Pool Noodle Leg Exercises

Thursday, August 10 2023

Treat your aquatic fitness class participants to leg day in the pool. This 20-minute pool noodle workout recreates typical leg exercises performed in the gym, such as squats, stair master, lunges, leg extensions and more. 



Leg Day is the perfect video to consider when you want to add some leg training with noodles into your regular classes. This workout targets all of the major muscle groups of the lower body, including hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quads and inner and outer thigh. 

Leg Day is an express video and so there is no warm-up included. The content is meant to be included in one of your regular classes. However, there is a quick stretch tutorial at the end for each muscle group. 
Segment 1:  Noodle Buoyant Resistance
In this segment, one or both feet are placed on the noodle in order to in order to train the legs with buoyant resistance.  Buoyancy is the opposite of gravity. When doing a single leg press, also referred to as a lunge, hip extension is resisted and hip flexion is assisted. The glutes are the targeted muscle with hip extension. Therefore, it is concentric, resisted glutes as the foot is pressed down and eccentric, assisted glutes as the foot lifts back up. 
Advanced: This video is more suitable for advanced participants, because stepping on a noodle with both feet requires coordination. Additionally, the squats and stair master exercises should be avoided in crowded classes. If a participant loses their footing, the noodle can shoot up and out of the water.

Segment 2: Neutral Buoyancy
In the final half of this video, the noodle is placed behind the back for neutral buoyancy.  Doing so allows class members to position their body in different angles for more effective targeting of the leg muscles. A reclined position allows for greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes.  An inclined position provides better opportunities to target the quads and glutes. The neutral buoyancy provided by the noodle also allows for super sets that alternate between seated and vertical position. 
Watch Mark talk more about Leg Day below and read more education and tips related to this video. 



The larger the diameter of the noodle, the more the density. Typical Dollar Store noodles are smaller in diameter and typically have a hole in them. The hole in the middle makes them flimsier. Larger diameter noodles are harder to find in stores.  But they can be purchased online. The HYDRO-FIT noodles are a popular large noodle and they do not have a hole in the center. For fitness activities, consider solid-core noodles, such as the Sprint Noodle, which is an example of a smaller/medium size noodle without the hole in the center.

These leg exercises can be done in both deep and shallow water. When doing single leg pressing moves, the non-noodle supporting leg will move in deep water. If you teach these exercises in shallow water, encourage class members to be in a deeper depth, such as upper chest level. Otherwise they won’t have the range of motion to press the noodle downwards. 

In the video, I am going back and forth from deep water to shallow water so that I can demonstrate how the exercise is modified between touching and not touching.  Therefore, because I am in deep water, I am wearing a flotation belt. The Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), my certification organization, recommends that a flotation belt always be worn in deep water for safety reasons.

Leg Day provides some fun leg and noodle exercises to add into your classes. Stay tuned, another express video will post next week. Joint Tune Up is a 15 minute shallow water routine that includes 24 AEA Arthritis Foundation exercises for promoting flexibility and range of motion in all of the major joints.    

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.