The Best Summer Cardio Workout You’re Not Doing…Yet!

Summer’s HERE and it’s gettin’ HOT! 🔥 🔥  When the weather’s warm, I love to hop in the pool for a swim workout. I first started swimming in high school when I did a brief run on the swim team for one season. After that I didn’t pick it back up again until years later when I started competing in triathlons. At first, it was the most intimidating part of the sport. Now I love it!

I like to mix up my cardio and swimming is the perfect way to do that. Water is dense and it takes a lot of resistance to push through, so swimming is an amazing total body toning workout, too. It’s also a form of meditation for me. I count my breaths and just enjoy the silence and tranquility of the water. 

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite swim workouts ~ plus all the amazing benefits of the sport. If you’re new to swimming, no worries! We have tons of tips for getting started and this workout is for everyone, whether you’re a newbie or have Katie Ledecky skills!

Now let’s make a splash! 💦



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Check out swimming’s amazing perks…

Tone your total bod

Swimming is perfect for total body toning and low impact cardio. Water is about 800 times denser than air, so swimming puts your muscles under constant resistance while being a lot easier on your joints than running. It’s a great option if you’re recovering from an injury or need to give your knees a little break. Bonus: swimming tones those tricky muscle groups like lats, deltoids, and traps.

Get the ultimate endurance workout

Trying to amp up your Sunday Runday? By getting your heart rate up in the water, you’re pushing your lungs to work at their full capacity and use oxygen more efficiently. The stronger your lungs become, the lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure will be, so you’ll notice a boost in your endurance that you’re going to love. This means you’ll power through your Booty Calls with more strength and your heart rate will return to normal more quickly.

Dive into the fountain of youth

You can keep your heart, brain, and nervous system young by splashin’ around! A study¹ shows that people who swam regularly had much healthier muscular, heart, and lung function than average. 

Boost your brain power

 The Journal of Physiology found that blood flow to the brain was boosted by 14% when you’re under water²You know the feeling when your mind is clear and your focus is on point? That’s exactly what swimming does for you! 

New to swimming? Here are our top tips to dive in!

 When you begin incorporating swimming into your routine, you’ll notice your whole body start to feel stronger — that’s what makes it such an amazing workout. Check the tips below and get workin’ in the pool!

Grab your gear

Lots of pro swimmers use earplugs — don’t be afraid to try them if you feel like water is getting into your swim cap. Yes, your cap!! You can rock it and it will save your hair from the chlorine. You won’t have to worry about dryness or discoloration in your locks, plus it makes for a great selfie when you’re checking in! 😉  And don’t forget your goggles! They actually make a huge difference in the way you swim and your ability to work out harder. 
K&K Swim Selfie

Start strong and simple…and don’t forget to breathe!

Go at your own pace. Start with just 10 – 15 minutes and build up from there. Freestyle is the most natural stroke, so your body will get into the rhythm of it the fastest. The tricky part can be mastering the breathing, but we’ve got a tip for that too! Just like any other workout, breathing is one of the most important aspects of powering through your laps with strength and control. Make sure you’re exhaling into the water. When you turn your head, take a big deep breath. Once you find the rhythm of your breath, you’ll feel so powerful. 

Get the technique down

When your hands enter the water, keep your palms flat and your fingers pointing down. Your arms and hands should pull straight back — try not to cross the midline of your center. This simple tip will help you maximize your strokes and sculpt those sexy shoulders. Focusing on where you’re going in the pool is another simple way to get the best results. Pro-swim tip: Follow the black line on the bottom of the pool to keep yourself swimming straight.

Grab a girlfriend

Everything is better with a gal pal by your side…especially trying something new! ;)

Refuel…the delicious way!

Swimming is a calorie blaster and it works your whole body, so it’s super important to replenish your muscles with protein. Fuel up with the a Tone It Up Protein smoothie! The Tropical Paradise Smoothie is perf poolside!

Make sure to check in with us on Insta after doing your new swim workout! We wanna see those swim caps and goggles 😎


1. SWIMMING IN THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. Indiana University News Room.


Strong and sexy muscles are made by your Tone It Up workouts and REVEALED with your Tone It Up Nutrition Plan! As a member, you’ll automatically receive thousands of delicious, slimming recipes! Plus, EVERY edition of the plan!



