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5 Simple Pool Exercise Routines

Swimming pools are the ultimate multitasking tool! You can work on your tan, spend time with the family, and torch calories all at once.

Some might think that the only way to build lean muscle in the pool is by swimming laps, but that simply isn’t so. Though traditional swimming works virtually all muscles at once, simply moving around in the water provides muscle benefit because of the water’s resistance. The following are some great ways to get active in the pool – that don’t involve swimming laps!

Water Jogging

Also called aqua jogging, water jogging is very self-explanatory, and is exactly what you think it is – jogging in the pool. The technique and equipment used to water jog depends on the depth of your pool.

To jog in shallow water, simply simulate your natural running style. For deeper water, running motions should be a bit exaggerated. Staying afloat during deep water jogging can be very difficult at first, so consider using a flotation belt. Take it off when you’re ready for the extra challenge. If you’re ready to get serious, there are even aqua jogging or water-safe tennis shoes available.

Treading or Kicking

This is an easy routine to get the kids involved, and can be easily switched around for a variety of exercises. Using a noodle or kickboard for support, race your companion (or the clock if you’re alone) to the opposite end of the pool. Switch up your method and alternate kicks, maybe going from a flutter kick to mermaid or dolphin-style (legs together).

You could also straddle the noodle, and race (or ride) that way. If you’re using a kickboard, have a splash contest to see who can make the biggest splash – legs only!

Resistance Training

Grab your resistance band and migrate your usual routine to the pool. If you’re not familiar with resistance band moves, there are some pretty basics ones. The great thing about training with resistance bands in the pool is the added multidirectional resistance offered by the water. This can both provide a little extra challenge as well as support weaker areas, such as knees.

A very easy and traditional resistance band move is the squat:

  • Place your feet about shoulder width apart on the resistance band, while holding an end of the band in each hand at shoulder level.
  • Bend your knees, so that they are over your toes, and try to keep your back straight.
  • For an added challenge, lift your arms overheard as you return to a standing position.


Two extremely easy ways to work your arms in the pool are push-ups and dips. Try doing two or three sets of 10-15 of each whenever you jump in the pool.

For dips, face inward with hands on the edge of the pool also facing in, and with elbows bent. Straighten your arms and lift yourself up, then lower yourself again by bending elbows. You can also do dips facing the pool wall. Use your feet for support if needed.

Push-ups can be done similarly, by gripping the edge of the pool. If your pool has stairs, you can also utilize those by placing hands on the highest step and legs below.


Intervals can be worked into many exercise routines. Working out in intervals means alternating effort – for example, exert yourself vigorously for 45 seconds while water jogging, then back off and go easy for 30 seconds. Intervals are excellent because they are completely adaptable to your physical level. Also, intervals make a workout more efficient. Studies have shown that doing intervals for about 20 minutes can burn as many, if not more, calories than working out at a moderate pace for an hour.

As with any workout, warm up and cool down before and after pool exercise. Leisurely treading water or swimming for about five minutes will do the trick for an energizing warm-up, and a relaxing cool-down.

No Sweat

Working out in the pool may not be at the forefront of your mind this summer, but by taking as little as two and a half hours a week (not all at once!), as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can really reap the benefits. However, if you are already active, the pool can still be of great value by providing relief to your muscles, joints and tendons.