Sunday, June 28, 2009

Swimming Pool and Upper Body/Arm Workout

I have had several requests in the past few days for more information about my Swimming Pool Workout and the exercises I do for my arms, so I'm devoting this post to go into a little more detail.

First, a little history as to how my pool workout started. As you know, I live in Florida and have 4 boys...this means it is very hot and I have very little time to exercise, so I need a workout that doesn't take a lot of time, but still delivers results. I used to workout all the time before I had children, usually first thing in the morning before going to work. After having my boys I found it increasingly more difficult to fit in aerobic exercise because I either had to head out in the dark to walk/jog before everyone woke up in the morning, risk suffering heat exhaustion when working out later in the day, or do nothing at all. So...I decided to start walking, jogging, and doing aerobics in the pool where it is nice and cool, even in the heat of the day. That way I can put my littles down for naps and head outside for my workout without dying from the Florida heat.

Working out in the pool is really pretty simple and yields significant results after a short period of time. I think it essentially does *double-duty* in that not only are you getting a cardiovascular workout, but you are also performing muscle building/strengthening exercises at the same time. It is also much easier on your joints than working out on land. I workout for 30 minutes at least 5 days of the week, and personally like to listen to dance music or my favorite 80's music station while doing so. You can create your own workout CD with your preferred music, the goal is to listen to something that will get you moving and keep you moving.

During my workout I jog in place, walk from side to side of the pool, do aerobics, and swim using 2 pool noodles. While jogging, walking, and doing aerobics I make sure that my arms are underneath the water and I essentially do weight training moves such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, as well as a movement that simulates the butterfly press. I also do the arm movements of the breast stroke while walking the pool. Other movements I perform in the pool are ones I picked up from doing Tae Bo after my first son was born...doing the kicks in the pool works your legs out even harder because you have the resistance of the water, and it's the same thing with the arm exercises. Btw, if you don't have a pool, but still want an intense workout that will develop your arm muscles then I would suggest Tae Bo by Billy Blanks seen here . I haven't tried his newest workouts, but I did use the older routines after my first son was born and it really helped me start to develop a lot of muscle in my arms and abs.

In the pool I also use 2 of the larger size pool noodles to swim and perform isolated arm exercises. They help to keep me afloat enough so that I don't get my hair wet everyday and they are fantastic for helping to work the lower abdomen, inner thigh, and arms. I use them this way: I lay them in front of me perpendicular to my body and hang onto them with my arms extended. Then I isolates the lower abdomen so well and I've started to see significant results. This move is especially great for women who have had babies and haven't been able to get rid of the lower baby know the place that seems impossible to tighten up? Well, this move with the noodles really, really helps. Then I turn over on my back and wrap the noodles around me so that ends are now in front of me and my back is supported on the middle of them. I swim backwards in order to workout my hamstrings and then on each side to work on my side abs. Then while I still have the noodles wrapped around my back, I turn back onto my belly and swim just kicking my legs again...this works the lower abs again as well as the entire leg. Another great move for the legs and arms is simply treading water...this also increases your heart rate and gives you a cardio workout, too. I also use the noodles to sit strattled across (picture riding a horse) and then use only my arms to move myself across the pool forward and then backward. This is a great workout for the biceps and triceps because the water gives excellent resistence as you move through the pool pulling your own body weight, plus it's great cardio, too.

So, I do all of this for at least 30 minutes...switching between the different moves the entire time. It gives me a cardio workout along with weight training and muscle building for my arms, thighs, and abs...all the time keeping me cool and comfortable in the heat of the day. I found a chart that shows how many more calories are used working out in the water than on dry land:

Water aerobics has an added benefit: it enables you to burn up calories much more efficiently. Compare the following estimates of calorie consumption for a 30-minute workout:
  • Land walking: 135 calories
  • Deep water walking; 264 calories
  • Jogging on land: 240 calories
  • Deep water jogging: 340 calories
If you already have an aerobics routine or have done one in the past, you can simply do it in the's definitely not complicated. :)I've also read that some people choose to wear weights while performing water aerobics but I haven't tried them.

