Until recently, those who chose to burn calories in the pool simply swam laps. These days there are oceans of possibilities for water exercisers.
This article concentrates mainly on deep water running as a training tool. We will explore the use of propulsion, speed, lever length and intervals for maximum training effect in deep water.
The human body responds differently to exercise and movement in water. An aquatic training environment takes advantage of resistance and buoyancy to create work and rest, as opposed to manipulating gravity in land based exercise.
This program is designed to accommodate the existing lane area of a pool or can be adapted to limited pool space or design. It can be a class or group activity or a one to one exercise program.
With a combination of static and traveling moves intensity levels can be varied from high to low. Deep water work offers continuous rhythmic movement with very little rest phase, making it a fabulous medium to attain aerobic training, particularly when utilizing large limb movement ie. Legs and hips.
- Increased muscular strength and endurance
- Enhanced flexibility
- Positive changes in body composition
- Improved posture, balance and coordination
- Improved cardiovascular fitness due to increased aerobic capacity
- Always start each exercise slowly, gradually working into full range of motion and strength
- As technique and mobility increase, encourage to work more powerfully against the water’s resistance
- Breathing cues are of utmost importance. Due to body submersion, breathing sometimes becomes short and shallow causing breathlessness. The flotation belt can also contribute to this as well as the temperature of the water. "Inhale deeply! Exhale fully!"
- Postural cues: "Chin up, head down!" "Breathe through abdominals!" "Shoulders down!"
- Proper body alignment must be established early and body alignment should remain constant throughout. For static work, body position should be vertical. Shoulders over hips, hips over heels. The abdominal and lower back muscles provide stability of the lumbar region. The pelvis should remain neutral. Think body – torso control.
- The body has a slight forward lean (approximately 5%).
- Cue to lengthen torso forming a strong posture: "move with lift".
- hin down, chest out, abdominals firm, butt tucked under thighs. Pump at hip height, flat foot down
- NB: Do not allow the back to round into a curl up position, as this will reduce range of motion and produce poor posture.
Running deep is safe and can be sustained for long periods of time. It is ideal for cardiovascular conditioning and for the injured athlete. Land based training can be in some cases duplicated or maintained utilizing a deep water running program without risk of further injury, if correct posture is maintained. (It is well documented that thoroughbred racehorses swimming ten minutes is equivalent to an eight and a half kilometre gallop).
A running program can be for everybody. Try running a couple of laps instead of swimming. Feel the difference.
Determining workout intensity
Today’s exercise and fitness professional’s predominately deal with three major groups: "previously sedentary"; "currently active" and "performance training".
Target heart rates (THR) range should fall between 55-90% of maximal heart rate (MAXHR) corresponding to 40-85% of heart rate reserve (HRR) and MAXVO2.
Exactly which percentage you choose depends on current fitness level (or that of your client); your goals and what you want to achieve.
Example: Previously sedentary
- Health related exercising
- 40-55% HRR
- 5-7 days a week
- Variable duration
Example: Currently active
- Cardiovascular fitness
- 60-75% HRR
- 3-4 days a week
- 16-60 minutes
Example: Performance training
- Training athlete
- Above 85% HRR
- 7 days a week
- More than 60 minutes
- Only for the extremely fit
NB: Due to the water’s cooling effect HRR will almost always be lower than land comparisons. Use the talk test during intensive training.
A study conducted at America’s Adelphi University had 14 subjects do treadmill walking, water walking, treadmill jogging and water jogging. The water walking and jogging was done with a wet vest. VO2 and heart rate were measured. The results showed that water walking elicited a 110% greater energy cost than treadmill walking. Also water walking only elicited a 23% less energy cost than treadmill jogging. Since the calories burned from water walking were comparable to treadmill jogging, the researchers concluded that water exercise was an excellent, less stressful alternative to jogging on land or on a treadmill.
(Source: Research and Reference list: The Aquatic Exercise Association, Florida USA 1995)
As instructors, it is our responsibility to guide our participants throughout the exercises and ensure they are being motivated and challenged.
- Quality of movement
- Movement with lift capitalising on water’s buoyancy effect
Warm up first
Establish good technique and running position
Be aware that when speed and intensity increases form will invariable go out the window
Position some markers (cones etc.) along the side of the pool
- Sprint to the fourth marker
- Stride to the fifth marker
Repeat a minimum of four times
Gradually increase run and sprint phases
Remove two markers
- Run to the first marker and back to start position
- Run to second marker and back to start position
- Run to third marker and back to start position
Repeat sequence running to third marker and back, then second and back, then first and back.
- Jogging on the spot (normal jog arms)
- Sprint for 15 seconds, rest 5 seconds
- Change arms and hand positions:
Cup hand, palm downward. Raise arm to just below surface level before pulling arm and hand down hard (as if pushing water into side thigh pockets). Straighten arm at final push out back, pushing through triceps.
- Opposite arm to leg
- Slow and powerful jog action
- Approximately 15-20 seconds
- Repeat first jog then sprint phase and pocket phase – interval.
- Return to Steps 1 or 2 to finish off.
- Equipment used:
- Buoyancy belt
- Neoprene Hand web
- Pool space: 1 lane
- Depth: 1.8 – 2 metres
NB: Belt must fit at the waist firmly. It should be tight, as it will loosen slightly in the water.
Level of buoyancy should be assessed and water should be at collar bone or neck height. This will determine correct amount of buoyancy.
Have fun—and dive into the pool for your next workout.