Cardio Toning with Water Exercise Discs

Tuesday, July 02 2019

Water exercise foam discs are not as widely used in the USA as they are abroad, but they are worth taking a peak at because they offer more versatility by providing creative ways to target lower body and core, as well as upper body. 


Belgium aqua instructor, Tessa Van De Walle shares her favorite aqua disc exercises in the video, Cardio Sculpt Interval.  The workout includes a warm-up, cool down and four segments using one and two discs in innovative ways that target arms, legs and core. 


The water exercise discs used in this video are made of foam and therefore create buoyant resistance when pushed downwards into the upwards forces of buoyancy.  Any movement directed towards the pool bottom with the disc features a shortening, concentric muscle action.  Allowing the disc to slowly and with control return back towards the surface would be a lengthening, eccentric muscle action.  Keep in mind, when using no equipment or drag equipment, all movement is resisted in all directions and therefore all muscle actions are concentric.   One of the benefits of introducing buoyant (foam) equipment is the ability to generate eccentric (lengthening) muscle actions in the pool.   


Pushing and pulling the discs horizontally in the water would negate buoyant resistance and instead manifest drag resistance.  In this equation, all horizontal movement with the discs would be resisted and concentric; the same as using no equipment or drag equipment.  Compared to foam dumbbells (hand buoys), the discs have greater surface area when presented to the water horizontally.  The hand buoys create less frontal resistance when pushed and pulled horizontally due to their uneven shape and smaller surface area. 


Hand buoys must be held in the hands and therefore are limited to upper body and some core training.  Hand buoys can create issues with gripping when they are used as a pair and held in each hand.  However, some Fitmotivation videos have addressed this issue, including Hand Buoy Solutions, Hand Buoy ABCs, and Deep Buoy Endurance
The water exercise discs provide their own gripping solutions by providing more options for placing the hands.  The hands are placed through the opening in the center of the discs which allows for less gripping.  The flat surface of the discs also allows for a more open-hand placement during select movements.  The biggest advantage of the discs over hand buoys is that the flat surface also allows for creative lower body and core exercises by placing the feet on the discs. 


The Beco Aqua Discs used in this video are not available in the USA but are available in most other countries.  The Kiefer Water Exercise Discs are the most popular and commonly used brand in the USA.  The Kiefer discs are typically priced between $10 - $15 per pair and are currently available in the Fitmotivation Marketplace, sold via Amazon (includes Amazon Prime).

Fitmotivation strives to mostly feature videos that utilize equipment commonly found in pool areas, such as noodles and hand buoys.  However, occasionally we like to show other affordable equipment so that instructors and facilities are fully informed of all options.  Any modifications of the video exercises using hand buoys should be carefully thought out.  Some of the upper body movements can be performed with smaller hand buoys; some cannot.  Almost all of the lower body and core exercises cannot be modified as it would require stepping on the hand buoys and that is NOT recommended.



Segment 1:   Warm-up

Cardio respiratory movements are used to increase thermal warmth and rhythmic stretching is incorporated to prepare the body for exercise.

Segment2:  Arms/ 1 Disc

One disc is held or ‘palmed’ for pushing, pulling and pressing movements for the upper body.

Segment 3:  Abs & Legs/ 1 Disc
The movements get more creative here as one disc is used with one leg and then progressed to both legs.  The single disc is also placed between the knees for some killer core action.
Segment 4:  Arms/ 2 Discs
Both discs are used in this segment for pushing, pulling and pressing movements that target upper body.
Segment 5:  Legs/ 2 Discs

Get ready for a grand finale of core and lower body action using both discs, first to step on and later to place both hands on. 
Segment 6:  Cool Down

Rhythmic movements are used to bring the workout to an end. 


Fitmotivation offers BIG THANKS Tessa Van De Walle for sharing her disc routine during our Brussels video shoot in March 2019.  Tessa teaches for Aqua & Move in Belgium, along with other Aqua & Move instructors familiar to Fitmotivation viewers, including Martine Flamen, Carine Van den Berghe and Wim Van Lancker



Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.