Pool Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

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Published: December 14, 2022

Although swimming is a marvelous full-body exercise on its own, there are many more ways to enjoy the swimming pool. A great variety of pool exercises for a full-body workout will not only help you achieve your fitness goals but also have fun while working out. Experts from DubaiPt Personal Trainers have some excellent recommendations when it comes to exercising in the swimming pool. Each and every exercise you are about to read is beneficial for your flexibility, strength, and overall physical and mental health. From low-impact exercises like walking in the pool to high-impact cardio exercises like aquatic HIIT, working out in the pool can be beneficial, no matter what age you are.

How is exercising in the water different from regular exercise?

Aquatic exercises can be perfect for those who find it difficult to exercise on land. Due to water’s density, the pressure your joints handle while you perform an exercise will be minimal. This makes exercising in water perfect for seniors and those recovering from an injury. However, this is not the only benefit. Since water density provides resistance, it encourages the strengthening of your muscles. It’s like working out with dumbbells, resistance bands, or ankle weights – but without them.

view of a pool
There are many more physical activities you can do at the pool than just swimming. And all of them are great for your physical health!

Exercising in the pool can be as hard as you make it. Therefore, pool exercises are also great for anyone looking to improve their cardiovascular health on a beginner or advanced level. Lastly, aerobic exercise in water has proven to help with many chronic conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Low joint mobility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Balance issues
person doing pool exercises for a full-body workout
Due to water resistance, your workouts can become harder, but the pressure on your joints will decrease, which makes pool exercises for a full-body workout appropriate for all generations.

Should you have any equipment for pool exercises for a full-body workout?

The beauty of these full-body exercises performed in the pool is that you don’t need any equipment at all. Doing bodyweight exercises may prove to be as beneficial as a workout from the best workout apps. However, you can use some equipment to make your exercises more challenging. Besides needing a swimming costume, cap, towel, and a pair of goggles, you may also need some of the following equipment:

  • Kickboard – an excellent thing for keeping your balance when doing pool exercises for a full-body workout
  • Foam dumbbells – if you opt for these, remember to choose the weight you can handle. You’ll want to challenge but not overexert yourself. Keep in mind that foam dumbbells are light when dry but get heavy when they are wet
  • Buoyancy belt – a piece that will keep your head above the water when you are doing arm or core exercises underwater
  • Ankle or wrist weights – since the water density will already make movement harder, those who want to challenge themselves further can put weights on their ankles or wrists for a powerful strength session
a woman in the pool
You won’t need any special equipment for the pool since all the exercises are bodyweight. But you can bring some gadgets to help you have a more intense workout session.

The most popular pool exercises for a full-body workout

Some of the most popular pool exercises that will shape your entire body and strengthen your muscles include:

  1. Walking or jogging in water
  2. Leg kicks
  3. High-knee extensions
  4. Jumping jacks
  5. Deepwater bicycle
  6. Forward and side lunges
  7. Triceps dips
  8. Pushups

Walking or jogging in water

This is a low-impact exercise you can begin with to activate your core and lower body. It would be best to perform it in a pool where the water reaches your waist. You won’t need any equipment. Start by walking 10 to 20 steps forwards, then backward. Continue by walking on your toes and switch to walking on your heels. To challenge yourself a bit, you can increase your speed or start jogging. Jog in place first, and then try to jog to the end of the pool. As a progression, you can try walking sideways. Cross your right foot in front of your left foot, and walk sideways. Try doing these 20 steps in one direction, then changing positions and walking in the other direction, having your left foot crossing your right one.

Leg kicks

For this exercise, you can use the kickboard or hold onto the edge of the pool. Lay flat on the water surface and start kicking your feet up and down. This exercise is excellent for a full-body workout. It works your arms, core, legs, and glutes and is also one of the best back pain exercises you can implement into your workout routine. It is one of the exercises to adjust to your own possibilities. You can kick your legs slowly and focus on what feels good for your back, or you can make it into a cardio session by increasing the speed. Do this exercise for 60 seconds, then rest for 15. Repeat three times.

woman exercising in the pool
Leg kicks are one of the best exercises for lower back pain; try them in a pool!

