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Get in Shape in Your Own Backyard with These Pool Exercises



Women with dumbells in the pool

Pool exercises are a terrific way to stay in shape while you’re spending extra time at home. As long as your pool is maintained correctly, it’s a safe place to add some variety to your at-home workout during the current stay-at-home mandates. Plus, water workouts aren’t only fun, they’re effective, too.

Did you know that water is at least 12% more resistant than air, and a half-hour water workout has nearly identical benefits to a two-hour workout on land? Even elite athletes can benefit from pool exercises. You aren’t limited to swimming laps either. There are countless aquatic exercises to help you meet your fitness goals.

Here are ten of our favorite pool exercises to keep you fit. As with any type of fitness, make sure to exercise responsibly and avoid overexertion.

Aquatic Exercises for All Your Fitness Goals

For each of these exercises, we recommend doing the number of reps that matches your current fitness level. To make them more challenging, you can also add floatable water weights, which are specifically designed for use in the pool; simply hold them in your hands (instead of strapping them on) as you perform these various exercises.

  1. Pool Jogging – Pool jogging burns around seventeen calories a minute while simultaneously building muscles. The resistance of the water helps build muscles while the jogging burns calories and fat. This type of jogging works your legs and glutes and is much easier on joints than running on land.
  2. Resistance Running – To do this exercise, run from one end of the pool in a zig-zag pattern to the other. Then, turn around and run straight through those currents you just created. Repeat as many times as you’d like. This is a high-intensity aqua aerobics exercise that offers an excellent cardio workout.
  3. Ball Running – Take a standard, inflatable pool ball and hold it with both hands just beneath the surface of the water, against your stomach. Then run from one side of the pool to the other. Holding the ball engages your core while the running gets your cardio in.
  4. Leg Kicks – Holding onto the side of the pool, you can do a variety of kicks, including scissor kicks, flutter kicks, breaststroke kicks, dolphin kicks and more. These kicks work your core, glutes, quadriceps and hips, making them a fantastic lower-body workout. Do a combination of several sets for a more challenging workout.
  5. Pool Plank – In the shallow end of the pool, stand with your arms extended straight down from your chest in push-up position holding a pool noodle or inflatable ball. Keeping your toes on the pool floor, slowly lean forward, pushing the noodle or ball and lowering your upper body until you reach about a 45-degree angle. The noodle/ball will submerge more as you plank. Keep your arms straight and hold this position for several seconds. Then, relax and repeat.
  6. Water Jumping Jacks – Standing in chest-high water, do sets of jumping jacks to work your upper and lower body.
  7. Squats and Lunges – In the shallow end of the pool, perform squats and lunges just like you would on land, except jump out of the water at the end for extra explosive training.
  8. Dips – Using the side of the pool, press yourself up and out of the water as if you were lifting yourself out of the pool, keeping your body straight, and lower yourself back down again. You can do this facing out to work your biceps and shoulders, or facing towards the pool to work your triceps.
  9. Curls, Raises and Flies – Try any three of these popular arm workouts using the water for resistance.

    Underwater Bicep Curls – Firmly plant your feet hip-width apart in the shallow end of the pool. You want the water to be about shoulder-level, so you might have to get on your knees. With your palms facing forward and your arms to your sides, bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Then, curl your arms up and down to perform a basic bicep curl. If you cup your hands while curling, the water will add a bit of resistance. For a more challenging workout, add water dumbbells.

    Raises – Standing in water up to your shoulders, hold your arms at your side. Keeping them straight, raise your arms up until they’re at shoulder level (at the pool’s surface). Lower your arms back to your side. Repeat several times per set, adding water dumbbells for more resistance. Switch up the muscles you’re working by rotating your palms to face upwards as you raise your arms, and downwards as you lower them.

    Chest Flies – In the shallow end, take a staggered stance with one leg in front and one behind and lower down to a lunge position with the front knee bent and your other leg stretched behind you. Lean slightly forward so that your arms and shoulders are submerged in the water. Holding your arms outstretched to your sides (like an airplane), bend them slightly with your palms facing inwards (or hold water dumbbells for more intensity). Push your arms together until your hands meet and then back to your starting position, keeping your arms bent to work your biceps and chest. Repeat several times.
  10. Reverse Crunches – To work the lower abs, wrap a pool noodle around your upper back, underneath your arms and lean back so your legs are floating parallel to the pool floor. Grab the ends of the noodle with your hands. Once you’re comfortably floating, tighten your ab muscles, straighten your legs and point your toes, then bend your knees and pull them to your chest. Hold for a few seconds, and then return to the pointed toe position. Repeat this movement for several reps.

Stay Fit with Pool Exercises

While your regular fitness routine is probably affected right now, you can still stay in shape with these ten pool exercises. Who knows? You may discover that you actually prefer working out in your pool over going to the gym.