Swimming laps is a great way to build and tone your muscles for a vigorous cardio workout, but there are many other fun and challenging aquatic exercises you can do in your pool that don’t involve laps. Exercising in water can reduce the stress and strain dryland workouts can put on your joints. With the addition of a few dumbbells and floating devices, turn your pool into a world-class fitness center.
Whether you perform these exercises in addition to or instead of lap swimming, they will do wonders for your fitness level.
Barbell Bicep Curls
Although you are more buoyant in the water, barbells are not. Consequently, when you use them in the pool, not only will you benefit from the pull of gravity, but you will also get added resistance from water.
In shoulder-deep water, set your feet shoulder width apart, hold the bar with your palms up and move it from your chest down to your thighs and back up. As you do, be sure to cover the full range of motion while the bar is in the water. Use a barbell that challenges you but doesn’t produce excessive strain. Do five sets of 10 repetitions initially and build from there.
Pool Noodle Floating Crunch
With your arms out wide, parallel to the bottom of the pool and resting on a pool noodle, pull your knees up to your chest and then return to the starting position. Crunches are a great part of a dryland workout, and in the water, the need to stabilize your body adds an element that works more muscle groups besides your abs. Start with 5 sets of 10 and if balancing is too difficult, do your crunches using the side of the pool (rather than the noodle) for support.
Holding two dumbbells or kettlebells, stand in shoulder-deep water with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise the weights from your side up to shoulder height and then return to the starting position. Repeat and focus on smooth, continuous movements. Start with 5 sets of 10 and be sure to use good posture throughout the exercise for optimal results.
Shallow End Sprints
No device needed here. Stand in water that is between hip and knee deep and run as fast as you can in one direction for 10 to 15 feet. Quickly turn 180 degrees and run back to your starting point against the current you just created. Repeat 10 times and grow the number of reps as your fitness improves. It’s a simple exercise, but sprinting in water is an effective (and tiring!) cardio workout that reduces stress on your joints. The faster you run, the more resistance you’ll face.
Beach Ball Roll
Clutch a beach ball (or similar floating ball) to your chest with your face in the water and your body extended in a line parallel to the bottom of the pool. Rotate a full 360 degrees as if rolling over in bed and return to the starting position. Rotate five times in one direction and five times in the other to start. Be sure to exhale through your nose as you roll to keep from taking on water.
You’ll Love Your Water Workouts
Whether you perform these exercises in addition to (or instead of) swimming laps, these exercises will do wonders for your body, joints and your fitness level. If you want to burn calories and increase your strength and endurance while having fun, there’s nothing like an aquatic workout. Make sure to consult with your doctor before engaging in any aquatic exercise. And as always, be sure to swim safely.
Editor’s note: Originally published 6/2016