With summer in full swing, it’s important to be mindful about how we get our exercise. In order to avoid over-exerting and overheating, it might be time to switch up your routine. What better way to stay cool than working out at the pool? While it may seem intimidating, you don’t have to be a strong swimmer to get a full-body workout at the pool.
Fear not! Here are 5 unique ways to work out in the water:
It sounds simple, and that’s because it is. Water walking is a great low-impact workout that strengthens muscles and burns calories. Stand in waist-deep water and take steps forward and then backwards to work different muscle groups. Lifting your knees higher as you walk will increase the intensity. Focus on keeping your back straight, your abdominal muscles engaged, and voilà!
Treading water is the act of keeping your body vertical in one place with your head above water. This one takes a little practice, but will definitely have you feeling the burn before long. In order to stay afloat, you need to engage the muscles in your core, arms, and legs at all times. There are a number of different ways to tread water and you’ll quickly find what works for you. For beginners, think about kicking like a frog with your legs, effectively pushing the water down in order to keep yourself afloat. At the same time, move your arms horizontally back and forth to support yourself.
Pro tip: When you get comfortable, try holding your arms above the water and only using your legs. This really cranks up the intensity.
Bonus pro tip: Treading water is a great workout to do with a friend. Find a spot in the deep end and chat away while staying afloat. Don’t think you’re getting off easy-- having a conversation while treading water also increases breath control.
Kickboards are great for swimmers of all skill levels, because their buoyancy will support the upper half of your body. Use a kickboard to isolate your abs, hips, and leg muscles. Place both hands at the round end of the kickboard and keep your arms parallel and straight, resting them on the board. Try a simple flutter kick by moving your legs up and down, one at a time. You can do laps like this with a kickboard, keeping your head above water the entire time. This is awesome because you can breathe the whole way.
For an extra challenge and a more intense ab workout, try a butterfly kick (A.K.A. dolphin kick) instead. In order to butterfly kick, your legs need to move together at the same time. Think mermaids… or mermen! Use your abdominal muscles to create a wave of movement that starts at your hips and travels down to your feet.
It’s true! A swimmer of almost any skill level can enjoy fins and there are so many different ways to use them. When you strap on a pair of fins, you’re pushing more water with each kick, which is great for strengthening those lower body muscles. You’ll also move through the water much more quickly and efficiently, and who doesn’t like to feel fast? Fins can take some getting used to, but are certainly worth the effort.
Use fins to practice your kicks with a kickboard, or put your arms above your head in the streamline position and go to town. If you’re comfortable with a front crawl stroke, use fins to increase your arm speed.
Pro tip: Be careful not to use fins when doing a breaststroke kick (or frog kick, mentioned earlier). This is dangerous for your knees. As a general rule of thumb, stick to flutter, dolphin, or backstroke kicks.
A pull buoy is basically a buoyant piece of foam shaped to fit between your thighs. This way, you can drag your legs behind you while keeping them afloat and focusing on your upper body. A pull buoy is a really useful tool to practice breathing, learn new strokes, and strengthen your arms.
Pro tip: If you’re practicing a new stroke but haven’t quite put all the pieces together, use a pull buoy to isolate your arms. Work on getting those right first, and worry about syncing up with your kicks later.