Water exercise may have the reputation of being a “seniors only” form of fitness, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because of the nature of movement in the water, there is a place in the pool (or lake or ocean) for every population, from the elite athlete to the deconditioned beginner.
Here are a handful of reasons why a wet workout could benefit you:
- Support and buoyancy. Depending on the water depth, buoyancy lightens your apparent weight ー or load on your joints ー up to 90% (as compared to dry land). For those who experience joint pain or want a lower impact workout, the water is the perfect place to go.
- Added resistance. Conversely, water can also make exercises harder. Imagine having thousands of little weights attached all over your body, working against you with every movement you make. Depending on the velocity of the action, exercises can have a much greater level of resistance in water versus on land.
- Flexibility and range of motion. Water workouts can allow for safer, more comfortable and pain-free ranges of motion because of the lower load on the joints and water massaging the body tissues.
- Calorie- and fat-burn. When the pain of movement is taken away, many populations can exercise exponentially harder in the water than they can on land. This helps to burn more calories and achieves a healthier energy balance to lose fat.
- Cool, comfortable and fun! The water has a cooling effect on your body which can make exercise significantly more comfortable. Not only does research point to the fact that water fitness leads to feelings of well-being, but you can also experience the corners of your mouth turning up as you splash, jump and move through the pool with unique and fun exercises.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Stay cool and fit this summer with this water workout from @myfitnesspal!
These exercises can be done individually as you see fit, but we recommend putting them together into an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) workout. Perform 10 reps of each move for as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes. Write down how many rounds you complete and try to beat that number the next time you do this workout.
Tuck jumps are a heart-pounding exercise for all levels of fitness that engage many of the muscles on the front side of your body, including your quads and abdominals.
How to do it: Stand tall with your arms in the water, jump both feet off the ground and pull your knees into your chest. Then, quickly extend the legs and land back on the ground, absorbing impact at your hips, knees and ankles.
Level up: Try this movement with your arms overhead and out of the water.
Level down: Lower your shoulders into slightly deeper water. Remove the jump and focus on pulling your knees up and down while staying afloat.
This move takes advantage of water resistance for a 360-degree activation of your core.
How to do it: Stand tall in the water with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms straight out in front of your body with your palms pressed together. While keeping your arms straight and your shoulders back and down, rotate your upper body 90 degrees to the right and then 180 degrees to the left.
Level up: Pick up the pace! The faster you move, the more water resistance you will be working against.
Level down: Slightly bend your elbows for a shorter lever arm.
No need for snow or expensive equipment to gain the benefits of this movement pattern!
How to do it: Begin in a split stance with your left leg in front and right leg behind, and your right arm stretched out in front of you and left arm reaching behind. Actively drive your arms and legs through the water to switch their positioning, so your left leg and right arm is behind you, and your right leg and left arm is in front. Continue to switch with opposing arms and legs in the lead.
Level up: Add a jump in the middle of the movement as your arms and legs pass the centerline of your body.
Level down: Rather than jumping to switch positions, simply step and reach opposing arms and legs.
On land, this exercise can be very challenging even for the experienced athlete. With the support of the water, the single-leg squat emphasizes balance, coordination, unilateral strength and proper squat patterns for all levels of fitness.
How to do it: Stand on your right leg with your left leg extended out in front. Press the hips down and back, sinking as low as possible based on mobility and water depth. Keep your right knee aligned over the middle right toes and press back up to a stand and repeat. Perform repetitions on both legs.
Level up: Try these in shallower water to reduce buoyancy and allow for a lower squat.
Level down: Limit the range of motion or place the opposite heel on the ground in front of you to further reduce load.
The water resistance reduces the impact, but greatly increases the work for your arms and legs as they move.
How to do it: Begin in a wide stance with your arms extended like airplane wings just below the surface of the water. Simultaneously jump your feet together and pull both arms down to your sides. Rapidly return to the starting position and repeat.
Level up: Turn these regular jacks into power jacks by starting in the same position, but jump up out of the water and pull your legs together and arms by your sides as you’re in the air. Land in the starting position and repeat.
Level down: To further reduce impact, tap one heel at a time out to the sides as your arms move up and down by your sides.
For more fitness inspiration, check out “Workout Routines” in the app to discover and log a wide variety of routines by performance specialists. Or build your own routine with exercises that fit your goals.