While swimming laps is a great way to build and tone your muscles and get a vigorous cardio workout at the same time, there are many other fun and challenging aquatic exercises you can do in your pool that don’t involve laps. With the addition of a few dumbbells and floating devices, you can turn your pool into a world-class fitness center. And exercising in water reduces the stress and strain that dryland workouts put on your joints.
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 are you still benefitting from the pull of gravity, you are getting added resistance from the 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 that you cover the full range of motion and that the bar is in the water through the full range. 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 to the side, 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 calls on other muscle groups besides your abs. Start with five sets of 10. If the balancing aspect is too difficult initially, 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. Focus on smooth, continuous movements. Start with five sets of 10. Be sure you are using good posture throughout the exercise.
Shallow End Sprints
No device needed here. In water that is between hip and knee deep, 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 initially and grow the number of reps as your fitness improves. It’s a simple exercise, but you will be surprised at how effective (and how tiring!) it is. The faster you run, the more resistance you’ll face.
Beach Ball Roll
Clutching 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
If you want to burn calories and increase your strength and endurance while having fun, there’s nothing like an aquatic workout. And the exercises above are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll share more in the weeks and months ahead. You can also download our free Swimming Pool Workout Program.