As much as I heart exercise [and, really, I do!], some days I find myself in a bit of a rut in terms of what form of exercise I should do. I hate those days because my mind shifts from YEAH!-Lets-Do-This mode into GAH!-This-Is-A-Chore mode.
I don’t want to feel obligated to workout. I want to want to workout. Know what I mean?
A few days ago, on exactly one of those ‘rut’ days, I was about to change into my workout gear and head out to the gym [hoping for inspiration once I got there], when I looked out my window and saw a glorious sight: SUNSHINE!
Beautiful clear blue skies with just a smattering of the puffiest, whitest clouds (think the sky from The Simpsons), and that gorgeous bright sun shining directly over my backyard pool. Heaven!
I live in a heavily wooded area, with large, mature trees all around my property, so on the best of days the pool is only in full sun for a few hours. This summer has been less than perfect, with loads of grey and rainy days. So to look out and see a day that was custom-made for spending in the pool, I knew what I needed to do: Take my workout to the water.
And just to show that I meant serious business, I passed over my usual two-piece (great for tanning, not so much for swimming laps) in favour of a utilitarian one-piece Speedo that sucked everything in tighter than a pair of Spanx. Perfect for keeping all the jiggly lady-bits in place and covered up.
I hit the pool with tons of energy and high expectations, jumping in all gung-ho and telling myself that I would swim laps for 30 minutes, non-stop, at a minimum.
Around five minutes later, with my heart pounding out of my chest, I grabbed onto the edge and gasped for air as I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. I’m a machine…on land. Why not in the water?
What I’ve since learned is that the primary reason exercising in water is more difficult on you is because it works your cardio (heart/lungs) plus your muscles in a different way than you’re used to.
Your lungs can no longer take in air whenever they need to (because your face is often under water – DUH!). But perhaps the most impactful difference is that the act of swimming requires every muscle in our bodies to work simultaneously to keep us afloat.
Okay, so now I get it. That’s why I was so exhausted.
Not wanting to have my workout thwarted by the burning in my chest/lungs and arms that felt like they weighed 200 lbs each, I decided to do some resistance moves, like leg raises, arm circles, etc., and then go for a run later.
I also decided to investigate some options that would give me a good workout on those sunny days when I can make the pool my gym. A few minutes online, and I was able to find several good recommendations for pool-based exercise programs designed for all fitness levels.
By and large, all the workouts I found had one common theme: Split your pool workout into shorter segments, and mix in a variety of different workloads + rest intervals.
In fact, speaking of rests or breaks, the interesting thing to note here is that unlike walking/jogging or running, where your heart rate drops very quickly when you take your rest, with swimming, your heart rate will stay raised for at least 30 seconds to a minute after a few laps.
Here are some suggestions for a good starter workout in the pool:
- Swim 4 lengths of the pool at an easy effort;
- Rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat 5-10 times
Now move into a ‘circuit’ of Flutter Kicks, Side Raises and Back Raises – 3 sets total of each:
Aqua Aerobic Circuit:
- Flutter Kicks:
- Hold onto edge of pool and do vigorous flutter kicks (splashing up a storm – be aggressive!) for 60 seconds
- Standing Leg (side) Raises:
- Hold onto the edge, raise your right leg out to the side 20 times
- Now raise your left leg out to the side 20 times
- Go back to Flutter Kicks for 60 seconds
- Standing Leg (back) Raises:
- Hold onto the edge, extend your right leg up and behind you 20 times
- Now switch to your left leg – raising up and back 20 times
- Go back to Flutter Kicks for 60 seconds
- Repeat this entire circuit until you’ve worked out each movement and each leg for 3 sets
This should get your heart racing and work up a good sweat.
For fun you can finish it off with 4 more lengths of the pool.
A great workout and an opportunity to work on your tan at the same time. What could be better? 🙂