Hand Buoy vs. Drag Belle

Tuesday, October 25 2022

Drag & Buoy with Chris LaCour is a 45-minute class format that targets cardio, core, balance and more with both drag and buoyant resistance, in pairs and unilaterally. Gain a better understanding of the difference between drag and buoyant resistance and take away progressions of movement that challenge cardio, core strength and balance.

Fitmotivation subscribers who like the more advanced workouts will be excited that Chris is back with more S’WET inspired challenges. S’WET is a New York City-based water fitness organization that was founded by Chris’s wife, Jenni Lynn Patterson LaCour.  The two of them have filmed several videos for Fitmotivation, many of which are subscriber favorites.  Chris has an interesting back story into how he got into teaching aquatic fitness classes in Manhattan.  Watch the Fitmotivation Five Year Anniversary video with Chris and Jenni Lynn to learn more about it. 

Blog summary

  • Explore the difference between drag and buoyant resistance and equipment
  • Take a quick look workout-at-a-glance and the working segments
  • Details on music used in the video
  • Watch a fun behind the scenes videos of Jenni and Chris's most recent filming fun
  • Learn how you can become a S'WET certified instructor

Drag Resistance
Utilizing drag equipment is the same muscle-action outcome as using no equipment at all. Drag equipment simply increases surface area and thus increases the water’s resistance. Examples of drag equipment include Aqualogix belles and webbed gloves. When using drag equipment or no equipment at all, movement is resisted in all directions and in all planes. Muscle actions occur in pairs. For example, extending your forearm down and up at the elbow joint works both triceps and biceps with concentric, shortening muscle actions.  Submerging in the pool and encountering the water’s resistance in all directions provides a more muscularly balanced and effective workout. The only thing missing are eccentric muscle actions. In drag resistance, there are no eccentric, lengthening muscle actions. You would need to introduce buoyant, rubberized or weighted equipment to obtain eccentric muscle actions. 

Buoyant Resistance
Buoyant equipment, such as foam dumbbells (hand buoys) and noodles is completely different from drag equipment. Class members simply cannot insert hand buoys into a workout that was not designed for their use. Why? First and foremost, some foam dumbbells are large and bulky and cannot be moved in the water like drag equipment without risking injury.  Additionally, buoyant equipment is only resisted in one direction, unlike drag equipment which is resisted in all directions.  Buoyant equipment is resisted by downward movement and assisted with upward movement.  Downward movements are concentric and upward movements are eccentric when using buoyant equipment. For example, when performing elbow flexion and extension, only the triceps is targeted with a concentric, shortening muscle action as the forearm extends down. During the elbow flexion phase of the movement, the triceps is targeted with an eccentric, lengthening muscle action as the forearm moves upward. The bicep is completely uninvolved, and it is really important for an instructor to avoid calling the movement a “bicep curl” when using foam dumbbells.  Training with buoyant equipment may sound less effective than drag equipment, but there are important benefits. Most importantly, you can train certain muscles eccentrically and doing so can build greater strength and help to reduce injury.  Watch Chris talk more about the differences of buoyant and drag resistance.

Two of the working segments in Drag & Buoy utilize a pair of equipment, first a pair of buoys, followed by a pair of drag belles. The same progression of exercises is used in both segments so that you can gain a better understanding of how the resistance differs between the two types of equipment. Both of these working segments are taught with a progression of movement that increases in difficulty while challenging balance.  The first exercise is taught grounded and is then followed by a bounded exercise.  The final exercise is taught on one supporting leg with challenging variations of arm and leg movement that train core stability and balance.  If you are looking for some unique balance training progressions that utilize equipment, you should definitely cherry-pick from the Two Belle & Two Hand Buoy segments. 

The single buoy and belle segments are taught at the pool wall with a progression of movement that challenges both cardio and core.  Once again, the same exercises are taught so that you can gain a better understanding of how the two styles of equipment change the outcome of the exercise. The drag equipment is much more challenging in the suspended exercises because the buoyant equipment helps you float. 

Video Music
The music playlist used in this video is Strength Express 8, which is 128 BPM and available to download for $14.95 at Power Music.

Fitmotivation extends gratitude to Chris for returning to Florida to film another round of videos.  If you are newer to this site and enjoyed this workout, be sure to check out Chris’s other Fitmotivation videos, which include the Extreme Aqua and Dude Move series, among other videos. Watch a fun behind-the-scenes video of Chris and Jenni Lynn in their latest Florida filming adventure, and below that find out how you can become a S’WET certified instructor.

Become a S'WET Certified Instructor
The S’WET™ Instructor Training is a full day of intensive education and practical learning designed to revamp and reinvigorate your aquatic fitness teaching skills. The 8-hour day includes interactive lectures, demonstrations, group exercises and in-pool workouts that will arm you with the ability to incorporate the S’WET™ philosophy and formula for success into your current programming, as well as certify you to teach the in-demand branded workouts we offer at your facility. In addition to increasing awareness and attracting new demographics to your pool, current S'WET squad instructors are having great success with their classes and finding wait lists to get in.  You can see more feedback on our S'WET™ Facebook Page and S'WET™ Instagram Page.  S'WET™ has one mission: To change the perception of Aquatic Fitness. If you have any questions about the S’WET™ Instructor Training, please email Jenni Lynn @ swetcert@gmail.com or check us out online.


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.