HIIT Swim Workouts

HIIT swim workouts for beginners. Improve your strength, endurance, and speed with high intensity interval training (HIIT) swimming exercises

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HIIT swim workouts help you increase strength, endurance, and performance. There are so many ways to improve your fitness. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are the most effective. 

Ready to get in better shape with HIIT swimming? Read on to learn about the benefits of HIIT swimming workouts to boost your fitness level. Then, we’ll show you how to do a HIIT swimming workout with step by step instructions.  

What is a HIIT Swimming Workout?

What is high intensity interval training for swimming? A HIIT swimming workout comprises short bouts of high intensity exercise followed by lower intensity recovery periods. This involves a precise recipe of repetitive exercises that vary in quantity, quality, and intensity. 

Is swimming a HIIT workout? Swimming is an aerobic activity. However, it can be adapted for HIIT. [1] A HIIT swimming routine involves a combination of explosive effort, high intensity effort, and intensive long-term effort movements. 

For example, in swimming HIIT, you may swim at maximum effort for a certain distance or time. This is then followed by a period of slower, more relaxed swimming to recover before repeating the cycle. HIIT swimming workouts are great if you are short on time. They are probably the most time-efficient way to workout. [2]

HIIT Swim Workout Benefits

Over the years, scientists have evaluated the effectiveness of HIIT swimming routines. Researchers have proven that the right combination of exercises lead to more effective workouts. In fact, HIIT can produce health benefits that are similar to twice as much moderate-intensity exercise. [3]

1. Swimming HIIT Burns Calories Faster

You can burn more calories faster with HIIT swimming workouts. [4] Research found that HIIT may burn as much as 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise. A HIIT swimming workout routine allows you to burn the same number of calories while spending less time exercising.

2. Higher Metabolic Rate After Swimming HIIT Exercise

HIIT helps you burn more calories by increasing your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. It increases your metabolic rate even more than jogging or weight training. [5] A HIIT swimming workout shifts your body toward using fat for energy instead of carbs.

3. HIIT Improves Oxygen Consumption

If you are using HIIT swimming workouts to improve your swimming, you are likely looking to improve your VO₂, or maximum oxygen consumption. [6] A high VO₂ max means that your body will absorb more oxygen during swimming, which means better performance. While you may decide to also do hypoxic training to increase your VO₂, HIIT swimming has been proven to increase oxygen consumption in a short period of time. [7]

HIIT Swim Workouts Step by Step Instructions

How to do high intensity swimming? To begin, you just need to choose a proven HIIT swimming workout. Then, you can experiment with different durations of recovery and exercise. 

HIIT Swimming Routine Exercise #1: Freestyle

What it does: Freestyle, also known as front crawl, is a dynamic swimming stroke that engages your entire upper body, including your arms, shoulders, and core. [8] It helps increase core stability, cardiovascular fitness, and builds upper body strength.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by positioning your body face down in the water. Keep your arms extended in front of you.
  2. Kick your legs in a fluttering motion. At the same time, reach forward with one arm, then the other.
  3. As you pull one arm back, turn your head to the side to breathe. Alternate sides with each stroke.
  4. Keep your body streamlined and your movements fluid.
  5. Maintain a strong and rhythmic breathing pattern.

How many reps: Swim at maximum effort for 15-30 seconds.

HIIT Swimming Routine Exercise #2: Breaststroke

What it does: The breaststroke targets your chest, shoulders, upper back, and legs. [9] It engages the core which helps you to maintain proper body alignment while in the water. It also targets the quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles. It helps to improve flexibility, upper body and leg strength, and endurance. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with your body face down in the water, arms extended in front of you.
  2. Simultaneously pull your arms back toward your chest. Bend your knees and bringing your heels toward your glutes.
  3. Kick your legs outwards. Then, bring them back together while extending your arms forward again.
  4. Take a breath by lifting your head out of the water during the arm extension phase.
  5. Keep your movements coordinated and rhythmic.

How many reps: Swim at about 70% effort for 15-30 seconds.

HIIT Swimming Routine Step #3: Rest

What it does: Resting between each set is crucial for recovery and maintaining the intensity throughout the workout. It also helps to clear the lactic acid that builds up (the cause of that workout burning sensation). [10

Here’s how to do it:

Take a rest of 60-90 seconds between each set of freestyle and breaststroke.

How many reps: Complete this cycle of Freestyle, Breaststroke, and Rest for a total of 20-30 minutes.

Whether you do the freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, or other stroke, try to push yourself so that your workout will be equally effective every time. How many high intensity rounds you can do depends on your cardiovascular endurance. For best results, use a heart rate monitor or fitness wearable to track your performance.

HIIT Swimming Workouts FAQs

Need answers to your most common questions about HIIT swim workouts? Here are the most frequently asked questions about swimming HIIT workout for beginners.

Is it important to stretch before HIIT swim workouts? 

Is it OK to stretch before HIIT swim workouts? Stretching before your HIIT swimming workouts will loosen up your muscles. This allows for increased flexibility and range of motion while working out. Injuries can occur fairly easily during swimming. Stretching before a swimming pool HIIT workout can help decrease the possibility of an injury happening.

What are the risks of HIIT swim workouts? 

Keep in mind that high-intensity exercise is not suitable for everyone. 

Before you start any swimming workout, consult your doctor first. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, HIIT workouts may not be safe for you.

In order to take part in HIIT swim workouts, you should already have a basic level of swimming and fitness. There is a higher risk of injury from swimming HIIT workouts. Too much intensity can make you dizzy, make your muscles sore, and exacerbate existing injuries. Too much HIIT swimming can even lead to burnout and demotivation.

As you workout, take care and pay attention to how your body feels. Wear the right clothing and swimming equipment. Make sure to avoid swimming alone and be visible. No matter your fitness level, you should never swim alone.

What equipment do I need for HIIT swim workouts?

The essential swim equipment you need for swim HIIT workouts are swimming goggles, a swim cap, a training suit, and ear plugs. Wearing swim goggles in the pool will ensure that you can safely navigate around the pool and other swimmers. 

A swim cap keeps your hair out of your face as you swim and protects it against the corrosive pool chemicals. A training suit reduces the impact of the weight of your clothing as you swim. Earplugs help avoid getting water in the ear canals, which can cause an infection. 

How long does a HIIT workout need to be effective? 

How to turn 30 minutes at the swimming pool into an effective workout? Keep in mind that the total duration of your HIIT workout should be 20 to 30 minutes. To maximize your efforts, focus on your form and posture. Your work intervals should be 85-95% of your maximum effort. 

How many times a week should you do a HIIT swimming workout?

Doing a swimming HIIT workout for beginners once a week is a great place to start. You can increase the number of workouts per week as your fitness level increases.

Performance Nutrition for HIIT Swim Workouts

Take your HIIT swim workouts further with proper nutrition. To improve your performance, endurance, and recovery time, you need nutrients to help your body. Bridge the gap between a healthy diet and exercise to build more muscle and enhance your training. 

Satia is a plant-based, clean nutrient formula that gives your body everything it needs for better workout performance. Start your no-risk Satia trial today.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6069078/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27368057/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25162652/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27747847/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836566/
  6. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/6/494
  7. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/19665
  8. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/249336508.pdf
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27434086/
  10. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0095025

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