8 Pool Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

pool exercises - woman swimming with small child - full body workout - summer

If you’re bored with your regular fitness routine or would rather be outside enjoying the sun this summer, make plans to stay cool at the pool instead! It’s been proven that working out with water exercises two to three times a week can make a significant impact in your strength, flexibility and cardio. But before you swipe away thinking this isn’t for you, take a look at the different types of full-body, pool exercises you can try this summer and how easy it is to change up your water exercise routine so you’re always doing something new. And yes, this is absolutely something you can do even when your kids are invading your personal bubble. Just incorporate them into the workout by encouraging them to do it with you!



Top Benefits of Working Out in a Pool

Everyone can benefit from water exercises. But if you’re pregnant, dealing with joint pain or inflammation from an illness or injury, have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, or have physical limitations that make it difficult to work out as hard as you would like to on land, water exercise should be your go-to! Here are our top reasons why:


#1: Pool exercises put less stress on your joints. 

Thanks to the buoyancy of the water, your body weighs about 50% less when standing waist-deep in the water. At chest depth, you weigh around 25% of what your body weight would be on land! That takes a considerable amount of stress off your joints when working out. It also can help you see results even faster because you’re able to work out longer. We recommend doing most water or aerobic exercises at chest depth. But, if you want to add more resistance, you can move toward shallower waters. 


#2: Pool exercises give you total body training.

Think water exercise are too easy? Think again. An exercise you can do easily on land may feel completely different in the water. That’s because resistance is literally all around you. Water’s multi-direction resistance turns a simple bicep curl into an exercise that engages muscle both on the biceps on the way up and the triceps on the way day. Try doing some arm circles or chest flys and see how long it takes to feel your muscles start to feel a good burn when you factor in the resistance of the water.


#3: Water exercises help you increase your mobility and flexibility.   

Anytime you put your joints in water, you’re able to move more freely and with greater range. Exercising in the pool takes the stress off, so instead of doing the same exercises you normally would on land, focus on trying something new and challenge yourself to stretch a little further as you gain strength and flexibility.


#4: Pool workouts improve your heart health. 

Because water exercises are such a great low-impact aerobic activity, everyone can do it – no matter their age! All you have to do is figure out what fitness level you can handle, then work on slowing building up your endurance. Water exercises are also a great way to boost your heart rate and burn calories to help with weight loss, too!

dumbbells equipment for water aerobics exercisessport near swimming pool


What You Need to Get Your Water Workout Started

In truth, the only thing you need for a good water workout is a pool and a swimsuit. It doesn’t have to be your pool either. You could head over to a friend’s house or use the pool at a local community center or gym year-round. But if you’d like to up the intensity a little, you can add these pieces of equipment to enhance your pool workout routine.


  • Kickboard – A great grab for many in-water exercises to help you stay afloat while working on your core and lower body.
  • Pool noodle – Another easy option for giving you something to hold onto and stay afloat, plus it can be used in many exercises. 
  • Foam dumbbells – Great for adding resistance as they are light when dry and become heavier when in the water. 
  • Wrist or ankle weights – Increases the resistance of your arm and leg movements in the water. They simply strap on to your wrists and ankles.



Mix & Match Pool Exercises to Maximize Your Workout

woman doing water aerobics in a pool with a pool noodle

Walk Laps in the Water. 

Walking in the water is a great starter exercise to help you get used to feeling the resistance and how you can use it to challenge your body. It also targets most of your body, using your arms, core and lower body. To get the most out of this exercise, make sure you stand tall and put pressure on your heel first, then your toes, instead of walking the pool floor on your tiptoes. You also want to make sure you pull your stomach muscles in toward your belly button so you feel your core engaged. Walk for 10-15 minutes (or longer if you’re having fun). And if you’re a mom, no worries. Grab that baby or child that won’t leave you alone in the pool and use them for added resistance and some upper body strength training! 


Do Sprint Kicks

This series of kicks really work your core and legs. Holding the edge of the pool or your pool noodle/kickboard, stretch out your body and work your way through a circuit of different leg kicks. Repeat the circuit three times giving yourself a 20-30 second rest between each kick. 

  • Flutter-kicks for 30 seconds as fast as you can
  • Scissor kick your legs open and closed for 30 seconds
  • Breaststroke kicks with just your legs for 30 seconds
  • Dolphin kicks with your feet together for another 30 seconds
  • Bicycling kicks for 30 seconds
  • Go for Jumping Jacks

While they may not be your favorite on land, jumping jacks in the water are a blast to do. Engage your arms, legs and core and see how many you can do in one minute. Remember to keep you back straight and to not lift your arms out of the water.


Add in Pool Planks

Pool planks accomplish the same thing that planks on land do – strengthening your core. Hold on to a pool noodle and push down until your body is at about a 45-degree angle. Tighten your core and try to hold this position for 2 minutes before relaxing and trying it again.


Practice Your V-Sits

To do a v-sit in the water, you get your body into a v-position and tread water with your arms. You can also use a noodle to keep you afloat if find it too challenging to tread water and engage your core. Bring your knees up to your chest and use your legs to kick your butt. Repeat 20 times each before taking a rest.


Swim Laps

This is a no-brainer but a given to include because of how many calories it burns. It’s around 300 calories for 30 minutes in case you were wondering, but it can vary depending on your size and level of intensity. Change it up as you go, working on your form for the breaststroke, backstroke, dolphin kick and more. Swimming laps also target EVERY problem area in your body. You’ll walk away knowing you put in a good workout for your shoulders, back, abs, legs, hips, and butt.


Tread Water

You can burn the same amount of calories treading water (if you keep your arms and legs moving) as you can running 6-miles per hour! At 11 calories a minute burn, I’ll take treading water over running any day! If you’re swimming with your friends or family, turn it into a game and add some friendly competition to see who can tread water the longest. 


Tackle Tuck Jumps

Another great in-water exercise is a tuck jump. For this one, you’ll need to move to a little deeper water (about shoulder height), then jump off the floor of the pool and bring your knees to your chest for a tuck jump. To make it more challenging, instead of pushing off the floor between each jump, trying treading water instead. 



Always Play it Safe When Starting Any Pool Exercises

Remember to always talk with your healthcare provider or local AlignLife Chiropractor before starting any new exercises. You can schedule an appointment right here only if you want a quick spine health check before you start! It’s also important to note that it’s easy to get dehydrated and not realize it when you’re in a pool. Also, stop exercising right away if you feel faint, dizzy, unable to breathe, nauseous, or have pain or pressure in your upper chest.  But most of all, remember to have fun, play with your kids (or grandkids) if you have them, and enjoy basking in the water and sun.




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