A cool pool workout with resistance built right in

  • Updated: August 24, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Working out in a pool provides resistance with less stress on joints.


Trainer Sara Haley demonstrated the “cowboy knees” exercise.

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon • Chicago Tribune,

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If you’re only swimming laps when you’re in the water, then you’re missing out on a fun strength-training workout.

Water offers 12 times as much resistance as air, so it’s easy to do a total body workout quickly with the help of just a kickboard.

Sara Haley, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based celebrity trainer who has developed workouts for the Cirque du Soleil and created the DVD “Sweat Unlimited,” has put together this water workout, which provides cardio and toning. You may repeat the entire sequence two to three times.

Lunge and swoosh

Muscles targeted: Chest, glutes and legs.

Warm up with this move. Stand in shallow water with your feet together, holding a kickboard at your chest. Since this is a warm-up, keep light resistance, with only about a third of the kickboard in the water. Step out to the right in a plié squat (hips rotated out). As you squat, swoosh the kickboard (or just your arms if you don’t have a kickboard) in a big half circle to the right. Repeat to your left. Continue alternating right and left — four on each side.

Jog and kick

Muscles targeted: Quads, hamstrings, back, triceps and core.

With straight arms, hold the long sides of the kickboard above your head. Alternate lifting your knees to your chest eight times. Then, push the kickboard down into the water to chest level so one side is facing you. To keep the kickboard under the water with straight arms, you’ll need to squeeze your shoulder blades together, engaging your triceps and back. As you hold the kickboard, alternate kicking your bottom, doing hamstring curls eight times. Repeat the entire exercise eight times, trying to increase your speed. It should be difficult to breathe by the time you’re done.

Push and lift

Muscles targeted: Chest, core, legs and glutes.

Begin with your feet together, holding your kickboard against your chest. Step one foot forward into a lunge position, pushing the kickboard forward so your arms are straight. The deeper the kickboard is, the harder this exercise will be. Hinge at the hips and lift your back leg up as if you are trying to kick your foot out of the water. Point your foot and pulse your back leg up so that your foot flutter kicks out of the water six times. Lower your leg, step back together, bringing your kickboard back to your chest and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating right and left for a total of eight times.

Cowboy knees

Muscles targeted: Obliques.

Hold the kickboard behind your head to help open your chest. Turning out from your hips, lift your right leg up. As your knee lifts, your upper body should also lift up and over toward your knee so your knee and elbow come closer together. Repeat 10 times on the right side and then 10 times on the left. Finish by alternating right and left at a quick pace 10 times.

Bye-bye, saddlebags

Muscles targeted: Outer thighs and glutes.

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