During these hot summer months it’s all about finding the nearest pool for a much needed cool off. Instead of floating in the water all day long, why not take advantage by working off some calories with some fun and easy-to-do swimming exercises?
Swimming for weight loss is not a new concept. We have long been aware of how swimming benefits the body. But what about the lesser practiced pool exercises? The ones we often refer to as “water aerobics”. Water aerobics has long gotten a bad rep — most assume it’s a form of exercise solely for those of a certain geriatric age. However, despite the images you’ve seen on TV of fun loving seniors bopping about in a retirement home pool, exercising in the water is an amazing workout for any age. The military, football players and other athletes alike use swimming workouts and pool exercises to build endurance, speed and flexibility. Changing up your normal gym routine for one underwater, whether it be swimming laps or simple pool exercises, can serve as a fun, interesting challenge and provide countless benefits:
Total Body Workout – Pool exercises aid in weight loss like no other. The water adds resistance and creates a total full-body workout you wouldn’t get otherwise, making it a major calorie burner. Swimming workouts and water aerobics exercises can burn up to 300 + calories in just thirty minutes!
Low Impact Cardio – Not only will you burn calories in water, pool workouts are also a great form of low-impact cardio. The buoyancy of the water provides a soft and supportive environment for the joints that running and other cardio activities do not. Say goodbye to wear and tear on your muscles, shin splints and other common cardio-induced injuries.
Heart Healthy – Pool exercises are also a great way to build up cardio endurance and cardiovascular fitness. When working out in cool water, the blood moves faster through the body and results in higher cardiovascular endurance and performance over time.
Natural Stress Relief – Though most exercises provide a sense of stress relief, water workouts will help reduce stress more than the average physical activity. Warmer waters can create a calming and soothing massage-like effect on the muscles, resulting in a natural pain reliever for muscle aches and pains. You’ll be relaxing and burning calories at the same time.
Easy for Everyone – Even if you’re not the strongest swimmer, you can still participate and reap the benefits of water aerobics. Thanks to the added resistance created by the water, exercising in a waist deep or chest deep pool is still extremely effective for weight loss, strength training, and cardio endurance and makes a great beginner swim workout. Though you can incorporate weights and other equipment for an added challenge, all you need for this total-body workout is a bathing suit and a pool!
Now that you know why swim workouts and pool exercises should become part of your weekly fitness routine, here are some effective and easy-to-do swimming and pool exercises to get you splashing your way to your ideal summer bod:
Targets: Total Body
This classic stroke is a classic for a reason. It burns calories quick and is simple to do. If a beginner to swim workouts, practice the stroke and make sure you are comfortable breathing on each side and that you’re not overextending your shoulders. Once ready, try swimming eight sets of four laps, resting 30 seconds in between sets. For the first set, focus on speed; on the second, swim slower to help recover and cool down; continue this pattern throughout sets.
Targets: Back and Shoulders
The backstroke is another classic swim workout that not only burns calories but helps improve posture and flexibility as well. To achieve proper form, lay on your back in the water, with eyes looking straight up. Alternate reaching back with each arm at a 45 degree angle; this form is very important as it alleviates added stress on your shoulders. Start with four sets of four laps and work your way up.
Jog In Place
Targets: Total Body
Keep your knees high, back straight, arms alongside your hips and your abdominal core engaged as you jog in the shallow end of the pool. For a more intense challenge try deeper aqua jogging. You can even use a a flotation belt that suspends you in the water to keep your upper body above the surface.
Target: Shoulders, Legs, and Core
Lean back against the edge of the pool and rest your elbows on the edge; lift legs up so you are in a seated position and pedal them as is you were riding a bicycle. You will need to engage your core to keep from putting all your weight on your upper body.
Target: Glutes and Inner thighs
Start in a squatted, plie position with hands either extended out at shoulder length or on your waist. Jump as high as you can out of the water while raising your arms overhead; return to squatted position and repeat.
Target: Core and Obliques
From a standing position, bring down your right elbow as you bring up your left knee, twist at the waist and have your elbow and knee meet. Return to center and alternate sides.
Target: Outer and Inner thighs
Facing the edge of the pool, hold on to the edge and raise each leg as high as you can, one at a time. As one leg comes back to center begin to raise the next (just like a pendulum).
Target: Core and Legs
This move will surely bring you back to swimming lessons. Hold onto the edge of the pool and kick your legs rapidly behind you. Make sure to focus on keeping your legs under the water and moving as quickly as possible.
Double Leg Lift
Leaning back on the pool edge, extend legs straight out, keeping feet together. Raise legs as high as you can, making sure to keep legs straight and core engaged as you raise them up and down.
Start in bicycle position with back against the edge. For added challenge forego the edge and tread water instead (see video). Extend legs straight out making sure to keep feet together. Tuck knees into chest and return to starting.
Ladder Pull Up
Target: Arms, Back and Shoulders
Holding on to the ladder or the railing on the edge of the pool, use only your arms to pull yourself up out of the water. Lower yourself down and repeat. Grip the railing with palms facing you to work the bicep muscles, then grip with palms facing away for a back and shoulder workout.
Target: Quads, Inner thighs, and Core
Lean back on the edge of the pool, arms extended and grasping the edge. Extend legs out, open them into V like shape, quickly bring them together crossing one ankle over the other; open and repeat, crossing the opposite ankle on top this time. Make sure the scissor motion is small and quick and your core is engaged throughout.
Target: Core, Hips and Arms
Standing In the shallow end of the pool, tread as you lean back into the water and lift both legs together so your body is in a V shape. Your head and your toes should be just about the surface. With your hands cupped and by your hips, tread water to propel or scully your body forward. Keep this move to 30 second intervals.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, build endurance, increase speed, or ease back into physical activity after an injury, these pool and swimming exercises will benefit you greatly no matter what level you’re at. Don’t let the idea of water aerobics deter you; get in the pool and show us what you got! If you have more creative and fun pool exercises or your own swimming workouts, tweet us @66audio or tag us on Instagram and let us know. We love to hear from you and are always looking to try new workout routines!