3 Aqua Fitness Routines You’ll Really Dig

To lead a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to incorporate some physical exercise into your day-to-day routine. Some people like to jog, lift weights, or do yoga. But a powerful workout routine can actually take place in water. Aqua fitness has been around for a while––it’s a great way to get in shape without the grueling, sweaty work of gym equipment. If you’re eager to try out some aqua fitness exercises and even create a routine of your own, read on to learn how to do so.

What Are the Benefits of Aqua Fitness?

Have you ever noticed that simply walking through water is more difficult than walking on land? That’s because of the additional resistance you encounter in the water. With this heightened resistance, you can actually burn more calories and strengthen your muscles better, just by doing the same movements you would outside of water.

For older folks, pregnant women, or people who experience joint pain, aquatic exercise can be an especially great choice. It’s easier on the joints and muscles due to the buoyancy of the water. That means putting less strain on your body while still getting an effective workout.

What Should I Do Before Starting an Aquatic Fitness Routine? 

If you have any health concerns, it’s always best to speak to a medical professional or trained fitness instructor before starting a new routine. No matter your age or physical fitness level, you should also always stretch before exercising to avoid injury. Also, make sure to keep plenty hydrated––you might not realize how much you’re sweating in the water.

What Equipment Do You Need for Aqua Fitness? 

This really depends on the types of exercises you’ll be doing. Sometimes, all you need is a good swimsuit and a pool. But let’s take a look at the equipment that is commonly used in a lot of aqua fitness routines:

  • A swimsuit
  • A kickboard
  • Foam water weights
  • Goggles
  • A swim cap
  • Flippers, hand webs, and other resistance devices
  • Water shoes
  • Swim shorts or other coverups

Aqua Fitness Exercises 

Before we get into establishing a routine, let’s go over a couple of exercises that you will see in these routines. Once you know how to do these exercises, you can use them to build a routine of your own––focusing on certain areas and adjusting the difficulty level as you wish.

Water Walking

Especially for those who are new to aquatic fitness, water walking is a great place to start. Simply walk through water that is about waist-deep. Do your best to walk on the soles of your feet, not your toes. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you go to keep a straight gait and strong core.

Tip: Take it a step further by treading into deeper water. You can also wear hand webs to maximize the resistance while doing the exercise.

Noodle Leg Lift 

This exercise requires a pool noodle. Tie the noodle around your foot or ankle. Use the wall of the pool to steady yourself and keep your back upright; make sure the water is about waist-high. With your arms at your sides, lift your leg straight up. Next, bend your knee so your leg forms a 90-degree angle; then straighten it again.

Water Weight Forearm Lifts 

For this exercise, you’re going to need a pair of water weights––foam weights that are specifically designed for underwater use. Standing in waist-deep water, hold one weight in each hand. With your upper arms and elbows securely at your sides, lift the weights up and down. When going up, face your palms to the water’s surface; on the downward motion, press your palms down. Try to keep your wrists straight. Do these motions 10 to 15 times.

Horizontal Arm Lifts 

This is another exercise that uses foam water weights or foam dumbbells. Move to a part of the pool where the water goes up to your shoulders. Standing straight, with your palms facing inwards, lift your arms up to the side. Imagine creating a T pose with your body. Lower your arms back down to finish the motion.

Jumping Jacks 

This basic exercise can be done in the water as on land. Most of us have done jumping jacks at some point in our lives, but in case you need a refresher: first, stand with your arms down and feet together. Then, jumping, bring your feet out and your arms up over your head. Jump again to bring everything back to the starting position. For the best results, do this in water that is about chest-high.

Deck Dips 

This exercise might be a bit challenging depending on your existing arm and core strength––but why not give it a try? Start by standing with your back to the wall of the pool. Put your hands behind you on the edge, with your fingers facing forward. Place one foot flat against the wall, so your knee is bent. With the other leg horizontally straight in front of you, push yourself up onto the ledge, then lower back down. Switch legs after a few reps.

