Pool Exercises: Get a Full-Body Workout in Only 10 Exercises

Pool Exercises

Pool exercises may seem fun and simplistic at first glance, until you actually get in the water and start doing some of these fantastic exercises, that is. A workout which includes pool exercises packs a lot more of a punch than you might expect.

What Are the Benefits of Pool Exercises?

Working out in the water allows you to put less stress on your body overall, but in particular, you can better protect your joints, ligaments, and tendons. Because you float in water, you’re able to use your limbs and muscles to propel yourself without placing a lot of force on these more vulnerable areas. However, since you’re moving through water, there is a gentle resistance when you move in any direction. This makes pool exercises simply fantastic.

Studies show that pool exercises can provide improvements to your cardiovascular system, your muscle strength, and your overall body composition. According to scientists who conducted a 12-week water aerobics program, “it appears that a 12-week water aerobics program (two 50-minute classes per week) is enough to induce improvements in explosive strength, body composition, and blood pressure in the adult population.”

Studies also show that “patients may become more active and improve their quality of life as a result of aquatic exercise.” Some of the other benefits of pool exercises include:

  • Pain relief—scientists say that pool exercises can help relieve and diminish pain.
  • Osteoarthritis and Arthritis—studies showed a significant improvement in levels of pain for those folks with osteoarthritis and arthritis. Moving through water can help lessen pain as you gently perform pulling and pushing movements through the water.
  • Loosen joints—since your limbs are supported by the water itself, water can also be used to loosen up stiff joints by using water as a gentle form of resistance to practice pushing and pulling movements against.
  • Burn extra body fat—studies show pool exercises are an effective means of burning off excess fat.
  • Strengthen muscles—water provides gentle, but powerful, resistance, which is proven to help strengthen muscles over time. The water supports the limb and provides resistance as you move through it. The faster you move, the greater the resistance provided.
  • Gentle on injuries—even those who cannot typically perform some exercises can generally get a good workout with pool exercises without exacerbating injuries.
  • Improve circulation—moving your limbs through the water helps promote blood flow and increased circulation.
  • Easy to balance—and if you “fall,” the water will “catch” you, so those with balance issues can still get a great workout without fear of falling.
  • Boost immune system—exercise helps boost the immune system, and pool exercises are no different!
  • Reduce stress—yes, pool exercises, just like regular exercise, help reduce stress and release endorphins.

Try These Pool Exercises for a Fantastic Full-Body Workout

Begin slowly and gently working your way through these pool exercises. You may need to brace yourself against the side of the pool to start. As you get stronger and more fit, you can add to the difficulty of your exercises if you’d like to by getting waterproof weights, hand paddles, a kickboard, and even dumbbells designed for the pool. For added difficulty and intensity, you can also perform the movements at a faster pace.

1. Walking in water—sounds simple, yes, but it’s not necessarily that easy! The deeper the water, the harder it becomes to walk through it. So, start out slowly in more shallow water until you get acclimated to the water’s resistance. Walk through deeper and deeper water as you become stronger, and you’ll notice the difficulty increase. When you’re a pro, you can even submerge yourself up to your shoulders so you have to move your arms and legs through the water.

2. Arm circles—begin by standing in water that covers your shoulders. Raise your arms out to your sides until they are parallel with the bottom of the pool. Slowly move your arms in forward circles, starting with small circles and working your way up to bigger circles. Perform 15 – 20 large circles with both arms simultaneously and then switch directions and repeat the above but in the opposite direction (backwards).

3. Knee lifts—start by standing in water that is at least chest deep. Beginning with your right leg, lift your knee up toward your chest level, pause, and return the leg to the start. Repeat with the opposite leg.

4. Arm curls—start in chest deep water with your arms by your sides. Simultaneously bend at the elbows to bring your fists up to your chest. This will work your biceps. Next, forcefully push back down through the water to straighten your arms again to work your triceps.

5. Leg curls—start by standing in water which is at least waist high. Bend your right knee and lift your foot upward. You’ll move the lower portion of your leg by contracting your hamstring. Pause when you reach the top and then push forcefully back down until your foot is on the ground. (This will work the front of your legs, or your quadriceps.)

6. Squat and jump—this can work your entire body if done properly. Start by standing in chest deep water. You can start by squatting down (bend your knees) until the water reaches your chin. Keep your arms by your sides. Next, forcefully push up through your heels and propel your body off the bottom of the pool.

Variations: Put your arms out to your sides and use your arms to help propel your body upwards.

Lastly, if you want to make it even harder, you can fully submerge when going into your squat so when you jump up, you have a lot more resistance.

7. Leg lifts—want to work your abdominals?! Position yourself against the wall and place your arms on the side of the pool with your body facing the water. Let your legs hang straight down. Bend your knees and bring them up toward your chest, squeezing your abdominals as you do so. Pause, return to the start, and repeat.

8. Scissor kicks—begin by positioning yourself against the wall and place your arms on the side of the pool with your body facing the water. Lift your legs slightly off the bottom of the pool and perform a scissoring motion. (Keep your legs straight during this movement.)

9. Water pushups—begin by facing the side of the pool. Place your hands on the rim of the pool about shoulder-width apart. Step back until you are leaning forward and your arms are outstretched. Bend at the elbows and bring your chest toward your hands to perform a standing pushup. Pause and push back to start. Repeat.

10. Flyes and reverse flyes—start by standing in chest deep water. Bring your fists up to your chest with your elbows parallel to the bottom of the pool. Straighten your arms and push them out to your sides and backwards as far as you can while squeezing your back muscles. Pause and then turn your palms inward and move through the water to bring your hands together in front of you.

These pool exercises may sound easy enough, but once you’re in, you’ll discover how truly challenging they can be!