I have been a certified fitness instructor for over 20 years, and I am a huge fan of cross-training. No matter what you usually do for your workout, you will benefit by adding swimming exercises to your routine. Working out in the pool is safer for your body, and you can do it at any fitness level. I also love swimming because it works every muscle in your body, including your heart.
The other thing that I love about swimming exercises is that the whole family can do them. Swimming is a workout that kids love and they will get just as much benefit from it as you will. The best thing you can do for your kids is to introduce them to fun exercise programs that they will enjoy. When children enjoy working out at a young age, they will be more likely to stick with it as adults. And let's face it, none of us ever get enough family time. Jumping in the pool with the kids gives you all of the health benefits of a great workout plus it gives you that valuable family time together.
What Are the Benefits of Swimming Exercises?
There are many benefits to adding swimming exercises to your workout. Swimming is a whole-body workout, and it is also a great form of cardio. You can do it at any age, including children and seniors. Working out in the pool is safer for your joints, and it's excellent for pregnant women and people with injuries. Also, you can do swimming exercises at any fitness level, from beginners to athletes. And on top of all that, it's super fun!
What is Cross Training?
How often should we be working out?
The Mayo Clinic says that adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense cardio every week. Adults should also do strength training at least twice a week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children ages 6 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day. Children should also do an hour of cardiovascular training three times per week and an hour of strength training three times per week. The swimming exercises that we have put together kill two birds with one stone. They allow you to get your strength and aerobic training all in one awesome workout.
How Long Should I Swim to Get a Good Workout?
You can get an excellent cardio workout from swimming just 20 to 30 minutes. If you incorporate resistance swimming exercises, you can train both your heart and your muscles in one workout. An hour in the pool will make you stronger and healthier.
At What Age Should Kids Start Doing Swimming Exercises?
Kids can start doing these swimming exercises as early as age six or seven. You can do our entire workout without letting your head go under the water, so even if they can't swim, kids can do this.
Are Swimming Exercises Better for Cardio or Muscle Toning?
One of the best things about swimming exercises is that they are great for both cardio and muscle toning.
Core Exercises Before You Get in the Pool
You should do these first two swimming exercises outside of the pool on your towel.
Planks are excellent swimming exercises to do before you get into the water. They strengthen your core, chest, shoulders, and quads, which are all the muscles that you use for swimming. Start by laying on your stomach with your toes on the floor and your hands directly under your shoulders. Straighten your arms and push your body up off the floor as if you're doing push-ups. The only thing touching the floor should be your toes and your hands. You want your body to be in a straight line from your heels to your shoulders, with your abs pulled in tight.
Tell your children that they are making their bodies into a stiff piece of wood, or a plank. You can also pretend that your lower back and your belly button are powerful magnets pulling toward each other. For beginners, you should hold the plank position for 10 to 15 seconds and then rest. As you get stronger, you will be able to plank for longer. Try to maintain the body position for 30 seconds. Taking rests in between, you should do the plank three to five times, making sure that you're using proper technique. It's better to do just one perfect plank than to do 10 with sloppy form.
Lower back strengthener
These swimming exercises focus on the muscles in your lower back, butt, and hamstrings. They're also excellent for your posture. Start by laying flat on your stomach with your legs and feet together, and your arms stretched up over your head, palms faced down. Lift your right arm and your left leg off the floor and hold for 10 seconds. Then lower back down and repeat using your left arm and your right leg. Keep your arms and legs straight as you lift them off the floor.
You can make this exercise more advanced by lifting both arms and both legs at the same time. Hold the position for at least 10 seconds, squeezing your back and butt muscles. When I work with children, I tell them to pretend that they're Superman flying. You should repeat this movement 5 to 10 times with rest in between. When you finish with the exercise, roll over onto your back and pull your knees into your chest and tuck your chin to meet your knees, curling up like a ball, to stretch the muscles you just worked.
The Best Swimming Exercises for the Whole Family
These are our favorite six swimming exercises. You can do them individually, or you can put them all together into a circuit for a killer full body workout.
Tricep dips and push-ups
These swimming exercises work your upper body and your core. Start by standing in water about chest-deep with your hands on the edge of the pool a little wider than your shoulders, elbows bent. Tighten your abdominal muscles and use your arms to straighten your elbows and push your body up out of the water. You want to try to do the movement without using your legs at all so don't push off with your feet. Just allow your legs to be like dead weights as you use your upper body strength to lift and lower your body. Do 10 to 20 reps for one set, and work up to three of them. Try to do these water push-ups slowly so that you don't allow momentum to do the work.
