Tuesday, July 02 2019

The above video preview is for Aquatic Muscle Mix, posted on 10/9/16

Mix up the equipment in your classes and incorporate some Tabata timing for a different approach to muscular strength & endurance training in the pool.   USA Aqua Expert, Danita Watkins, demonstrates four different segments in her video, Aquatic Muscle Mix – including Aqua Strength drag equipment, noodles, rubberized resistance and webbed gloves.

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. 

Adding equipment into a class changes the muscle outcome and adds progressive resistance, which requires the body to adapt and become stronger.  And if you have already been consistently using equipment, consider spicing up the training format with some structured Tabata timing/rounds.   In this video, Danita demonstrates how linear training with noodles, gloves and rubberized equipment can be enhanced with work and recovery cycles. 

Aquatic Muscle Mix includes four segments, featuring four different types of equipment. 

Webbed gloves are considered a form of drag equipment and when including them in a workout, the muscle outcome is virtually the same as using no equipment at all.   Movement is resisted in all planes and in all directions.  The gloves simply increase the resistance.  Since all movement is resisted, all muscle actions are concentric, where the muscle shortens to move the load.   With or without gloves, this “all-resisted” movement is one of the biggest sells of aquatic fitness because it means the muscles are worked in pairs around the joint, promoting joint integrity and muscle balance.  The only thing missing in this equation is eccentric muscle actions, where the muscle lengthens to move the load.  Some fitness pundits claim that training muscles eccentrically can enhance overall muscle growth, among other benefits.  Eccentric muscle actions can be achieved by including buoyant, weighted and rubberized equipment in your classes.

Weighted equipment provides an opportunity for eccentric muscle training and would counter balance buoyant equipment perfectly by targeting the opposite muscles.  Unfortunately, weighted equipment for the water is not very common and therefore most facilities do not have it.  Rubberized equipment is more common and a bit more affordable to purchase.  Whether tubing, flat bands or ankle weights, the muscle actions for rubberized equipment are the same in water as they are on land.  By adding rubberized equipment into your classes, you are targeting muscles that are missed with foam/buoyant equipment with both concentric and eccentric muscle actions.  Concentric muscle actions occur when moving the rubberized resistance away from the anchor point and eccentric muscle actions occur when movement returns back towards the anchor point.  Rubberized and weighted equipment works best with movements that feature flexion and abduction, targeting shoulders, biceps, outer thigh and hip flexors. Movements that feature extension and adduction target lats, triceps, glutes, hamstrings and outer thigh and work best with buoyant equipment.  

Noodles can be used for resistance and they can also be used for neutral buoyancy and support.   If used for resistance, the movement trajectory is vertical or up and down.  The buoyant vector is vertical, as is the gravity vector, however resisted movement with buoyancy is downwards and resisted movement with gravity is upwards.    Therefore, movements downward are concentric, shortening muscle actions and movements upwards are eccentric and lengthening.  Caution should be advised as the trend in pool facilities these days is towards the larger, denser noodles.  Older, more deconditioned students have a heck of a time working with these denser noodles.  A supply of less dense, cheaper noodles should be kept on hand.

The muscle outcome here is the same as using webbed gloves or no equipment at all.  Once again, movement is resisted in all planes, in all directions and muscle contractions are primarily concentric.  The size and shape of the Aqua Strength upper body equipment clearly manifests more resistance than the webbed gloves.  Larger surface area increases resistance and the shaping of the equipment generates more turbulence and thus intensity.  Due to the increased surface area, movement will likely have to be to be slowed to a more controlled pace.  This equipment is ideal for muscle conditioning and endurance training as it provides optimal drag resistance.

Thanks once again to Danita Watkins for sharing another video with Fitmotivation video subscribers.   Check out the Fitmotivation Video Interview for more details on this video and Boot Camp Flow, which was posted in September.  To find out more about Danita or to host her CEC approved workshops, please visit her website, WatkinsAquaticFitness.com.

Stay tuned as more equipment use is coming your way in November & December, including hand buoys and weighted balls.

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.