Pool Exercises: Best Ways to Lose Weight and Build Strength

It’s 2021 and one of the most common resolutions (as it is every year) is to lose more weight! The pool is often an option that gets overlooked when it comes to exercise – especially if you don’t fancy yourself a swimmer – but it’s a great workout location that offers much more than just a place to swim laps.

There are many traditionally land-based exercises that transfer fantastically to the pool for an effective workout that uses the resistance of the water to boost the burn without the high impact. While many of the exercises here seem pretty mild, the support and the resistance that the pool water provides actually burns more calories and builds up muscle faster than you might think. And as an added bonus, every pool exercise will help you build endurance and enhances your cardiovascular activity without overly tiring yourself out.

Walking in the pool

Walking around in the pool is the easiest exercise that you can do. Don’t get me wrong though, the resistance provided by the water is much more taxing to the body than walking on land! At the same time, it’s gentler than walking on land. Walking in the pool is a great introduction to starting off any long-term plan for losing weight and building strength.

  • Do your walking exercises at the shallow end of the pool, preferably in around waist-high water. The more confident you are and the higher your endurance is, the deeper you can go.
  • Contrary to what you may think, there is actually a wrong way to walk in the pool! The reason why we suggest starting in the shallow end of the pool is that you should be putting the pressure on your heels, and not on tiptoes as is our first instinct when walking on water.
  • To increase the resistance once you’ve progressed enough to walk in chest-high water, you can extend your arms out to the sides, palms out to increase the resistance even more.
  • Take walking in the pool to the next level by using ankle weights to increase lower body strength. You'd be amazed at how light on your feet you'll feel after a few sessions! For more strength and resistance training, hold you can even hold on to some pool dumbells!

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Jumping in (and out!)

So simple, yet so effective. You can do this just by standing in water above hip height and jumping your knees up to your chest. Alternatively, I love the all-time classic bomb dive if the pool is deep enough. Seriously, they are the bomb! Run and jump, then swim to the side, get out and repeat. Not only are they ridiculously good fun, but the whole process also burns up a gazillion calories.

  • Jumping jacks - While this is considered as a warm-up in surface exercises, jumping jacks in water can be a full workout in itself. To do jumping jacks properly, start in chest-high water to get the full effect. Start with your arms at the side and your feet together. Jump by moving your legs outward and move your arms level with your shoulder (unlike traditional jumping jacks where you try and put your hands together above your head). Jump again bringing your arms down and your feet together to bring you back to your starting position.
  • Cannonball runs - Need more ideas on how to jump into the pool? Check out this infographic on the 50 ways you can jump into the pool!

Pool Squats

In a wide stance squat, go underwater then jump up out of the water as high as you can. If you’re swimming with your kids you can even hold on to them while doing this exercise and you’ll not only be seen as the coolest adult in town, you'll be using mega fuel to do so.

Arm Lifts

If you want to start building up upper body strength then arm lifts are the way to go. You can increase the resistance by having pool noodles in each hand, or if you really want to do it the proper way, get a set of Life Resistance Dumbells for a more balanced weight in each arm and proper training.

  • Stand in shoulder-deep water and start with your arms at your sides.
  • Hold the dumbbells (or pool noodle) straight and aligned with your body.
  • Raise your arms until they’re straight and level with your shoulders, think of a “T” position. Hold it there for a few seconds then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Lowering your arms slowly is part of the exercise! Don’t just let them drop down!
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Press-ups

Once you’ve gotten the arm lifts down pat, you can further increase your upper body strength some press-ups, and the good thing? No extra equipment required! With your hands on the edge of the pool and bent elbows, press up to full straight arms then back down. Great for chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Running

Feeling confident about your cardiovascular capacity? Walking around the pool no longer giving you the desired workout? Well, time to take it to the next level with water running! Water running is excellent for rehab, injuries and straight calorie burning. Either run on the spot or, if space permits, try to cover some distance – you’ll feel the extra workout this provides. We suggest doing this exercise in waist-high water to ensure that you’re running on your heels and on the flat of your foot and not on tiptoes.

Swimming laps

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Not exactly a land exercise, though our handy resistance trainer allows you to swim km's of laps on the spot! Similar to running on a treadmill. How does it work? One end of the resistance trainer attaches to your pool gate or fence, while the other end fits around your waist. The waistband is able to be adjusted easily due to its velcro attachment. From there, the elastic resistance will give you the same feeling of swimming laps, without having to turn around at each end. Perfect for your backyard pool, big or small!

Boxing

Think of all your boxing moves then get your shoulders underwater and knock it out! Punch away at an imaginary target – jabs, uppercuts and even throw in some kicks. It will look amusing to anyone watching from outside the pool, but who cares? You’re getting a better workout than most people do in an average day. Check out our complete pool fitness weights set to add that little extra 'oomph' to your workout.

Pool Exercise Safety Tips

While exercising in the pool is generally safer than exercising in the gym or running around the neighborhood, there are still some things to keep in mind when doing your pool exercises.

  • Stay Hydrated - you may not feel like it, but you’re actually sweating a lot in the pool and staying hydrated is very important! Always keep a water bottle handy so you can easily refuel and keep on exercising!
  • Rest when needed - If you feel overly tired, then take a break! There’s no one around to judge you! And the best thing about it is you’re already at the best location to lounge and relax!
  • Don’t exercise in an overly heated pool - While it may sound like a good idea, exercising in a pool heated close to 32C can be dangerous as it will lead to overheating and heat stroke, especially in sunny Australian days!
  • If you’re not a good swimmer (or even if you’re a great swimmer! Safety first!), always have a floatation device handy in cases of emergency like cramps or over-exhaustion.

Conclusion

If you have a pool at home, skip the gym memberships and do your workouts at home! Not only will you be safe from the pandemic but you'll save a lot on the monthly gym memberships and fuel, not to mention time spent travelling to and from the gym! And what that does mean? More money saved to get that automatic pool cleaner or robotic pool cleaner that you've always wanted, which in turn will save you even more time!

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Already have a robotic pool cleaner? How about using the savings to change up your current pool pump to an energy efficient pool pump and save even more money in the long run!

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Post author:

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX

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