5 Pool Workouts for When You’re Sick of the Gym
The appeal of heading to the gym every day to break a sweat comes largely from its convenience. There’s no chance of the weather derailing a workout, there’s access to locker rooms and showers, and the facilities are brimming with every piece of equipment imaginable. The downside is most of us wind up going through the same motions every day, which can lead to boredom and lagging results.
When you need to wake up for your workout, try grabbing a pair of goggles and heading to your nearest pool. Some lucky guys might even belong to a gym that has one on premises. Whether you’re looking to increase endurance, build strength, or just shake things up, one of these workouts will give your routine the boost it needs.
1. Navy SEAL swim workout
Military-inspired workouts have become pretty mainstream with the popularity of obstacle races and bootcamp fitness classes. For some reason, aquatic exercises haven’t been as quick to catch on despite playing a major role in training Navy recruits. Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL Lieutenant, shared a great workout with STACK that even complete beginners can do.
For the starter workout, you’ll swim between 25 and 50 yards, complete 10 push-ups, then 10 repetitions of any type of core exercise. As soon as you finish the core work, jump back in the pool and repeat until you’ve completed 10 full rounds. As you get stronger, you’ll want to increase the length of the swim and the number of repetitions you perform for each strength-training exercise.
2. Aqua HIIT 45/15
Fitness professionals have been going on about the benefits of HIIT training for years. While it’s true these vigorous workouts can get you in killer shape and give you the most fat-burning bang for your buck, they can be hard on your body. People who struggle with joint pain or are recovering from an injury might not be able to take such a pounding.
With this in mind, personal trainer Stephanie Thielen shared an interval pool workout on ACE Fitness that keeps the burn while minimizing stress on your joints. For this workout, you’ll perform each of four exercises for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest before immediately going into the next move. The entire workout consists of three rounds, by which time you should feel very tired.
The specific moves are all variations on plyometric jumping exercises. While each move is relatively easy to perform on land, the added resistance from moving through the water will force your muscles to work harder.
3. Laird Hamilton’s pool workout
That surfer Laird Hamilton looks to the water for his exercises isn’t that unusual. What’s slightly more surprising is his efforts don’t always involve the ocean or a surfboard. Like any other athlete, staying fit for his sport of choice involves a well-rounded approach to exercise that incorporates strength training and cardio. Translation: He takes a set of weights to the pool in this challenging workout he shared with Men’s Journal.
You’ll do a variation of jumping jacks with weights, a few types of weighted swimming that target different muscle groups, and some seriously tough plyometric lunges. Hamilton recommended using rubber-coated weights to avoid rusting and wearing a mask to prevent sucking water up your nose.
4. Jon Jones pool workout
For mixed martial arts athletes, it’s not enough to simply be strong and fast. In order to last through an entire fight, they need a serious amount of endurance. This is why Jon Jones heads to the pool. His trainer, Brandon Gibson, shared one of Jones’ typical workouts with Men’s Fitness. Just grab a pool buoy to get started.
For your warm-up, swim 200 yards using your favorite stroke, followed by 200 yards holding a buoy so you use just your legs, then 200 yards holding the buoy between your legs to use just your arms. For the meat of the workout, you’ll do eight sets of 25-yard freestyle sprints as fast as you can. After sets 1, 3, 5, and 7, hold a plank for 30 seconds. After sets 2, 4, 6, and 8, complete 20 push-ups.
5. Swim a mile
You really will cover a mile over the course of this workout, but not in the way you think. Instead of repeating the same stroke for the entire distance, Bodybuilding.com’s workout has you change things up either every 100 or 200 meters. Because endurance is the name of the game for this workout, it’s a particularly good choice for runners or cyclists trying to maintain fitness while recovering from an injury.
You’ll need a buoy and a kickboard to complete this workout, but most pools should have them available. If you struggle with any of the particular stokes in this lineup, substitute another one you have in your repertoire. Try to keep any rest periods short to get the full cardiovascular benefits.