I finally got to try out a Water Running class this week. It wasn’t the normal instructor – so I’m curious to see how the next class will differ. Either way – I sort of went into the class wondering what we would be doing for an hour and if it would be a decent workout or not. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of movements we did and how fast my heart was beating! For those of you with access to a pool but perhaps no access to a class version of water running, I thought I’d give you a run down (no pun intended) of things you can do in the water to get a good workout aside from simply swimming laps (which is no small feat on it’s own if you’ve tried it in your adult life).
You can start in the shallow end to get warmed up. Our pool has an open area and then about 4 lanes blocked off for swimming lanes. So we used the width of the pool in the shallow end from wall to first swim lane to do some shorter laps if that makes sense. We did the following:
Jog in the water (just like you would jog on land) forward to swim lane, return jogging backward. Keep your fingers uncupped so that you aren’t propelling yourself forward with your arms.
Move toward swim lane with alternating high knees, come back to wall doing butt kicks – focus on speed.
Move toward swim lane using a “skip” style – focusing on jumping out of the water and forward. So not focused on speed, but on height of your jump. Make sure you are switching which leg you are leading/jumping with. Return to wall in same style
Of course – you can repeat all these several times for a nice warm up.
The instructor also used Tabata style format to get our cardio workout in. If you aren’t familiar with Tabata – it forces you to work at high intensity for a short period of time and then rest and repeat. You can pick the times and how many times you repeat. For our class – we did different versions of Tabata. For example:
Shallow End Tabata (move so you are shoulder deep)
20 seconds: Sprint in place (focus on moving as fast as possible with hand/arm movement in water)
Rest 10 Seconds
20 Seconds: High Knees in place (focus on crunching and make sure you have your arms going)
Rest 10 seconds
20 Seconds: Butt Kicks (in place, quickly)
Rest 10 seconds
And then we would change it to 30 seconds with 10 second rest, etc. You could pick a variety of movements to suit your own needs and amount of time you have to spend for each section.
You will definitely feel all of these exercises in your hamstrings!
To really get into water running you have to incorporate the deep end – because jogging in the shallow end is super easy when you compare it to trying to propel yourself forward when you can’t touch the bottom. A few things on form when water running:
Don’t cup your hands – you want the forward motion to be coming from the leg movement. Pretend like you are doing a leg extension in the weight room – move your right leg to a 90 degree angle in front of you and pull back, repeat on other side – this is the motion you are doing to water run in the deep end. Your hands are moving, but fingers are straight, not cupped. Work to keep your body straight – not leaning forward or backward. You will feel like you are barely moving – but your heart rate will tell you otherwise!
When we got to the deep end wall, we did short kicks while holding onto the wall and long scissor kicks (using Tabata style again). We also put our backs against the wall and arms on either side to support us as we lifted our legs straight up (back flat against the wall) and pushed them back down into the water. This was extremely difficult!
If you are comfortable in the deep end, you can move away from the wall and do another set of workouts such as the following:
30 seconds: Tread Water using hands and legs
30 seconds: Tread water using hands/arms only – keep legs straight (if this is too difficult, bend your legs some and that will help)
30 seconds: Treat water using legs only – put your arms out of the water to make sure you aren’t cheating!
You can repeat that several times and change up how long you are doing each thing until your hearts content!
Obviously once you are done with that you have to water run back to the shallow end!
A lot of the articles I looked at about water running show people running with floatation belts on. In our class, we didn’t utilize these, but I could see how you could probably work on speed more if you had a belt on to help you stay afloat. I’ll have to try that out one time to see what different it makes. Without the belt, I think it would be difficult to keep doing laps without stopping because it does require so much effort to stay afloat on your own and move forward!
This would be a great alternative to just swimming laps if you are bored with that routine. It’s also great if you are injured or pregnant and can’t do high impact stuff anymore! As always, check with your doctor before taking on any new exercise program as I am not a doctor and can only tell you my opinion of the workout!