5 Pool Exercises for a Total Body Workout

Elite swim coach and competitor Robert Valentin shares his top drills for building strength

We’re all looking for new ways to get fit and summer affords us many opportunities. Longer days, more pleasant weather and a wide array of group sports help make outdoor exercise much more enjoyable. But what about when it’s just too hot? We’re in the height of summer, but that doesn’t mean we have to take our workouts indoors. Enjoy all the benefits of a killer outdoor workout by hitting the pool.

For some of the best in-pool exercises for a total-body workout, we turned to Robert Valentin, an ASCA Certified Level 3 Coach and founder of Blue Ocean Swimming. Valentin has won championships as both a coach and a competitor and has more than 20 years of experience coaching. He works with all skill levels, specializing in long distance and open water swimming and knows how to get both avid swimmers and beginners in shape.

Valentin shared five of his go-to drills for improving total-body strength and power:

The Short Anchor Drill
This drill targets and strengthens the fingers, forearms, shoulder, back and promotes holding onto the water versus pulling through the water.

How to: Keeping your hands and arms under water, take rolling or dog paddle motions with the hands and arms under your chest. Visualize a barrel under your body and reach your hands and arms over that barrel. Keep a firm wrist and fingers with a 90 degree bend in your elbows.

The Long Anchor Drill
This drill adds rotation and core utilization to the short anchor drill. It targets and strengthens the fingers, forearms, shoulder, back and abdominals, while utilizing your core to generate power.

How to: Keeping your hands and arms under water, reach forward towards the wall in front of you with your right hand, while the left hand and arm is holding and traveling back, under your body (use short anchor technique)—Rotate until the left shoulder pops out of the water and alternate this motion down the pool. (your body, shoulder and legs should almost be in a side position, rotating side to side).

Barrel Roll Strokes
This drill targets and strengthens the fingers, forearms, shoulder, back and abdominals and promotes the utilization of your core to generate power and produce speed.

How to: Here we take short anchor drill and move the arms above the water. (Think regular swimming strokes) You want to keep a wide arm entry, short – quick strokes, letting your elbows really loose and bent above the water as they recover. With each stroke, catch and hold as felt in “short anchor drill” and roll and rotate. Be sure you’re rolling your body and your shoulder is popping out on each stroke. It should feel like you are just rolling from your core and your arms are along for the ride.

Long Butterfly Kick with Fins
This drill targets and strengthens the whole abdominal area and develops a strong core.

How to: With a pair of swimming fins—longer fins are better—lie on your back, extend your legs, ankles, feet and relax them. Snake your core from lower to upper in a long wave like motion. Don’t use your legs or feet, let your core do the work and propel you down the pool.

Short Butterfly Kick with Fins
This drill targets and strengthens the lower abdominal area and develops a strong core.

How to: With a pair of swimming fins (again, longer fins are better) lie on your back, extend your legs, ankles, feet and relax them. Snake your core from your pelvis to your lower abs in a short wave like motion. Don’t use your legs or feet, let your core do the work and propel you down the pool.

Related:
Get Back in the Pool: Best Swim Workout for Beginners
4 Winter Training Tips from a Pro Triathlete
Swimming for Weight Loss: Simple Tips to Help You Get Started

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