Land Vs. Water
Exercise activities in a fitness studio are dependent upon interacting with the downward forces of gravity. In water exercise, the majority of the body is submerged in water and therefore acted on by the upward forces of buoyancy. Gravity and buoyancy are opposite forces and that makes land and water fitness complimentary of each other. Aquatic fitness professionals should strive to maximize the water’s properties, as opposed to recreating a land workout in water. One of those properties is buoyancy.
Buoyancy & Impact
The uplifting forces of buoyancy reduces or eliminates impact on feet, ankles, knees and hips during water fitness activities, allowing people to exercise more vigorously without pain or joint discomfort. This is a huge reason why many people choose water exercise as their preferred fitness activity. The preferred position in shallow water exercise is chest depth, in which impact is reduced to 25-35% of body weight. At this depth, form and alignment can still be maintained during exercise. Submerging to neck depth would completely eliminate impact, however buoyancy would lift the body up onto the toes sacrificing form and alignment. Experienced exercisers learn how to lower their shoulders into the water from chest depth by flexing through the hips and knees while performing higher impact moves, such as jumping jacks and cross-country skis. This impact reduction technique is referred to as neutral or Level II position.
Buoyancy & Exercise Creativity
Thanks to buoyancy, more intense and athletic exercises, such as running, jumping and plyometrics are possible thanks to reduced impact. The upward forces of buoyancy will hold a body off the pool floor for a period of time, providing creative options for water fitness activities. However, all bodies are different, and some people may have more natural buoyancy than others. Dense, muscular body types will struggle to stay afloat for longer periods of time. WATCH: How to maximize buoyancy in water fitness workouts.
This 48-minute pool workout is broken into four segments and includes a warm-up and cool down. Three water specific techniques are applied to nine different exercises in a timed interval format.
Technique #1: Power
Powering a move in the water involves forcefully tucking the knees and/or bounding the move off the pool floor. In a jumping jack, the knees would forcefully jump or tuck in and out. This would be brutally high impact on land but is doable in the water. Water exercisers can consider performing the move in Level II position if the impact is still too much. Powering moves uses more muscles and creates a much higher cardio response.
Technique #2: Elevate
Elevating a move requires removing the feet off the pool floor for a portion of the exercise. This technique is similar to plyometric jumps on land, which is a training technique for athletes, but pretty much risky for everyone else. Elevating moves in the water is much less risky thanks to buoyancy. However, those with joint impact issues should take precautions or avoid them. Elevating a jumping jack would resemble a straddle jump. Think cheerleader!
Technique #3: Suspend
Suspending a move requires keeping the feet off the pool floor for an extended period of time. This technique would be virtually impossible on land. Suspended moves are only possible in the water and should be included in pool workouts to create an authentic aquatic fitness experience. However, participants who lack swim skills will want to avoid suspending moves.
Segment 1: Warm-Up
The warm-up features a preview of all nine exercises that will be performed in the workout.
Segment 2: Greatest HIITs #1
Cross-country skis, jumping jacks and a jack-ski combo are the first three exercises. This segment introduces a standard timed format for each segment.
Base Move introduced: 15 seconds
Power: 45 seconds
Elevate: 30 seconds
Suspend: 30 seconds
After all three exercises are performed with this timed format, a “lighting round” is performed and each of the three base moves is reintroduced for 15 seconds of powering, elevating and suspending action.
Segment 3: Greatest HIITs #2
This segment features front repeater kicks, side repeater kicks and a combo repeater (front-side-front). All three exercises are then put into the timed interval template.
Segment 4: Greatest HIITs #3
The three water specific techniques are then applied to jumps, moguls and a combo move of jumps and moguls.
Segment 5: Greatest HIITs Finale
It is impossible for me to do a pool workout without staging a grand finale. In this case, it is a fast-paced lighting round that features a water-specific progression of all nine exercises for 15 seconds each. Fasten your seatbelt, because this segment MOVES!
Segment 6: Cool Down
A rhythmic stretch is performed based on the exercises performed in the workout.
As instructors slowly resume classes around the world, I was inspired to develop a workout that would remind returning students of how much they love water exercise and how good it feels to be back in the pool, moving in ways that could never be possible on land. Enjoy this splashy tribute to water fitness.
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.