When the mercury starts soaring, why not switch up your normal gym routine for something a bit more refreshing? “Working out in water is good for so many reasons,” says Greg Moe, personal trainer and owner of RoughFit Outdoor Fitness in Orange County, California. “It has no impact on your joints, and because water is so much thicker than air, it provides resistance every time you move through it. Plus, you have to fight to stay balanced the entire time, so it engages a lot of your stabilizer muscles.” And then there’s the cooling factor. “When you’re in a pool, you can work really hard without worrying about overheating,” says Moe.
But even though a pool workout can be so beneficial, the typical approach of just swimming laps can be on the boring side. While there are ways to make lap swimming more interesting—track lap times on your Fitbit Flex 2 or break the routine into smaller sets of different strokes—you can also do other moves in the water. “Think about how fun it was to play in the pool as a kid—you would tread water, play tag with friends, dive to the bottom of the pool,” says Moe. “As you get older, you tend to lose that sense of play and the pool is a great place to bring that back.” Here’s how.
Equipment-Free, No-Laps-Required Pool Workout
For each part of the workout below, spend 30 seconds doing move A, followed by 30 seconds of rest, then 30 seconds of move B, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat three times, then catch your breath and move onto the next part. As you get stronger, you can increase it to 45 seconds of each move, followed by 15 seconds of rest.
Move A: Side-to-side sprinting
Get your heart rate up and leg muscles burning by running as fast as you can in the shallow end from one side of the pool to the other. This is going to feel hard, so don’t worry if you find yourself barely jogging.
Move B: Pool deck sit-ups
Carefully get out of the water and lie down on a towel. Do as many sit-ups as you can.
Move A: Water muscle-ups
This move uses your lats and triceps to move your body up and down. Get into the water and hang onto the edge of the pool. Dunk your head down under the water until your arms are extended straight above you. Then pull up to lift your head above the water and past the pool deck. At that point, switch to a pushing motion until your arms are extended straight beneath you and you are as far out of the pool as you can be. Repeat.
Move B: Pool deck push-ups
Carefully get out of the water and perform push-ups on a towel. Keep your core engaged the entire time (you don’t want to let your hips sag as you do the move).
Move A: Pool jumps
Stand in the shallow end of the pool. Squat down slightly and jump up as high as you can. Repeat. If you want to make this a little more challenging, take it to the deep end. You’ll hold your breath and go down to the bottom, then push yourself up as hard as you can. Take a breath and repeat.
Move B: Arm waves
Stand in chest-level water with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Hold your arms out in front of you (they should still be completely submerged) and open and close them together like you’re clapping with straight arms. This doesn’t just work your back and chest—you have to stabilize yourself, so it works your core too.