The benefits of swimming in the pool are well known. Swimming can burn exceptional calories in addition to training the cardiovascular and muscular systems of the body. It is an excellent way to burn off stubborn body fat and tone up every muscle in the body. Yet, it all too often assumed that swimming is the only beneficial activity one could do in the water. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The most known benefit of exercising in the water is the absence of impact on the joints, bones, and tendons of the body. There are many plyometric movements that can be done in the pool that would typically cause pain, discomfort, or even injury if done on flat ground. For many – exercising in the pool allows them to move in the ways they should without risking their health. The water serves as a medium to slow their movements down prior to locking out the joints.

What makes water unique is its viscosity, or “thickness”, and it’s relative resistance vs. that of air. This equates to the constant presence of resistance against the body, in all directions, that requires significant force to overcome. Yet, as stated earlier – the same attribute that opposes movement and lends itself to a great workout is the same factor that will help slow movement and amplify safety.

What follows is a list of five awesome moves that are designed for you to maximize your time in the water. You will boost your metabolism, churn through calories, and watch as your muscles begin to show the tone you’ve been searching for. Check out these five moves and add them to your next workout program!

Running in the Water

The most elementary of human movements is the running stride. An evolution of our need to survive it is a pattern that should be trained by every one of all ages. It is a foundational human movement.

Running in the pool provides all of the cardiovascular benefits of your typical run through the town minus the abuse on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. By removing the gravity influenced foot strike from the equation we are able to train the muscles without jeopardizing the joints!

In fact, running the water can actually provide even great of a challenge to the muscles due to its relative “weight”, or fluid resistance. The muscles of the thigh and hip are going to have to work extra to overcome the inertia of the water. That additional workload is going to translate directly into more calories burned and a better adaptation in the muscle tissue!

Treat your pool runs like interval sprints on a treadmill or local hill. Set a time that you will work for and stride as hard you can for the entirety of the duration. Then, rest for an appropriate amount of time for optimal recovery (this is usually seen as a ratio of work: rest). A great starting point for beginners would be a 1:5 ratio, where as an advanced runner may look to do a series of 1:1 or 1:2 ratios.

Explosive Jumps

Plyometric jumps can develop explosive power while toning the legs, tightening the core, and shaping the glutes! Box jumps, broad jumps, and even a standard squat jump are outstanding methods of achieving a fitter body. Yet, like running they also provide high levels of impact on the joints, and present a risk of injury if an exercise is missed.

Enter the water!

In the pool these jumps, just like running, will have to oppose the force and viscosity of the water. This resistance demands even more output from the muscles, which in time can lead to tremendous results.

Perform standard squat jumps, lunge jumps, and even lateral hops for eight to twelve repetitions with only thirty to forty seconds in between sets. Five or six sets of each of these movements and your legs will be feeling worked!

Upper Body Presses/Flyes/and Rows

It is actually quite easy to sink down into the water so only your head is above the surface. Once you’ve gotten into this position you can proceed to bench press, front flye, rear flye, and even row against the resistance of the water. All of these movements will feel tremendously hard if you manage your tempo and push against the water with intent to feel the muscles working!

These moves can be done with just your hands, a kickboard, holding a broomstick, or even a beach ball. The larger the surface area of the object – the more resistance you will feel.

Working all different muscles and movements for four to five sets, each of which should last at least one minute, will leave your arms, shoulders, and back muscles feeling smoked! Your abs will even join the party and feel fatigued by the very end too. Playing with different angles and leverages underwater is an awesome way to mix up the training stimulus.

Beach Ball Rotations

This exercise could easily contend for best oblique and abdomen exercise. The constant presence of fluid resistance against the beach ball forces the muscles of the core to never stop applying force. More importantly, unlike a cable woodchop or resistance band rotation, the water provides three-hundred and sixty degrees of resistance against the movement. This means there is no rest point, or “easy” phase of the movement for slacking off to occur. It is all work the entire time

Take a standard beach ball and hold it underwater at stomach level. Begin rotating from side to side using the ball against the weight of the water. It will be hardest when the ball is further away from your because you have extended your arms. This effectively lengthens the distance the ball must travel, thus increasing the amount of work that must be done by your obliques to rotate underwater. A regression of this movement would be to hug the beach ball and keep the rotations small and tight!

Again look to do sets of thirty seconds to a minute with an equal amount of rest after each one. A few sets of these rotations will have you feeling tight, and your body feeling great!

Shadow Boxing

An actual exercise modality used by many great boxers – shadow boxing underwater allows for the punches to be thrown against the resistance of the water. Like every other exercise on this list – it is significantly more difficult to punch against the water than it is to do so against air.

All of the cardiovascular benefits of boxing are still present underwater. Yet, the addition of resistance makes this an awesome challenge to the muscles of the shoulders, back, and arms.

Best part?

No need for gloves, bags, or a coach to tell you what to do. Just get deep enough underwater and start working those jabs, hooks, crosses, and upper cuts. Move lightly on your feet and twist your body as though you are avoiding your opponent. This full body calorie crusher will have you feeling tone and tough in no time!

Aim to complete four to five rounds of two minutes to really maximize the benefits of shadow boxing underwater.


It is incredibly easy to overlook all of the excellent exercises that can be done in the swimming pool. It is normal to look at the body of water as a place to swim or relax with a cool beverage in your hands. However, by shifting your viewpoint and realizing that so much of what is done on the gym floor can be done under the water.

Go for it today and give it a try. You’ll find it is quite a fluid transition.



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