The Best Swimming Pool Exercises (…Without Swimming a Single Lap!)

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Do you own a swimming pool and have always wondered what you can do besides swimming laps to burn a few calories? Or maybe you just moved into a new apartment complex and want to make good use of your new pool access?

Swimming is such a great workout because water is close to 800 times denser than air. This means that every move you make in a pool is a resistance exercise. Another bonus: not only is exercising in the water efficient, but it is also one of the safest ways to exercise. The buoyancy of the water makes it low impact on bones and joints!

We’ve compiled some of the most effective exercises to do in a swimming pool to help achieve your health and fitness goals.

Leg Exercises in a Swimming Pool


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A different take on the classic ab exercise. Place your elbows on the pool’s edge and start to cycle your legs like you would if you were riding a bicycle.

This move engages your quadriceps, glutes, and obliques to create a stable core while building muscle and endurance in the legs. The resistance of the water makes this a really great workout that challenges all of your leg muscles much more than it would on land.

Flutter Kick

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While this move is often used to help teach people how to swim, it is great for engaging your legs and building muscle. Grab the edge of the pool and extend your legs behind. Begin to kick rapidly and focus on keeping your legs under the water. Kick as fast as possible. You can separate this workout into 3- to 5-minute sets where you kick as hard as possible and then rest for 1 minute afterward.

This move engages your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and back making it a great lower body and core strengthening exercise. Even though you aren’t moving across the pool, this is still an excellent cardio workout that will also help with heart health and weight loss.

Pendulum Swing 

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Think of an old clock that ticks back and forth. Grab the edge of the pool and mimic the movement with your legs. The resistance of the water will make this move very effective in building strength in thigh and hip muscles. You can make this more difficult by adding weights onto your ankles.

This move engages your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. It also acts as a hip opener which is very important for those of us who spend most of the day sitting.

Arm Exercises in a Swimming Pool


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While standing next to the pool, place your hands on the edge and slowly lower your chest to the pool’s edge. You’ll be slowly rising out of and lowering yourself back into the pool water.

These will engage your bicep muscles and help tone your arms. The biceps are major visible muscles, so the training that you do for them will have a big impact on the appearance of your arms.

Tricep Dips

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Sit on the edge of the pool and keep your elbows tight towards one another. Lower yourself into the pool. Raise yourself back up to extend your arms and lower back down to a 90-degree angle in your arms. The buoyancy of the water will support your weight, so you will be able to do a lot more of these than you could on land!

These engage and target your tricep muscles. It is important to target the tricep muscles on the back of the arm just as much as the biceps. This will help you build your overall arm strength faster and safely.

Lateral Raises

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You can use actual dumbbells, pool floats, or noodles for this move. Keeping your arms in the water for the entire move to use all the extra resistance, lower your arms to your side and slowly raise them to the water’s edge.

This move will engage the deltoid muscles in your shoulders. Again, these are important for those of us who are sitting at a desk most of the day. They will help with posture and help with preventing debilitating shoulder injuries later on.

Swimming Pool Exercises for Abs

Pool Plank

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With a noodle in your hands, place your feet on the pool’s ladder. Extend your arms into the water to create a traditional plank position. Make sure to engage abs to protect your lower back. Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute with a 30-second rest for 5 sets.

Planks will engage the abdominals, obliques, and traps/lats in your back. This will help with spinal stability and are great to promote overall strength for other movements throughout your day.

Single-Leg Deadlift

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Again with a noodle in your hands and standing in waist-deep water, lean forward pushing the noodle into the water towards your toes. At the same time, raise one leg up to the water’s edge behind you. Make sure to keep your hips parallel to the ground so that you don’t put any unnecessary strain on your back and hips. One leg lift is one rep. Do 10 reps with one leg and then switch to the other leg. Repeat for both legs 3 times.

This move is great for more than core stability. It will engage the spinal erector muscles and hamstrings which will also help with posture and functional strength.

Floating V-Ups

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Floating on your back with a noodle under your knees, crunch until you create a V-shape with your body. The crunch and return to flat is 1 rep. Do 20 reps.

Just like the deadlift above works most of the back of your body, the V-ups work most of the front of your body and engage your obliques, abdominals, and quadriceps.

Swimming Pool Exercises for Seniors

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Multiple studies have shown that seniors who exercise in a pool (beyond just swimming laps) dramatically improve their health and energy levels. As we mentioned above, the buoyancy of the water makes for natural and easier resistance than on land. This can be easier on joints and bones which is very important for senior citizens who may be dealing with arthritis and joint pain.

  1. Aqua jogging or walking – Just like jogging on land, this is the perfect cardio exercise to get the blood pumping. The low-impact of being in the water makes it more doable for people suffering from joint or bone pain.
  2. Leg Lifts – A simple variation of the classic workout. Standing in the water raise one leg out to the side as far as it will go and then lower back down. Do this until exhaustion and switch to the other side. This builds muscle in the leg and helps stabilize the core.
  3. Bicep Curls – You can use water dumbbells for a little more resistance or just do this move with your hands. Facing palms up on the edge of the water. Curl your arms in towards you to engage your bicep. Do this until exhaustion and then rest for a few minutes before doing another set.
  4. Arm Circles – Stand in the water so that you are submerged to your neck. Lift your arms up so that they are just below the surface. Circle your hands 15 times in one direction, then switch to the opposite direction. Repeat 3 times.
  5. Wall Chairs – Hanging onto the edge of the pool, raise your legs out in front of you. Tuck your knees into your chest and then extend them again out in front of you. Do about 10 to 15 reps of this.

Swimming Pool Exercise Equipment

An essential to any swimming pool exercise routine is a good quality swimsuit. Many professional swimmers choose either Speedos for men or one-piece racerback suits for women. These allow for optimal shoulder movement and will guarantee a “second-skin” fit. If you don’t plan on swimming laps often then you may be able to get away with a more relaxed fit with either baggier shorts for men or a two-piece suit for women. Ultimately, you need to be comfortable in your suit or else it will be one more excuse to not get in the pool! So make sure to choose the right style for you that will help facilitate your health and fitness goals.

There are SO many different swimming pool exercises with a noodle, making it an essential piece of equipment for your routine. USA Pool Direct has an extensive selection of noodles and we suggest the Swimways Corporation’s Super Swim Noodle at a modest $5.97.

A slightly more advanced option, ankle weights help you level up when you are ready to get beyond bodyweight exercises. They are great for adding drag while actually swimming laps. This will create even more resistance to build leg and shoulder muscles. They are also great for other leg exercises in swimming pools to create more resistance and continue to build lean muscle. USA Pool Direct offers All Pro Product’s Ankle Weights which are a perfect addition to any swimming pool exercise routine!

Exercises to Do in a Swimming Pool to Lose Weight

Most people have heard of one of the latest fitness crazes: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are so popular for many reasons: they help build endurance, burn calories and fat in a shorter amount of time, are an effective energy use, boost metabolism, keep you burning calories after leaving the gym or pool, are good for heart health, promote fat loss not muscle, etc. (The list really does go on and on…) For that reason, we have listed a few examples of HIIT exercises that will help you lose those last few pounds!




We hope that this post helps you achieve all your health and fitness goals! It is very important for pool safety to properly know how to exercise in a swimming pool. Please comment below with any questions or ideas on the best swimming pool exercises you have come across!


  1. Alex

    Hi Diane – we are glad you enjoyed the article and that you are getting out there and exercising. We hope to publish articles like this in the future.

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