What Do Swim Resistance Gloves Do? (Here’s what to know)

Swim resistance gloves are a lesser-known training aid typically made from neoprene. Although most swimmers choose swim paddles over swim resistance gloves, there are some significant benefits to using swim resistance gloves.

Swim resistance gloves typically have webbed fingers, allowing the swimmer to pull more water when swimming. This creates a higher level of resistance per stroke, giving a swimmer a greater upper body and arm workout.

Swim resistance gloves are a lot less popular than swim paddles, but they do have their place and function.

In this article I am going to look at:

  • Do resistance swim gloves work?
  • Swim Paddles Vs Resistance Swim Gloves: Which should I choose?
  • Do webbed gloves help you swim faster?
  • When should I use resistance swim gloves?
  • How tight should swim gloves be?

Do Resistance Swim Gloves Work?

Resistance swim gloves are a training aid designed for the pool.

Typically, they are open fingered like mittens or closed fingered and are usually made from neoprene, which is a classic wetsuit material.

Although their neoprene material will naturally keep your hands warmer, this is not their primary function. Their primary function is to create greater resistance for your arms as you pull through the water. This will work your arms and shoulder muscles.

Resistance swim gloves do work, as you will feel the extra resistance as you swim.

Sometimes the webbing is soft neoprene so you must keep your fingers open and stretched to feel the benefit and sometimes the webbing is rigid, which will hold your fingers apart.

The webbing between the fingers creates a greater surface area, so you are catching and pulling more water as you swim.

Swim Paddles Vs Resistance Swim Gloves: Which Should I Choose?

If you regularly swim, you may have seen other swimmers in the pool with plastic discs in their hands. These are called swim paddles and, similarly to resistance swim gloves, their function is to increase resistance as you swim to increase swimming strength, power and endurance.

Both swim paddles and resistance swim gloves have their pros and cons.

Typically, when comparing swim paddles and resistance swim gloves, you should consider the following key areas when deciding which to choose:

  • Swim technique
  • Strength building
  • Swim injury risk
  • Warmth

Which is better for swim technique?

It is widely accepted that swim paddles are better than swim gloves when it comes to improving swim technique.

Unlike resistance swim gloves, swim paddles are not forgiving when it comes to swimming technique. You must enter and exit your hand correctly when using swim paddles, otherwise, they will fall off and be miserable to swim with.

This is an advantage of swim paddles, as they will force you to think about how your hand enters and moves through the water.

Resistance swim gloves, on the other hand, can promote poor swim technique as it forces you to spread your fingers when swimming in order to stretch the webbing and create drag.

If you get into the habit of this, this could be a problem as you will slow down dramatically without the gloves on, as swimming with spread fingers is not efficient.

That said, the resistive swim gloves can give you a more natural feel for the water.

Swim paddles do not feel natural at all, whereas resistance swim gloves can allow you to experiment with hand and wrist positions in the water to feel the natural curve and pull of the water.

Which is better for strength building?

Swim paddles are better for strength and muscle building in the pool.

Because swim paddles are typically made from rigid plastic, they are unyielding when you pull through the water, creating maximum resistance.

Although many types of swim paddles exist with unique designs, they will all challenge your pull strength in the pool.

Although resistance swim gloves will also increase your strength, they will not create such a high level of resistance compared to the swim paddles.

Which is better for injury and over use?

Because swim paddles are made from rigid plastic and are very unforgiving, they can cause shoulder injury or aggravate old injuries if overused. Resistance swim gloves are a much better option in this instance.

If you are recovering from injury or want to keep your resistance training on the lighter side, resistance swim gloves are a much better option.

Alternatively, you could choose a very small swim paddle that pulls less water, similar to a resistance swim glove.

Which is better to keep my hands warm?

If you are a cold water pool swimmer and want a little extra warmth in your hands without committing to a full pair of standard swimming gloves, resistance swim gloves with a closed finger are worth considering.

Just like standard wetsuit gloves, resistance swim gloves are typically made from neoprene that will keep your hands on the warmer side.

Unlike standard wetsuit gloves, resistance swim gloves are usually much thinner. For lido or open-air swimming pools in the winter, they are thin enough so you can feel the water, yet they will take the edge off the biting cold.

Do Webbed Gloves Help You Swim Faster?

Webbed gloves help you swim faster as the webbing between the fingers create extra resistance and pull force as you swim.

However, once you remove your webbed gloves, you will return to your normal speed of swimming.

When Should I Use Resistance Swim Gloves?

To this day, the vast majority of swimmers will choose swim paddles over resistance swim gloves when training to increase speed, power, strength and endurance.

Personally, I would recommend starting with a small pair of swim paddles over swim gloves if you are interested in improving your swim technique and strength.

There are times, however, when resistance swim gloves are a great option, for example, if you are doing water aerobics or aqua fit exercises.

Doing exercises in the pool is great, and adding a pair of resistance swim gloves will increase the intensity of your workout.

You may even feel more confident in the water, as you will feel yourself swimming faster and being naturally more powerful because of the added webbing between your fingers.

When improving swim technique and building power is not your concern and you just want a comfortable way to gently increase strength and burn more calories, then using a pair of resistive swim gloves is a good option.

How Tight Should Swim Gloves Be?

When choosing the right size of swim gloves, be it resistance swim gloves or standard wetsuit gloves, it is important to get the fit right for optimum comfort and maximum performance.

As a general rule, ensure your swim glove feels very snug to tight when dry. As neoprene gets wet, it will expand and the glove will feel looser. It is better to be on the tighter side when dry so when the glove is wet it will not feel too loose and have excessive trapped water inside, making the glove feel heavy.

What Are Some Good Resistance Swim Gloves?

Below is a list of some of my favourite resistance swim gloves.

Speedo are a good and reliable brand to stick to for this product.

Speedo Unisex Swim Training Gloves Aquatic Fitness

  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable wrist
  • Flexible webbing
  • A range of sizes available
  • Excellent performance

Price Range: £25

[View on Amazon]

Aqua Sphere Unisex’s Aqua Fitness Swim Glove

  • Good resistance
  • Nice for aqua aerobics
  • A range of sizes

Price Range: £7-£25

[View on Amazon]

Speedo Unisex Adult Aqua Glove

  • Nice design
  • Give a great upper body workout
  • No adjustable wrist strap which is not great.
  • Affordable yet professional option.

Price Range: £10-£25

[View on Amazon]

Emma Moore

Hi, I am Emma, and I am obsessed with all watersports, from swimming to surfing and everything in between. I spend my free time in the water or preparing for my next water travel adventure.

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