Tip: If you find this too difficult, ease it up by using both feet as wall support.

Aqua Teaser 

This exercise is similar to a crunch, but with an aquatic twist. Sit back in the water and bend your body, with your legs straight and closed, to create a V shape. Treading your arms to keep yourself afloat, bring your knees to your chest. Return to the starting position to make one rep.

Tip: Stay in the shallow end for this exercise. For an easier version, simply hold the V shape without bending your legs.

Pool Burpee 

This is a good exercise if you don’t mind a bit of a swing. Hold on to the edge of the pool with your left hand. Bring your knees close to your chest and place both feet flat on the wall of the pool, so your whole body is somewhat tucked. 

Still holding on to the edge, jump your feet off of the wall and extend your body to the right; try to make your body somewhat parallel to the surface of the water, stretching out that left arm. After a few reps, repeat with the sides reversed.

Back Wall Glide 

A lot of us have probably done some version of this exercise as kids without even knowing it. Start facing the edge of the pool, holding onto it with both hands. Have your legs bent as deep as you can with your feet against the wall. Then push off from the wall. Extend your body and let yourself glide back as far as you can. Tuck your knees back into your chest, before standing upright and jogging back to the wall.

Leg Kicks 

This is a simple one. Using either the edge of the pool or a kickboard to hold onto, try to keep your body straight and alternate between breaststroke kicks and flutter kicks. You can also incorporate a scissor kick (opening and closing your legs while keeping them straight) and a dolphin kick (keeping your legs closed while rolling your body).

Aqua Fitness Routines 

Now that you’re familiar with these exercises, let’s bring them together in a few different routines. These are sorted by what their main focus is, but you can mix and match exercises based on your needs. Remember to stretch before each exercise and go at your own pace.

Aqua Fitness Routine #1: Strengthen Your Core and Abs

  • Warm-up with water walking for 5 Minutes
  • 1) Deck dips: 20 Reps (10 on each leg)
  • Rest for 30 Seconds
  • 2) Aqua teaser: 15 Reps or 1 Minute
  • Rest for 30 Seconds
  • 3) Pool burpees for 1 Minute
  • Repeat exercises 1-3 three times
  • Cool down with water walking for 5 Minutes

Aqua Fitness Routine #2: Focus on Legs and Hips 

  • Warm-up with water walking for 5 Minutes
  • 1) Noodle Leg Lift: 15 Reps (on each leg)
  • Rest 30 Seconds
  • 2) Back wall glide for 5 to 10 Minutes
  • Rest 60 Seconds
  • 3) Leg kicks for 3 Minutes
  • Rest 30 Seconds
  • Repeat exercises 1-3 three times
  • Cool down with backstroke swimming 4 laps

Aquatic Fitness Routine #3: Focus on the Arms 

  • Warm-up by swimming 4 laps in your desired style
  • 1) Horizontal arm lifts: 15 Reps
  • Rest 30 Seconds
  • 2) Waterweight forearm lifts: 15 Reps
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • 3) Jumping jacks: 15 Reps
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • 4) Deck dips: 10 reps on each leg
  • Rest 30 Seconds
  • Repeat exercises 1-4 three times
  • Cool Down with 5 minutes of water walking

Closing Thoughts 

There are a lot of other ways to create your own aqua fitness routine. Take a look at local pools, gyms, and community centers to see if you can sign up for aquatic fitness classes to get started. If you’re nervous about starting, talk to a fitness instructor or enlist a friend to hit the pool with you. 

Gear up in your best swimsuit, throw on some goggles, and see what you can do! As with any workout, just don’t forget to drink water, stretch properly, and check in on yourself throughout.



Pool Exercises: 8 Great Ways to Get a Full Body Workout in the Water | Healthline

Aquatic exercises | Mayo Clinic

The Best Pool Exercises for a Full Body Workout | Shape