August 18, 2009
And landlubbers, give up the notion that strength training and cardio are best done on terra firma.
Aqua aerobics, or aquatic fitness, is no longer the domain of people recovering from injuries, trying to exercise despite limited abilities or struggling with chronic conditions such as arthritis.
We asked three aquatic fitness experts for their favorite pool exercises that can be added to lane swims, or done on their own.
Masters swim coach, Equinox:
1 For a good cardio exercise that gets the blood flowing and also works the leg muscles, begin by resting your arms on a water noodle placed around your back in a C-shape. Bend your body at the hips in a V, so the feet are at the surface. Make sure your core is tight, and legs are straight with toes pointed. Holding tension in the leg muscles, cross the feet back and forth at the ankles, just below the surface of the water. Do it as briskly as you can. Start with 1½ minutes and gradually work up to about 5 minutes.
2 Deck push-ups are great for the shoulders, back and arms. Stand by the side of the pool facing the pool's edge, with hands shoulder-width apart, about chest-high on the deck. Push down through the palms and, with a little jump, come out of the water so that your hips are even with the deck. Hold that position for a couple of seconds, then lower slowly.
Master trainer, 24 Hour Fitness:
1 This exercise uses buoys to work the obliques and back extensors: Stand in chest-high water with legs shoulder-width apart. Holding a buoy in each hand, bend to the left and take the buoy toward the knee. This forces the obliques to contract, and works the back extensors. Do 20 repetitions on each side.
2 Another good move that targets the hip flexors, glutes, quads and inner and outer thigh muscles is called a clam-digger. With a noodle behind your back, lie on it with arms extended, and angle your body to one side. With knees together, one on top of the other, bend the legs. Keeping the feet together, open the top knee, then bring knees together again. Flip over and do the same on the other side. Repeat 20 times on each side.
Water aerobics instructor, YMCA:
1 For a cardio boost, try tuck jumps. Start by having your feet on the bottom of the pool, water about chest-high. Push off the bottom and go into a tuck position, bringing your hands to your shins, like you're doing a cannonball. If you pull your arms down hard, you'll feel it. Then release the arms as the feet shoot down to the bottom. It's better to do this quickly to get your heart rate up. Consider this interval training -- do it for a minute or two minutes, gradually increasing the time.
2 For a faux cycling workout, put the noodle between your legs for buoyancy and move your legs as if you were pedaling. You can move your arms in a breast stroke or a paddling motion, and even cycle backward. Even if you are a cyclist, doing this in the water uses slightly different muscle groups.
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