Forget Laps: A Better Pool Workout

Credit: Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

While water-resistance workouts have been around for a while, Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Bodyarmor spokesperson, has recently pushed them back in the spotlight by praising their benefits during his recovery from shoulder surgery.

“What I really enjoyed was hopping in a pool, honestly, once or twice a week and doing some exercises in there," Luck says. "The pool provides some really funky sort of support yet resistance, and it’s been a nice way for me to recover after more traditional exercises on maybe a lighter day.”

Taking your workout to the pool has a ton of benefits: significantly less wear and tear on your joints; water pressure helps push inflammatory fluid from your limbs; added resistance for all of your movements; and less pain in inflamed joints, meaning you can use your full range of motion while maintaining control. With summer right around the corner and pools, lakes, and oceans open for business, follow Luck's example and take this workout to the water.

(Pro tip: Deep water is best for cardio training, and water only reaching your chest is ideal for interval, strength, and plyometric training.)

The Workout

Lower Body

Water Squats

  • Stand in shallow water.
  • Slowly bend your knees, making sure to push your hips back. Do not arch your back.
  • Do 3 sets of 10.

Kicks

  • Grab the edge of the pool.
  • Turn your foot out slightly. Kick your leg straight back, making sure not to arch your back.
  • Increase the speed you perform this to make it harder.
  • Do 4 sets of 15 per leg.

Side Kicks

  • Grab the edge of the pool.
  • Keep your feet pointed straight ahead.
  • Kick your leg out to the side without leaning your trunk.
  • Repeat for 2 sets of 20 per leg.

Upper Body

Hulk Smashes

  • Stand in water up to your chest.
  • Place your arms out at your side.
  • Forcefully bring your arms forward, keeping them straight, and cup your hands together.
  • Push your arms back out to the side, pinching your shoulder blades together.

Punches

  • Throw a combination of jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts in the water to get resistance without pounding your joints against a bag.
  • Throw 20-30 of each.

Pull-Ups

  • Grab the side of the pool, hang down into the water. Keeping your knees bent, pull yourself out of the water.

Cardio

Running

  • Run in place or around the perimeter of chest-deep water for 3-5 minutes.
  • Do this for 3-4 intervals.

Jumping Jacks

  • Try a modified jumping jack motion in chest-deep water to get a total body tone and pump your heart rate up.
  • Do 4 sets of 25 reps.

Swim

  • Hit a few laps. Don't neglect the most obvious exercise!

Final Tips:

  • Don’t forget to hydrate. Since you won’t feel the sweat, you can become easily dehydrated.
  • Change the speed of the movement to instantly make any of these exercises harder.
  • Or, change the position of your legs and arms to create more drag.