Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Pool workout:

Get the most out of time at a swimming pool, with this handy pool workout.
By Beth Hart
Date: July 30 2013
Tags: exercise, fitness,
Editor Rating:

Everyone knows that swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s an efficient, joint-friendly workout comprising lots of upper body cardio work plus full body strength, mobility and flexibility training. It’s perfect for almost anyone of every age, level of fitness and athletic ability. Swimming is not the only way to stay fit an healthy at the pool. You can cycle, jump, float, stretch and run your way to better health. Check out aqua cycling or an aqua bike, aqua running on an underwater treadmill, aqua jump on an underwater trampoline, strength training using an aqua resistance band or HIIT pilates on a floating fit mat from My Pool My Gym.

Of course, before you start any fitness program I recommend that you check with your doctor first that it is okay to do so. But once you’re given the all-clear, here’s a workout of 1.2 kilometres, based on a 25m lap pool, that will really deliver results: longer, leaner muscles and a very healthy metabolism.

A few things first.

  • You’ll need: a kickboard.
  • Optional:  a pair of goggles, a swimming cap (unless you’re happy to wash and dry it every time you swim).
  • What to wear:  swimmers where the straps won’t fall down and annoy you while you’re trying to get proper exercise.
  • Form tip: Keep your chin down, your neck long and don’t forget to breathe. Your hips and shoulders should rotate in the same direction at the same time.

Warm-up #1

Before you get in the water, warm-up with some basic movement such as arm swings, head rolls, planks and hip and knee rotations.

Warm-up #2 (150m)

This takes place in the pool. 6 laps alternating freestyle and backstroke. Try to breathe equally on both sides of the body to create balance.

Kicking #1 (200m)

It might remind you of swimming lessons all those years ago, but kicking with a kickboard is very good exercise. Do 4 laps of this.

Then follow-up with 4 laps of either a breastroke or butterfly kick, or a combination of both: this can be very difficult if you’re not used to swimming these strokes.

On the 4th lap of the kickboard set and the other set, increase your speed.

If you can’t manage 4 laps of breastroke/butterfly kick at first, just start with 1 and move up to 4 over a number of sessions. It might take you two or three sessions, it might take 10 or 12 – you’re not competing with anyone but yourself.

Kicking #2 (200m)

This time you’re kicking without a board.

4 laps in sidestroke with your head out of water, and one arm stretched out in front. Rotate arms each lap. Follow it up with 4 laps on your back, with your arms along your side so you’re just using your legs. Again, on the 4th lap of each, increase your speed.

IM (400m)

The Individual Medley is the most challenging but it’s also a wonderful feeling when you can do it! This section of the workout is about endurance and, depending on your level of fitness in the pool, you may want to work up to it.

The idea is to swim 4 sets of the four strokes. For most people, I suggest you start off with 1 set – that is, one lap each of freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke – and gradually move up to 4 sets.

Underwater world (150m)

This is more endurance. Push off from the side of the pool, and hold your breath as far as possible underwater. Once you’ve done one lap, rest for 30 seconds regardless of how many breaths is took to get there.

I suggest you start of with doing 1 lap of this moving up to 6.

Warm down (100m)

Almost there! 4 laps of your choice – with the kickboard, without the kickboard, breast stroke, freestyle, walking through the water … whatever you choose. Just do it gently and easily and make sure it’s something you enjoy.


Make sure you hydrate well. Drinking pool water doesn’t count! And then enjoy a good, balanced, healthy meal.

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