Swimming works your entire body as you push against the water at every turn. From strength training to cardio and endurance, getting in the pool promises a lot of fitness potential. Plus, swimming goes easy on the joints, so you can burn calories and get your heart pumping without the added discomfort. Studies show that cardiovascular activity helps us stay focused, think more clearly and feel better all around. If you’re looking to jumpstart your cardio routine in your backyard pool, use these tips to get the most out of your workout.
Swim Laps at Various Speeds
It’s important to shake up your cardio routine every few weeks or your body will get used to the exercise and you won’t see the results you were hoping for. Try changing the intensity of your laps by swimming at different speeds. If you push yourself as hard as you can for a short period of time by racing from one end of the pool to the other, your body will burn more calories. This is what’s known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
You can also use this approach if you’re short on time. Most Americans cite their busy schedule and a lack of time as the main reason why they don’t exercise as much as they should. Instead of swimming a few laps at a relaxed pace, try moving as fast as you can in the water for 30 to 60 seconds, resting for around 45 seconds and then repeating the process. You’ll catch your body off guard, forcing it to burn more calories than it normally would.
Change Your Stoke
Another way to adjust your normal cardio routine is to change your stroke. Using a new stroke in the pool forces your body to use different muscles, so you’ll burn more calories and tone your body in new ways. If you want to work your core, you can try doing the butterfly or breaststroke. You’ll feel your body engaging your core as you work your arms and legs at the same time. Focus on these muscles as you move through the water and you’ll see a difference if you stick with it.
You can also use common strokes like the freestyle, or front stroke, to engage your arms and shoulders. If you want to work one arm at a time, try the sidestroke, which means turning on your side in the water and using one arm to move forward.
Focus on Your Legs
Your legs are the largest muscles in the body. You’ll need them for just about any cardio workout you can think of. If you want to tone your legs, burn calories and build endurance, you can try isolating your legs in the water. Get a plastic kickboard and hang on to it in the water as you kick your legs as fast as you can. This forces your body to depend solely on your legs as you move around the pool. If you don’t have a kickboard, you can also place your back against the wall of the pool with your hands holding onto the edge. Then, lift your legs and let them float in the water. Now, just start kicking to feel the burn. You can use a timer to push yourself instead of counting laps. It’s also a great choice if your upper body is sore from weight training.
Water Resistance Training
Getting a workout in the pool doesn’t always mean swimming and kicking your legs. You can burn calories, build endurance and tone your body by completing a range of exercises you might normally do at the gym–except now you’re underwater. You can try doing underwater crunches to work your core and abdominal muscles.
To get started, lie in the water perpendicular to the edge of the pool. Place your legs and knees on the cement or pool deck if you have an inground pool. Put your legs over the edge for above ground pools. Now, your upper body should be floating in the water. Start doing crunches by letting your upper body sink into the water and lifting yourself up again. The water creates added resistance, which forces your core and abdominal muscles to work harder than usual.
You can also try lifting small dumbbells and stretching your body underwater to work your muscles in new ways. Again, the water puts added pressure on your muscles as you pull your arms and legs or a weight through the pool. Repeat the movement in rapid succession to build endurance and turn your weight training routine into a cardio free-for-all.
Running in Place
Running is a cardio staple for most people looking to lose weight and stay active, but you can challenge your body and make the most of your time to exercise by running in the pool. Just stand in the water and jog in place to get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. You’ll feel the difference right away as your body deals with the added resistance from the water. You’ll burn more calories with every step you take than you would if you were on dry land. For extra resistance, try holding some light dumbbells in your hands or attach some ankle weights. You can also practice lunges or simply raise your knee to your chest in the water if you’re looking for something milder.
You can turn your pool into a cardio-lover’s paradise by switching up your normal routine and completing a range of exercises in the water. From pool chemicals to regular maintenance, you work hard to keep your pool in great shape. Now, make the most of this addition to your home by treating it like an at-home gym. You’ll feel better, stay sharp and you don’t have to worry about trekking to the gym every time you want to get active. Try new things in the water and burn some calories today.