Exercising in water is a great way to add resistance to bodyweight training, put some variety in your weekly workout and stay cool at the same time. Core muscles can benefit greatly from the constant twisting, turning and stabilizing that water exercises require. And the fact of the matter is that too many of us spend too much time lying on our backs to work our abs. There are several ways to use the natural resistance of water to improve your routine and strengthen your core.
Swimming for Abs
We all know that swimming is a great cardio workout for your upper and lower body, but not everyone thinks about how great it can be for your abs. Whether you are swimming the butterfly, sidestroke or backstroke, your obliques, lower back, and upper and lower abdomen are constantly engaged. They have to work hard to keep your hips near the surface, keep your body in a straight line and allow your torso to twist and roll. Proper swimming form can easily tone your abs, as well as help burn the calories you need to help burn the fat to show them off.
Unstable Isometric Planks
Try using the instability of water to make isometrics more effective. Place your feet on the ladder or a stair of the pool just below the surface. Holding a noodle or other floatation device, extend your body and engage your core to hold you in a straight line from neck to feet. Extend your arms straight below your shoulders, making sure that you can keep your head above the water to breathe. Hold for as long as you can. To make this harder, perform the same plank without your feet on a stair, with only the noodle holding you up.
Resistance Twist and Leg Raise
To work your upper abdomen and obliques, stand in water up to your shoulders, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your hands together as though preparing for a dive, then extend your arms straight in front of you. Make sure they are underwater. Twist your torso to the left so that your fingers point to the 9-o’clock position. Return and repeat on the other side. To engage your lower abdomen, put your back against the pool wall with your arms out of the water, holding you steady. Hold your legs straight and lift them to the water’s surface, then slowly return them to the bottom.
Exercising in water can be great for your health and fitness, but it can also requires some precaution. Keep in mind that the exercises detailed here can be performed on dry land if need be. In order to stay safe, try to work out in water that is shallow enough to stand, especially if you are not a strong swimmer. Always be sure to have the supervision of an experienced partner or licensed water-safety professional.