the 50m when swimming this, I usually resemble a drowning chicken because its so tiring, and I’m pretty darn fit.

    It’s a good thing you are chosing swimming, since swimming is one of the only 3 sports which can workout the full body. I’m am/was a competitive swimmer, and boy, what a body I have. .. had.

  4. Reply
    I Ching, Yang Ching=ding-a-ling May 18, 2013 at 3:15 am

    What I use in the pool when doing my workouts is a very slow crawl, which consists of keeping just my head and nose out of the water and the rest of my body submerged, and slowly moving through the water without breaking a single ripple on the surface of the water. This takes a lot of muscle control to remain afloat but not exposing any more of my body above the water than the head and my nose.

    I also take this process one step further and wear ankle weights filled with sand and leg weights also filled with sand as doing this builds up my lower areas of my body by moving my body ever so slowly through the water, again, never breaking a ripple on the surface. I then add a backpack filled with wet sand and continue to do this very slow crawl through the water remaining in the deep end of the pool and will do this exercise for three hours before taking a break. Its almost like doing isometrics in slow motion in the water, using the resistance of the water against my self and forcing my body to move through the water in a fluid and easy motion. Its sort of difficult for me to properly explain this process, could do it a lot better if you were to see it, then you could understand exactly how such an exercise can help to build up the body so well.

  5. Reply
    michelle k May 18, 2013 at 3:28 am

    A full cardio workout should get your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes. This time frame only starts when your heart rate has reached at least 120 bpm. That means, your warming up does not count. It has not make your heart work yet for it to consider it cardio.

    The best stroke to swim for this reason would be the Frontcrawl. This is because it gets your heart pumping within a shorter time compared to breaststroke ( where many people just do it leisurely which is not beneficial to the heart or the muscles at all. Beats me why they even bother swimming )

    I would suggest you swim a few laps of the crawl and check your heart rate. ( Take 6 or 10 secs rate is enough and multiply it ) Once you get about 12 – 14 beats for 6 secs. you should continue swimming for at least half an hour to an hour from that time to get the best of the cardio workout. if you are feeling too tired, check your heart rate, don let it get too high. ( i donno how old you are and what your health level is like to gauge you ) But within 18 beats per 6 secs you are still doing good.

    Good luck and have fun working out.

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