To work your triceps, turn around and stand with your back to the wall. Place your hands behind you on the edge of the pool with your fingers pointed toward your body. Let your elbows bend at about 90 degrees behind you faced away from your body. Before you start the exercise, you want your biceps parallel to the ground. Keeping your back close to the wall, use your arms to straighten your elbows and push your body out of the water. Slowly lower down to the starting position and repeat 10 to 20 times, take a rest, and then repeat for two more sets. Just like with the water push-ups, you want to let your legs be like dead weight, so all of the work is done by your arms. Don't push off with your feet!
The kick drill swimming exercises work your legs, butt, core, and cardiovascular system. Start at one end of the pool holding a kickboard in front of you with straight arms. The board should be half out of the water, half under, with the rounded edge up to give you some resistance. Tighten your core and use just your legs to flutter kick to the other side of the pool and back. For the second set, do dolphin kicks across the length of the water and back. Then for the third set do frog kicks to the other side and back. One full circuit will be six lengths of the pool, using all three different kick drills. As you get stronger, you can work up to two to three circuits, with rest in between.
To make these swimming exercises more fun for the kids try racing to each end of the pool. You can also do these kick drills using a pool noodle or beach ball. The idea is to do all of the work your legs and core. You should try to kick hard and fast.
Water running, or aqua jogging is an excellent cardio workout without all of the strain on your knees and joints that you get when running outside of the pool. You can do these swimming exercises in the shallow end. You should be able to touch the bottom with your head out of the water. If you stand in chest-deep water, you will get more resistance while you're running. Drive your knees up as high as you can while you run and pump your arms the way you would if you were running on a track.
You can run in place, or you can run back and forth the width of the pool. If you do this exercise correctly, you will get your heart pumping, and you will also work the muscles in your arms, legs, and core. For a fun variation, you can also run backward. Try running the width of the pool forward and then run backward back to the starting position. You should water run for at least five minutes.
Water crunches are one of our favorite swimming exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles. They work like regular crunches on the ground, but they have the added benefit of water resistance. Start with your calves and feet on the edge of the pool and float on your back with your body perpendicular to the wall. With your hands behind your head, curl your torso up as high as you can out of the water, pulling your stomach in tight. Then lower back to the starting position. You should do around 20 crunches per set, working up to three of them.
Leg and core toner
The leg and core toner swimming exercises work your quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, outer thighs, hip flexors, and core. You do this movement in four counts. Start with your back and butt pressed against the pool wall with your legs together and straight down. Place your arms out the sides and hold on firmly to the edge of the pool. On count one bring both legs straight up together until they are perpendicular to the wall and bent at the hip at around 90 degrees. Keeping your legs straight, straddle them out the side as wide as you can, keeping your thighs parallel to the floor of the pool on count two. On three bring your legs back together. And then lower them back to the starting position on count four.
Be sure to keep your core engaged, and your back pressed firmly into the wall. Doing all four movements counts as one toner. You should do 10 to 20 of them for each set, working up to three of them.
Another of our favorite swimming exercises are the jumping squats. They work all of the muscles in your lower body, your core, and your cardiovascular system. Start standing in the shallow end of the pool with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down like you're sitting on an imaginary chair, allowing your butt to point toward the wall behind you and your knees to bend at 90 degrees. You want to keep your knees lined up directly above your ankles. Then explode out of the water, jumping as high as you possibly can. Repeat 10 to 20 times for one set, working up to three.
You can make these swimming exercises even more fun for the kids by allowing your head to bob under the water as you squat. Be sure to keep your stomach pulled in tight and your back straight throughout the exercise. You can also do the jumping squats with your feet together. Try alternating between a jumping squat with feet together and one with feet apart.
Putting It All Together
Okay, now it's time for the fun part, putting it all together. When I teach these swimming exercises, I like to put them into a circuit that both works all of the muscles in your body and keeps your heart pumping for an excellent cardio workout. After you finish your core toners on your towel, you can do these swimming exercises in any order that you wish, but here's the one that I use.
All of that equals one circuit. As you and your family get stronger, you should aim for three of them. Now we want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments about your favorite swimming exercises.