  1. Love this! Thank you! I’ve always been a big swimmer over other forms of cardio and with a triathlon coming up this is perfect 💜

  2. OMG! Where did you find that long-sleeve onepiece? I’ve been searching for one to buy in my goal size as extra motivation for myself.

  3. I only learnt to swim last year at 47! I’d always been scared to do it before but one afternoon I decided to buy a swimsuit and just go for it, I had lessons and can’t begin to describe the absolute joy I felt at swimming a whole length of the pool for the first time in my life.

  4. Agreed, swimming is an awesome way to switch up your cardio! Until training for my first tri, I didn’t realize what a difference goggles and focusing on the lines at the bottom of the pool make to increasing efficiency. Can’t wait to try the workout 🙌🏻 😎

  5. Thanks for the workout! I’ve been on the fence about starting swimming again but this helps so much! 💕💕

  6. Swimming is so great!!! But girls… You’ve *GOT* to try something called “mermaiding,” or swimming with a monofin… it is SUCH an awesome workout and so cruel to your abs! ♥

    While I use my silicone mermaid tail when I swim, you for sure don’t have to go that route for the exercise benefits (I’m a professional mermaid… which is certainly equal parts sweat and exhaustion as it is fun and magical! XD). You can get a FINIS Rapid or FINIS Competitor monofin (which is what is built into my tail) off of Amazon for pretty cheap. Seriously… that dolphin-kick motion is such an ab shredder and makes for a great cardio session. You’ve got to try mermaiding/ monofin swimming. Ugh. ♥

    Sorry… I took my tail out for a swim the other day and was so exhausted afterwords. When I saw this post, I had to share my experience with my fellow Beach Babes. ;D

    Thanks for the post and the inspiration to ramble, K & K! ♥

    XOXO- Mermaid Phantom

    (P.S.) Karena… your one-piece swim outfit at the top of this post… TOTALLY gorgeous!

  7. Is there anything you put on your hair before and after?? I am worried about the chlorine messing up my dye job even with a swim cap on.

    1. use some type of conditioner before getting in the water and rinse with cold regular water and then make sure to wear a swim cap and as soon as you get out of the pool wash your hair to get the chlorine or the salt water out of your hair with shampoo and conditioner, that should help :)

  8. Hi Karena! I am so interested in doing a triathlon after reading this post! Do you have any tips on training? Would love to hear your thoughts for a beginner :)

    1. Hi babe! Perfect timing ~ we actually have a post on race training tips coming out very soon! Keep a lookout! Training for a triathlon is so rewarding. You’re going to feel amazing! xxo Karena

  9. Oh goodness, you have NO IDEA how happy this post makes me! Last month I faced my fear of sinking and learnt how to swim how to swim. All thanks to the Bikini Series! This helpful advice you shared today adds to my training significantly. Thank you 😊. Can’t wait to apply it to the next time I’m in water –tomorrow with my niece! Xx
    Ps, my training improved my 2nd day of training when I purchased goggles. I only need to invest in a cap now!

  10. Love this swimming cardio workout! I tried it this morning for my cardio and felt amazin.! I don’t usually do sprints when I swim so that really got my body pumping!

  11. Its been so hot in So Cal I have been getting in the pool so much. Thank you for this. How long do you think this workout should take at an average speed?

    1. Hi, I used to be a competitive swimmer and I would suggest these brands: speedo goggles are the best and last forever!!! swim caps the latex ones do not last and rip out your hair so i would suggest a silcone cap. As for the swim suits i would go with speedo, tyr, or nike (look at they have amazing deals :) I hope this helps, most swim gear is really good and last pretty well it all is just in how long you are wanting the gear to last :) (also never ever put a swim suit in the dryer it causes it to stretch always hand wash or rinse and hang dry).

  12. I use my big reef step for most of the 5 daily moves like planks, hip dips, swivel, plank jacks and many more!! It’s a fun way to fit it all in while playing with the kids!!

  13. love this. have been needing to get back into swimming, and this motivated me to do so. would definitely love more swimming W.O.’s ! :) also love the clip of Karena popping out of the water at the camera, too cute! any recommendations on a two piece for recreational swimming? <3

  14. I LOVE this! How many times should we go through this workout for days or should we do it until we hit 30 minutes of cardio?! Can’t wait to do this today!

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