Need to refresh your fitness routine? An active dip in the pool offers low-impact, high heart-rate fun and you don’t have be an Olympic swimmer to enjoy the benefits of water workouts — in fact, the following routine is perfect for swimmers and non-swimmers alike.
For beginners and those who are significantly overweight, the water’s buoyancy creates a low-impact workout that reduces stress on your joints, bones, and muscles. And for regular exercisers, a water workout offers an efficient way to increase fitness: Since water provides resistance in both directions, you can achieve twice the workout capacity in the same amount of time.
So hop in the water during your next trip to the pool or lake (ocean waves might not be the best place for this workout). And moms, why not suit up with the kids and find an empty lane during swim lessons? This is one workout that’s bound to make a splash.
1. Swim: Begin by swimming 2-3 laps (one lap equals two lengths of the pool) in your stroke of choice resting 10-15 second in between each lap.
2. Kick: Kick at the wall or holding onto a kickboard for 2 minutes, alternating 15 seconds of hard kicking with 15 seconds recovery.
Tip: Splashing is fun, but you’ll get a better workout if you keep your kick underwater. Focus on the speed rather than the height of your kick.
3. Swim: Return to swimming, again getting in 2-3 laps in your stroke of choice resting 10-15 second in between each lap.
4. Tread Water: Tread water for 2 minutes, alternating 15 seconds of treading with 15 seconds recovery. Try taking your hands out of the water, holding a ball or other object as you develop strength.
5. Swim: Hit the lap lane for another swim set, logging another 2-3 laps in your stroke of choice resting 10-15 seconds in between each lap.
6. Squat Jumps: In shallow water, perform 2 minutes of explosive squat jumps, alternating 15 seconds of jumps with 15 seconds of recovery. Squat back and down with your feet a little more than hip width apart and your weight over your heels.
Tip: The deeper you squat, the more challenging the jump will be.
7. Swim: Swim another 2-3 laps in your stroke of choice resting 10-15 second in between each lap.
8. Scull: Scull for 2 minutes, alternating 15 seconds of work with 15 seconds of recovery.
Tip: Sculling is treading water with your arms instead of your legs. Keep your fingers together and move your arms horizontally just below the surface of the water. Scoop the water in a downward direction, using your legs as little as possible.
9. Swim: Return to swimming for your final 2-3 laps in your stroke of choice resting 10-15 second in between each lap.
10. Core Work: Finish up with some double leg lifts. Lean your back against the edge of the pool and extend your arms out to the side to hold on to the wall. Extend your legs down to the bottom of the pool then raise them as high as possible keeping them straight and together the whole time (think mermaid here). Perform two sets of 15 leg lifts.
Water workouts have a wonderfully calming effect. If you have a few minutes leftover, hit the hot tub and enjoy the afterglow of your workout. Your body and mind will thank you later.
Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an ACE-certified fitness professional and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.