Swimming is the penultimate summer pastime. From backyard pools to water parks, if it's water related, Americans will be there. But close your eyes and think of your backyard pool. Do you see a gym? No, you see games of Marco Polo and diving boards. It's time for a thought makeover. Check with a doctor and then jump in and start toning. Grab some gear and check out these strength-heavy swimming workouts.
Basic Strength Workout
If you can do it on land, you can replicate it in water -- only with less resistance and stress on your joints. Water's natural buoyancy takes the edge off joint-jarring strength exercises, like dynamic jump squats, allowing you to do more reps. Yes, you'll feel the burn in the locker room, but while in the water, it's smooth sailing. Stand in waist-deep water and spread your feet hip-distance apart. Place your arms at your sides, and tighten your abs. Squat, lowering your glutes toward the pool bottom, and lean your upper-body forward. Keep your back straight and flat, though. Instead of rising up, jump off the pool floor and straighten your upper body. Do one set of 12 squat jumps. Follow with a set of 10 to 12 leg lifts and alternate legs. Grab the pool wall and finish with an upper-body move, a pullup.
You'll need special equipment for some aqua Pilates exercises, so it's best to check out a class at your local fitness center. Traditionally known for back lying poses, Pilates and water are not a likely fit. But water's natural buoyancy boosts the exercise program's balance-enhancing abilities. Certified aquatic Pilates instructors use floatation belts, pool noodles, hand webs, floating dumbbells and more, to help strengthen and tone your muscles. Moves usually include planks, mermaids and suspended teaser, but they can vary depending on the instructor and class level.
Burn off that pool-side snack with Rough-Fit master trainer Greg Moe's calorie-torching water program. Grab a beach ball and keep it within reach. Moe's five-exercise workout burns 11 calories per minute while leaving you time to enjoy the pool after. Signature moves include otter rolls, ball levers, pike sculls and wave makes. His lead exercise, the k-tread, calls for you to head for deep water, point your toes down and cup your hands. Move your hands in small, controlled circles while raising your left leg to the front. Stop when it's at hip level. Rapidly scissor-kick, swapping legs every five seconds for 30 seconds.
Working out on land can stress weakened, diseased or painful joints. And those with degenerative or inflammatory joint diseases like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, or recent joint injury, may find it easier to strength train in the pool due to the water's natural buoyancy. As you're able to swim into deeper portions of the pool -- unassisted or with a pool aid, the water lifts your body off the pool floor, creating an anti-gravity workout environment.
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