The Best Pool Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

Woman Swimming In Pool
Photo: Getty Images

Ready to make a splash? This pool workout has a ton of swimming exercises and water aerobics exercises—and not a single lap is required.

01 of 09

Dive In and Try These Effective Pool Exercises


Why fry in scorching summer temps when one of the best ways to tone up can be found below the water's surface? "The key is that water offers heavy resistance," says Igor Porciuncula, the cofounder of Boot Camp H20 in Los Angeles—12 times the resistance of air, to be exact. That means these pool exercises engage more muscle fibers and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Best part? You don't need to know how to churn out laps to get a solid workout in the pool. (If laps are more your speed, try one of these swimming workouts for every level instead.)

How to do this pool workout: Do Porciuncula's pool exercise circuit twice through for strong arms, abs, and thighs.

You'll need: a kickboard

02 of 09

Aqua Teaser

This Pilates-inspired water aerobics move targets your shoulders, abs, and arms — plus, you get the extra challenge of working to tread water.

A. Standing in shallow end, simultaneously sit back into the water, treading with hands out to sides, and lift both legs together so that you fold at hips to create a wide V shape. Head and toes should be just above the surface.

B. Quickly bring knees to chest or bring legs as straight as you can toward chest to make V less wide.

C. Extend legs to return to V position.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Continue treading with hands for 1 minute.

Make this pool exercise easier: Skip knee tuck and simply hold V position for 1 minute.

03 of 09

Pool-Edge Side Burpee

You may hate burpees on land, but trust, they're much more enjoyable as a water aerobics move. Plus, this pool exercise will get your heart rate up without the high impact of burpees.

A. In the deep end, hold on to edge of pool with right hand so that body is perpendicular to edge.

B. Tuck knees into chest to place both feet flat (right stacked above left) against pool wall, as high as possible.

C. Maintaining hand grip throughout the pool exercise, jump feet off the wall and extend legs, engaging abs to bring body as parallel to surface as possible, as if in a side-plank position (left hip now stacked above right).

D. Return to tuck and continue for 1 minute.

Do for 1 minute on each side. (See how to do a burpee—the right way.)

04 of 09

Water Taxi

For a full-body challenge, try this water aerobics move with a kickboard. You'll feel this in your arms, core, and hip as you fight the water's resistance to move across the pool.

A. Sit on the kickboard with knees together, legs dangling or skimming bottom of pool.

B. Extend arms in front of you, palms facing away from each other, then sweep arms out to sides (as if doing a breaststroke).

C. Continue stroking across pool for 30 seconds, then switch stroke to go in opposite direction.

D. Bring arms out to sides with palms facing forward, elbows slightly bent, then sweep arms together in front of you.

E. Continue for 30 seconds, squeezing shoulder blades throughout the pool exercise as you push forward and back.

Do for a total of 1 minute; 30 seconds for each direction.

05 of 09

Tombstone Kick

By using the kickboard in an upright position, you'll challenge your body with added resistance. If you're comfortable, dip your face in the water as you kick, turning your head to the side to breathe.

A. With back to edge of pool, hold the kickboard with both hands so that it's vertical (rounded edge up) and half of it is below the surface of the water.

B. Push off wall with feet, holding the kickboard in tombstone position, and kick as hard as you can toward opposite side of pool.

Continue for 1 minute.

Make this pool exercise harder: Hold the kickboard horizontally and completely submerged.

06 of 09

Dolphin Tail

If you ever played mermaids as a kid on summer break, this water aerobics move is for you. It targets your core and legs as you fight to keep moving for the full minute.

A. Tread water in deep end of pool, arms out to sides and legs extended beneath you.

B. Engaging abs, squeeze legs together and sweep them backward, bending knees slightly, then quickly extend them forward (like a dolphin's tail). Counterbalance motion by sweeping arms through water in opposite direction of legs.

Continue for 1 minute.

Pool exercise tip: Your whole body should crack like a whip; initiate the movement from your core, not your legs.

07 of 09

Underwater Row and Biceps Curl

No weights? No problem — add this water aerobics move to your pool workout for an upper-body burn.

A. In rib-deep or waist-deep water, stand with feet wide, grasping each end of the kickboard with thumbs on top.

B. Hinge forward from hips 45 degrees, keeping back flat and elbows bent by sides so that board is in front of chest.

C. Push the kickboard diagonally down under water, extending arms and squeezing abs.

D. Bend elbows to scoop board back up to chest like a biceps curl.

Continue for 1 minute.

Pool exercise tip: Splash as little as possible to ensure you're focusing on your core and arms.

08 of 09

Vertical Breaststroke

This advanced water aerobics move requires you to tread water with your hands over your head to target your core.

A. Treading water in deep end, grasp each end of the kickboard and hold it above your head.

B. Extend legs below you.

C. Flexing feet, bend knees to bring heels toward butt and quickly press legs down and diagonally outward to thrust body out of water a bit, toes pointed.

D. Extend legs below you; repeat.

Continue for 1 minute.

Make this pool exercise easier: If holding the kickboard overhead is too difficult, just raise hands above head or let them float by sides.

09 of 09

Deck Triceps Dip

Take your tricep dip poolside with this water aerobics move.

A. Begin with back facing side wall of pool and place palms on edge behind you, fingertips facing forward.

B. Bend left knee to place left foot flat against wall and raise straight right leg to hip height in front of you.

C. Straighten arms to lift out of water (similar to a land-based triceps dip); lower to start.

Do 10 reps for each leg.

Make this pool exercise easier: Keep both knees bent and both feet flat on wall. (If your booty scrapes the edge, you can also do this in corner of pool.)

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