Updated on January 11, 2019
The Water Calisthenics Pool Circuit Workout!
Calisthenic workouts are cool. Except when it’s hot out. Then they’re melting. So stay cool, get in the pool, and try something different: Try a water calisthenics pool circuit workout! It’s a low-impact, but highly challenging (and refreshing) way to work out your whole body.
Here’s a circuit you should try :
This is one circuit. Use the time wading between each of the five exercises as rest and repeat the circuit four times for a complete workout.
Ready? Here are the detailed instructions for each exercise of this pool circuit workout:
Calisthenic Pool Circuit Workout Exercise Descriptions:
1. Wet Step Ups
Step-ups are easy right? They are if the step is low that’s called walking upstairs, but I bet you can’t do a proper step-up on to a ledge that’s above waist height. Unless you’re in water, that is.
The buoyancy of the water will help you up at the difficult bottom half of the step-up, but disappear at the top once you’re out of the water. This makes it perfect for getting maximum effort out of your muscles.
Focus Muscles: Hamstrings and Glutes
Number of Reps: 8 reps each leg at a height you can do without compromising on form.
Starting Position: Stand straight-up on the bottom of the pool with your hands on your head and place one foot on the ledge or step. Pick a height that is challenging but that you can do without cheating.
Upward Movement: Keeping hands on your head and your back straight, use the butt and hamstring muscles of your leg that’s on the step to lift yourself up. Do not cheat by pushing off with your back leg (the one on the bottom of the pool). Find a lower step if you can’t do the exercise without doing so. Rise up, fully extending your active leg, rising onto your tiptoes, and raise the other knee up to your chest. Pause at the top. If you are unable to balance at the top that means you are moving too fast and uncontrolled. Slow down.
Downward Movement: Focus on keeping your back straight up and putting all your weight back on your butt and thighs. Descend slow and controlled so that your off foot gently lands on the bottom of the pool instead of thudding down. Repeat with the same leg for eight reps, then switch legs for eight more.
2. Press Ups
This is a killer shoulder and ab workout that again is improved thanks to the buoyancy of water. In this case, for many people this exercise would be impossible out of the water, but in a pool it’s no problem. And for advanced athletes it remains extremely challenging.
Focus Muscles: Shoulders and abs
Starting position: Place your hands on the edge of the pool. Ideally, your fingers should be facing back towards you, but if you find this too uncomfortable you can do it with your fingers facing forward. Keeping your elbows completely locked, lean forward so your feet come off the bottom of the pool and all your weight is on your hands.
Upward Motion: Keeping your elbows locked, engage your ab and shoulder muscles and lift your butt out of the water as high as you can. Your shoulders have to be in front of your hands for balance, as in the picture above. Do not use your feet to jump up or push upwards against the side of the pool; they should be floating freely. Raise your butt as high out of the water as you can (try to get your knees out of the water) and hold there for a second.
Downward Motion: Lower you butt down slowly until returning to the starting position. Do not rest your feet on the bottom of the pool. Keep them afloat, meaning all your weight stays on your hands throughout the exercise. Lift back up and do eight reps.
3. Squat Jumps
The pool is a perfect environment for squat jumps. The resistance of the water makes the jump up extra challenging, but it also softens the impact of your landing. Plus it’s just more fun to make huge splashes.
Focus Muscles: Legs
Starting position: Go to a part of the pool that is about waist deep, place our feet shoulder width apart and your hands on the top of your head.
Upward motion: Rapidly drop into a quarter squat, loading as much tension as you can onto your butt and back of legs, then explode up. Focus on extending your whole body—hips, knees, ankles—as you rise up, keeping your hands on your head at all times. Once in the air, raise your knees into a tuck and try to get your feet out of the water.
Downward motion: Land back in your starting position, hands still on head, and immediately bounce back for your next rep until you’ve done eight. Try not to pause at all between reps.
4. Pool Planche Pushups
Planche pushups are pushups with your feet off the ground. Only superhuman athletes can do them. But a pool makes it possible (or at least easier) for mere mortals to do because the water helps keep your torso and legs afloat.
Focus Muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs
Starting Position: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the pool, ideally facing inwards like in the picture, but they can be facing out if you find that too uncomfortable. Straighten your arms and lock your elbows. Keeping your elbows locked, butt tight, and back straight, lean forward as far as possible. Your butt and legs should lift off the bottom of the pool and float straight behind you, so that your body is straight and at roughly a 40-degree angle to the ground (like in the righthand picture above).
Downward Motion: As if descending for a pushup, lower your chest towards the edge of the pool by bending your arms. Keep your elbows to your side and not flaring out. Also keep your butt flexed, back straight, and legs floating behind you. For balance, your shoulders will have to go well in front of your hands. Stop descending just before your upper body touches the edge of the pool. The closer to parallel you keep your body (i.e. the higher your feet are off the bottom of the pool) the harder the exercise is. You can also make the exercise a bit easier by spreading your legs (as I’m doing in the above photos).
Upward Motion: Push yourself back up to the starting position. Resist the urge to bend at the hips by keeping your butt tightly flexed and heavily engaging your core. Pause at the top, then repeat eight times.
5. L-Sit Flutter Kicks
L-sits are perhaps the king of ab exercises. For most they are too difficult to do at the gym but—once again thanks to the buoyancy of water—in the pool they are possible for people of all levels.
Focus Muscles: Abs and hip flexors
Reps: 20 slow and controlled flutters (1o kicks with each leg)
Starting position: Sit at the edge of the pool, or on a shallow submerged step (as in the photo above). Place your hands beside your hips and fully extend your arms so your elbows are locked. Ideally have your fingers facing backward, but if that’s uncomfortable they can be facing forwards (like in the photo). Suck your belly button up into your spine, pick your butt off the ground so all your weight’s on your hands, point your toes, straighten your legs, and lift them straight in front of you as high as you can. Ideally your legs will be at around a 90-degree angle to your torso, forming an L-shape. For added difficulty, push your hips forward so that they are in line with your hands.
Motion: Keeping your legs straight and arms locked at all times, slowly and deliberately lift one foot. Try to get the heel completely out of the water. Hold it at the highest point, then slowly return the leg back down beside the other leg. Repeat with the other leg until you’ve done ten reps with each.
Head out to your nearest pool, disregard any funny looks (they’re just jealous) and try this water calisthenics pool circuit workout.
Let us know how it goes. And if you have any ideas for other water calisthenics exercises please share in the comments below.
Also, if you like the idea of unconventional workouts, you might be inspired by these posts on an underwater walking workout, a beach rock lifting and throwing workout, and training exercises that convert a hammock from a relaxation device into a sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping machine.