Water might be the finest exercise equipment you aren’t presently doing when it comes to gaining lean muscle, burning fat, and achieving your fitness objectives.
And no, we’re not just talking about swimming. You can also create your own water-based resistance exercises or enroll in water-based fitness classes like aqua cycling and aqua yoga. Dan Daly, CSCS, a competitive swimmer located in New York City and performance coach of elite and professional level athletes, claims that they are not just for older people and injury rehabilitation.
All athletes and exercise aficionados, in my opinion, may profit from cross-training in the water, adds Daly.
Why Working Out in the Water is Beneficial to You
Exercises performed in a pool can have the same positive effects on one’s health as other forms of exercise: calorie burning, muscular building, enhanced cardiovascular health, and improved mental equilibrium. However, they also have several special advantages, most of which result from two facts:
Water Causes Weight Loss
According to a study, movements you do in the water are less demanding on your joints and bones since the water lessens the weight of your body. According to Todd Sinett, a chiropractor in New York City and the author of Sit-Ups Are Stupid & Crunches Are Crap, pool workouts are the best for developing muscles because they avoid the strain that running and other weight-bearing activities can have on the knees, ankles, and other joints.
Pool exercises are a fantastic choice for patients with aches and pains brought on by injuries or chronic disorders that affect the joints, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, according to Dr. Sinett. This is because pool activities put less strain on the joints and bones. Because we tend to become stiffer and lose our flexibility as we get older, he adds, “Aquatic exercise is also quite beneficial for the elderly.” Everyone benefits from exercising in a less strenuous atmosphere, but seniors benefit the most because their bodily aches and pains may not be as forgiving.
Water Offers Continuous Resistance
Daly claims that because water is 800 times denser than air horizontally, it offers special multidirectional resistance. This means that while you move forward through water, your body is battling the resistance of the water all around you in all directions. (This explains why taking a few steps in a pool vs on dry land requires so much more effort and time.) According to Daly, this poses special challenges for your muscles since it makes them work harder to overcome the added resistance of the water.
Nevertheless, Sinett notes that it’s crucial to carry out pool workouts in a manner that is appropriate for your swimming talents, regardless of how useful they are. For instance, it’s important to practice your water exercises in a small pool or with the aid of a float if you are unable to swim for long periods of time.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to see your doctor before attempting this sort of training if you have any health issues or chronic conditions that could make it difficult for you to safely exercise (or exercise safely in water).
7 Exercises in a Pool to Burn Fat
To help you reach your fitness goals, Daly advises doing these pool activities that don’t need swimming but may burn a ton of calories. According to Daly, performing these multijoint, multi-muscle resistance workouts can help you burn fat by increasing your muscle mass.
Large, compound movement patterns are prioritized during these exercises in order to increase heart rate and simultaneously work a variety of different muscles. Daly suggests starting by performing each of the seven exercises in a circuit fashion for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. Between rounds, give yourself a two-minute break. Work your way up to eight rounds gradually, starting with two.
As you get fitter, up the frequency, length, and intensity of your workouts.
As an ideal low-impact conditioning program for days between other lifting and aerobic workouts (which should be completed two to three times a week, per recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine), Daly suggests practicing the workout twice per week. There is no minimum frequency required to reap the benefits of these workouts, and as long as you account for rest days (which will encourage appropriate recovery by giving your muscles time to mend), you won’t go overboard.
Although they are optional, water shoes are not usually necessary when exercising in a pool, according to Daly. Additionally, water shoes will create drag and make the exercises harder for the ones that involve moving your feet (such as jogging and side shuffling).
Running from one edge to the other while remaining in the shallow end of the pool is advised since the deeper the water, the more drag or resistance you’ll feel acting against your movement. To go forward, you’ll need to lean forward from your ankles while pumping your arms and bringing your legs up to a high-knee posture.
Holding a weighted object at breast level will enhance the downward resistance, and holding a kickboard in front of you with your arms fully extended will increase the forward resistance. Ankle weights made specifically for swimming pools and swim parachutes, which are pieces of fabric you fasten around your waist to produce drag as you travel through the water, can also up the ante.
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2. Push-ups on the pool edge
Brace your core, shift your weight into your upper body so that your toes lift off the pool bottom, and place your hands slightly over shoulder-width apart on the edge of the pool. Then, raise your torso out of the water until your arms are completely extended. Take a moment, then slowly bring your body back to the starting position.
Use your legs to jump off the bottom if you feel that this is too difficult for your chest, shoulders, or triceps, or if you are unable to complete many repetitions with good form. This will support your lower body. This, according to Daly, can also help to make it a full-body exercise.
3. Jumping Squats
With your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned-out toes, take a position at the shallow end of the pool. The best way to jump into the air is to squat down by sitting back into your hips and heels with flat feet, then straighten your hips, knees, and ankles to drive into the balls of your feet. The water should be shallow enough so that when you squat, your head won’t go under. Immediately after landing on the balls of your feet, squat once more and repeat. You can crouch down so low that you can submerge your head in the water if that is comfortable for you.
Move more quickly to make the exercise harder. You’ll have to perform more repetitions in the same amount of time because there will be more resistance.
4. Swaying to the Side
Side-shuffle from one pool edge to the other while standing in the shallow end. Keep your toes pointed in front of you and your core engaged.
Hold your hands out to the sides or use a tiny resistance band that has been certified for use in swimming pools to heighten the burn.
5. Avulsion Scissor Kick
Start in a pool of water that is deep enough so that your feet are off the ground. Lift your legs so your body is horizontal while holding onto the edge of the pool or a flotation device. Maintain neutral spinal alignment from the back of your head to your tailbone. Kick from your hip (as if you were kicking a soccer ball), keep your knee relaxed, and whip or flick out through your toes. Repeat with the opposite leg. To increase the resistance (and the workout! ), kick harder and move your legs faster; you should be making white splashes on the water’s surface.
As you kick, pay attention to maintaining a straight line from the back of your head to your tailbone. Your body’s largest muscles, the glutes, will work harder as a result.
To increase the difficulty, you can also wrap a resistance band over your legs.
6. Push the Row
Starting from a standing position, stoop down until your chest is in the water while gripping a kickboard against your torso. Extend your arms and the kickboard forward into the water while bracing your core, then quickly pull your arms and the kickboard back toward your chest. You should be able to feel your back muscles contracting.
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Stand in the pool with your feet together, arms down at your sides, and your head above water (in as deep of water as you feel comfortable). hop your feet back together and spread your legs out to the sides while raising your arms straight overhead. Then, hop your feet back together and lower your arms back to your sides. Only raise your arms to the level of the water if you become distracted by the splashing.