I think that's about it...if you have any questions please feel free to ask. :)


  1. wow FFM, I love this routine. 30 min is not that long time and you really can get results as you said. It is very hard for me to find out time to work out, but the truth is; we make our choices and our time.
    I love the shape of your arms, and I am thinking to start to take my daughter to the pool and maybe use her as a "weight", since she still can't swim. I always worked out, but since I had her I found myself so lazy or so busy to do it. I definitely going back to work out. Thank you for the encouragement.
    Note: the time I will be on the pool I will going to think ...FFM arms, FFM arms, so I can keep going :)

  2. Good for you Outfit of the Day! I think taking your daughter along is a great idea. You could get her one of the floats that is like a little boat, or one that she can sit in. That way you can swim while pushing her along and keep her by you while jogging or doing aerobics. :)

  3. OMG, FFM, thank you SO much! I feel like I've just had a session with a personal trainer!!! I struggle to find the time to exercise - other than about 30 minutes a morning on my stationary bike. But, I am heading to the pool tomorrow with 3 boys and can't hardly wait to get in the water and start working out by walking and doing arm exercises! Ditto what "The Outfit of the day" said - I'll be thinking FFM arms, FFM arms, I can do this. :) I am so encouraged now! You are so generous and thoughtful to take the time out of your busy day to share all this fantastic info with us! THANKS a million!

  4. Fantastic info, FFM! My boot camp has ended, and won't start up again until maybe mid-August. Maybe I can try some of these out at the pool. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. thank you so much for this! i didn't make it to the pool today (did yoga instead) but am planning on going some this week. i'll definitely try some of these ideas out. i've found that pool workouts make me more exhausted than any other...a true sign that they WORK! have a great week!

  6. Thanks for sharing your workout *secrets*! ;) You are so kind!

    Since I do not have a pool, nor do I go to any pools- I will be trying some of these out in the lake! I think I have some Tae Bo videos around here somewhere too so I may be digging those out as well!

    Thanks for the motivation (I NEED it)! :)

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  8. This is a great workout, I love working out in the water. Have you tried a deep water belt?, it does the same thing as the noodle, but you get more support in the deep water. I have had to stay away from the water because I am allergic to the chlorine, I really miss it. My exercise routine is mainly walking now, I have lost 35 lbs by walking 30-60 min a day.

  9. Elizabeth: You are so VERY welcome! Let me know how it goes at the pool. :)

    Heidi: I know your boot camp worked great for you...I hope this will give you a few ideas for the pool, too.

    AppGal: You're welcome! Pool workouts definitely use a lot of energy...not that easy at all. ;)

    Hi MMM! Let me know how it goes in the lake...that is such a great idea! It definitely is a water workout, so any water will work. :)

    sports: Thanks!

    casual-crew: First of all...CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss! That is absolutely FANTASTIC!! :) I haven't heard of the deep water belt, but will check into it...thank you for the information!

  10. Great stuff!! I wish i had a pool to use daily, but since i don't, i can prob. use some of these excercise tips when i take my little boy to swim lessons. I am going to check out the Tae Bo workout, too!! thanks for sharing!

  11. FFM I agree with you about Tae Bo ... I used to do it in college back in the days of VHS, and I really liked it. I was recently telling my DH about it, and he downloaded a bunch of Billy Blanks workouts (Tae Bo beginner, intermediate, advanced, cardio bootcamp, etc.) and we have been doing them for about 3 weeks now. The improvement is amazing! It's great too because Billy (obviously) derives his moves from martial arts, so it's not some girly aerobics video that my DH feels stupid doing, haha ;) It's not true martial arts, but it's pretty hardcore. I am definitely loving the results :) Doing the workouts in the pool? Genius!

  12. Such a great post! I also do a lot of swimming and pool exercises. I use to do more when my boys were younger, but now I can get to the gym just about every morning ... still, pool workouts are great!!
    ALso, for those interested, most YMCA's have pool workout classes.

  13. You are very welcome mrs.anketell! :)

    Lilac Cupcake: Thanks for stopping by! I'm so thrilled to hear from another fan of Tae Bo and I also had the VHS tapes when I used to do it before...too funny! I am amazed out how it transforms the body so quickly and it's pretty fun, too! :)

    Thank you melissa and thanks for the information about the YMCA! :)

  14. What a fab post FFM!! I went out and bought a noodle and have been doing the strength training in my hot tub out back the last two nights. Its great, I usually go in after the kids are asleep and just sit and now I'm using your suggestions and working on my lower abs and arms!!! My in-laws who live 5 min away have a pool so as soon as the 65 degree weather goes away (hopefully this weekend) I will head over there with the kids and do the full workout! Thanks again!!

  15. that's it! i told my husband we need to put in a pool stat! :)

  16. Great workout! I don't have a pool, but I loved reading this. You're the best!

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  18. I will definitely try your routine as soon as our new pool is done. We're still waiting for some extra work that the contractors will add next weekend, so I need to be more patient. I am so ready for summer here in Chicago and will be doing a LOT of working out. No wonder your arms are in good shape.

  19. Swimming is so amazing for ones figure!

  20. Great tips! That explains the toned arms :) I hate working out but I have no choice but force myself to do it.

  21. I am a 40 year old stroke survivor . I have been going to my community pool and jogging in place I cannot wait to try the noodles, although I will alert the lifeguards to be extra careful thanks for the tips