What Pool Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

What Pool Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

Swim spas are great for exercising in a small space. The adjustable current allows swimmers to choose their ideal pace while the shallow water allows for other types of non-swimming exercises to be performed as well. For those who are looking to lose weight, having access to a swim spa can be a terrific motivator. But what pool exercise burns the most calories? There are several different swimming strokes and a plethora of other types of water exercises that can raise the heart rate and produce a sweat, but if you’re looking to drop weight as fast as possible, what should you concentrate on? In this article, we’ll go over the most common swimming strokes and compare them with other exercises to determine the best way to burn calories.

Jogging Comparison

Because jogging is such a popular form of exercise, we’re going to use it as the baseline for calorie burning from which we can compare swimming strokes and other exercises done in the water. Whether done outdoors or on a treadmill, a half-hour of jogging at a steady speed of eight kilometers per hour (a pace that would allow you to complete 400 metres, or one lap around a standard track, in 3 minutes) would burn about 300 calories for a person with a weight of 155 pounds.


As the slowest competitive swimming stroke, it’s safe to assume that the breaststroke burns the fewest calories of the bunch. However, possibly because of the importance of the leg motions in helping to propel the swimmer, the breaststroke is one of the best for a strenuous cardiovascular workout. It’s also good for toning the muscles of the thighs, back, chest and triceps. Performing the breaststroke for a half-hour can burn around 200 calories.


The backstroke can be one of the more challenging swimming strokes to learn, but it’s great for stretching out the spine and helping to develop a good posture while increasing the flexibility of the hips. The backstroke helps tone muscles in the stomach, buttocks, legs, arms and shoulders. A 30-minute workout concentrating on the backstroke will expend about 250 calories.

Front Crawl

The front crawl (known competitively as freestyle) is the classic stroke that everyone envisions when they think about swimming. And although it’s the fastest swimming stroke it doesn’t burn the most calories. That said, it’s great for strengthening the muscles in your back, stomach, buttocks, arms and shoulders. A half-hour workout performing the front crawl will use up about 300 calories.


The butterfly is the most complex swimming stroke and takes a lot of strength to perform properly. For that reason, it burns the most calories of all four competitive swimming strokes. It gives the entire body a great workout with the chest, shoulders, triceps and back muscles receiving the most benefit. If you can perform the butterfly for 30 minutes you can expect to burn about 450 calories.

Water Jogging

Despite what the name suggests, this does not mean walking on water. But if you’re counting calories, this is a miracle exercise. By using the resistance created by water as well as the current created by the swim spa, jogging in water actually burns more calories than any of the major swimming strokes. You can actually burn over 500 calories in a half-hour. You wouldn’t be the first person to be surprised that the water exercise that burns the most calories isn’t even a swimming stroke!