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 Cirque du Soleil and created the DVD “Sweat Unlimited” ($25 at amazon.com), 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 plie 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.
Hold your kickboard on your left side for support. Your left forearm rests on the board and your right arm crosses in front of your body so your right hand can also rest gently on the board. The kickboard will help support your balance. Let your left leg turn out (your knee may bend slightly — this will be your supporting leg). Lift your right heel up to the side to hip level. Lift and lower 10 times. On your last rep, keep your leg lifted and pulse it up 10 times. Repeat on the other side.
• UPPER-BODY BLAST.
Muscles targeted: Back, biceps and triceps.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold your kickboard like a plate. Slowly push the kickboard straight down into the water, and then curl it back up toward your chest. Repeat the sequence eight times. Count to four as you lower and lift it again.
• ABS TUCK AND TWIST.
Muscles targeted: Abs and obliques.
You don’t need your kickboard for this one. Start with your feet together and your elbows bent so your hands are up at your chest. Soften your knees and then jump, bringing your knees to your chest. As your knees come up, push your hands into the water. Repeat eight times. Then, repeat the entire exercise but angle your knees to your right, keeping your torso to the front so you can work your left oblique, repeating eight times. Do the same to the left. Finally, tuck to the front, angle to the right, tuck to the front, angle to the left and repeat four times.