Want to burn more calories throughout the day, move with confidence, reduce your risk of injury and enhance your figure? It's time to strengthen your muscles. Strength is improved when a muscle experiences resistance to contraction. On land, this resistance comes from weights, elastic bands or hydraulic forces. In water, the water itself creates resistance. You can improve muscle strength and endurance with water exercises, using correct technique and proper form.
If you've ever floated in water, you know the wonderful feeling of buoyancy. Water supports the body, taking the load off. This means you must work to create resistance. You can do this with a greater range of motion, more drag or faster speed. Simply straighten your arms and legs to increase your range of motion. Equipment such as webbed gloves, buoys and paddles will increase drag.
Strive for a range of motion and cadence that fatigues your muscles after 15 repetitions on each side. If you need more resistance, straighten your limbs, make paddles with your palms or travel with the movements. Just make sure you have good form and technique before increasing the load. Maintain core stabilization throughout, and, as always, if something hurts, don't do it. After you finish, relax, breathe deeply and let the buoyancy take over. You earned it!
Workout No. 1
Warm up with fluid, full-body movements such as water walking with arm swings. When your breathing gets heavier and your body temperature rises, you are ready to strength train. Lunge forward and backward, using your arms to assist the movement. Intersperse the lunges with giant steps to the side. Remember, you should work hard enough to be fatigued after 15 repetitions. Move into grapevine side steps -- cross one foot in front of the other, then step the back foot out to the side. Follow this with a set of knee lifts while pressing your hands down toward the floor. Transition from knee lifts into single-leg kicks, then kick one heel at a time to your buttocks. Finish your workout standing upright. Swing one arm forward and the other back, then draw palm circles, moving one hand out away from your body and across to the opposite shoulder.
Workout No. 2
After you warm up, alternately kick your legs forward while swinging your arms. Kick backward. Then kick to the sides. While the water is still turbulent, balance on one leg and draw palm circles to fatigue. Leap from one side to the other, then submerge to your shoulders and open and close your arms and legs in power jumping jacks. Next, bring one foot across your body to the opposite hand. A rocking horse is great for the hips and core. With the same leg forward, kick your back heel to your buttocks, then rock back and bring your front knee up to your chest. Finish with a power cross country, one of the best whole-body strengthening exercises that you can do. Submerge to your shoulders and alternately swing one leg and the opposite arm forward while the other leg and arm swing backward.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: A Method for Monitoring Intensity During Aquatic Resistance Exercises
- Journal of Sports Science and Medicine: Physiological Assessment of Head-Out Aquatic Exercises in Healthy Subjects: A Qualitative Review
- Aquatic Exercise Association: Aquatic Fitness Professional Manual
Cindy Killip is a health and fitness specialist, health coach, author and speaker who has been teaching and writing about exercise and wellness since 1989. She authored "Living the BONES Lifestyle: A Practical Guide to Conquering the Fear of Osteoporosis." Killip holds multiple certifications through the American Council on Exercise and degrees in communications and sociology from Trinity University.