The Next Big Workout Trend: Just Add Water

Training strength in a pool adds resistance from all directions. Credit: Speedo USA.

When you hear "water workout," you’re either picturing swimming laps, or a gaggle of synchronized grannies doing arm circles. But there’s a new fitness movement that might change all that. Imagine cleaning a barbell underwater, doing plyometric jumps in the deep end, and sprinting across the pool floor. Men’s Journal got a taste of this style of water workout this week, when swim giant Speedo unveiled SpeedoFit, a new line of gear made specifically for intense pool training. In it, you'll find grippy, durable sneakers for underwater strength exercises and compression swim trunks and workout tees that can be worn just as easily in the water as out.

On hand to take media, and Olympians Ryan Lochte and Cullen Jones, through a workout to test the gear was Laird Hamilton, the original champion of underwater training. Hamilton has been hauling dumbbells and boulders into the pool for years. He says working out in the water is a simple way to dial up intensity — water provides 360 degrees of added resistance — but without tearing down your body.

Whether your workout of choice is endurance training, CrossFit, or yoga, taking it to the water will only better your results, says Mark Verstegen, president and founder of EXOS, a training facility in Phoenix that caters to elite athletes and everyday exercisers. “We’ve been using aquatic fitness every day for decades to get a competitive advantage,” says Verstegen. “Take something like a kettlebell in the water, and suddenly the surface area becomes the new resistance, and you can use more range of motion and move in different planes.” Hard to picture? Verstegen and EXOS, now partners with Speedo, created dozens of how-to videos to explain what to do in the pool.

If the next big trend in fitness means you can train harder without more pain, challenge your muscles in totally different ways, and end a workout poolside, then yeah, we’ll meet you with a pair of dumbbells in the deep end.