High-knee extensions

Doing this exercise in water is entirely different from doing it on dry land. High-knee extensions will undoubtedly work your legs, but they are also an excellent abs workout. It challenges your obliques and helps you improve your balance. This exercise can be both low and high-impact, and you can add ankle weights if you want that extra burn. It would be best to do it in a waist-high water pool. Start with slightly spreading your legs so they are in line with your hips. Lift your right leg until it reaches the water’s surface, and hold it there for a few seconds. Continue doing the exercise for 5 minutes, then switch to the other leg.

Jumping jacks are one of the best pool exercises for a full-body workout

This intense exercise will target your entire body, but mostly your quads, glutes, upper back, and shoulders. It is considered to be the best exercise to lose weight, in or out of the pool. Jumping jacks are an intense exercise on their own, but adding ankle and wrist weights while doing them in the pool will definitely challenge you on a higher level. Begin by spreading your legs hip wide apart and spread your arms to the sides at shoulder height. As you jump, spread your legs further to the side and bring your arms over to your head. Do 1-3 sessions with 10-15 repetitions.

A man getting out of a swimming pool after doing pool exercises for a full-body workout
Jumping jacks are excellent full-body exercises to improve your cardiovascular health. And the best part is, anyone can do them.

Deepwater bicycle

For this exercise, go to a deeper swimming pool. It would be best if you could put on a buoyancy belt to keep your head above the water. If not, you can hold onto the pool edge with one hand. Move your feet like you would when riding a bicycle. Do so for 10-15 minutes for best results. This exercise will target your calves, quads, glutes, and a little bit of core.

Forward and side lunges

This is one of the best exercises for the lower body area. By doing it in a waist-level water pool, you will ensure to target your glutes, quads, and calves to the maximum. Put on the ankle weights or hold the dumbbells if you want to train your arms as well. Forward lunges are performed by making a step forward with one leg and bending the knee on your other leg to the floor. Don’t let the knee of your front leg go over your toes. Keep your back straight and put your arms on your hips, or have them in the air holding dumbbells. Return to the position in which you started and repeat with the other leg. Try to make 3 sets, 10 lunges each.

Triceps dips

As you do triceps dips in the pool, you will quickly start to feel the burn in your triceps and core. It’s no wonder that it’s considered one of the best arm workouts for women since it is efficient and doesn’t require any equipment. It’s a bodyweight exercise anyone can perform. You can start by sitting on the edge of the pool, feet in the water. Hold onto the edge of the pool and slide your body into the water, not letting go of the edge, and bend your arms until they make a 90-degree angle. Then push back until your arms are extended again and your upper body is out of the water. Perform the exercise 15 times, preferably in three sets, with breaks in between, of course.


One of if not the most popular exercises to lose belly fat can also be performed in the swimming pool. If you want to target your core, shoulders, triceps, and chest, make sure you don’t skip on these while doing pool exercises for a full-body workout. Start by facing one side of the pool and face it at arm’s length. Place your arms on the pool edge and keep them straight. Press your weight through your hands and lower your body towards the pool’s edge. Make sure you don’t move your feet from where you’re standing. Raise your body again to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

a man doing pushups as one of pool exercises for a full-body workout
Doing pushups in the pool helps you work on your chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core!

To challenge your body further: While pushing your body’s weight towards the pool edge through your hands, pause midway. Keep your elbows slightly bent and hold for three seconds. Then slowly lower your body towards the pool’s edge.

Extra tips for when doing pool exercises for a full-body workout

When exercising in the water, you may forget some of the basic requirements for working out safely. Here are a few tips you should follow:

  1. Hydrate
  2. Eat properly

Don’t forget to hydrate

An aquatic workout is just like any other workout. However, due to the pleasant feeling of the water on your skin, you will stay cool and might not realize that you sweat during this kind of workout as well. This is why experts recommend taking plenty of water with you and having a sip every ten minutes. But if you opt for more intense versions of the workouts we recommend, it’s advisable to increase your water intake. Having a sip every five minutes or so should be sufficient.

Properly fueling your body for a water workout

When it comes to adequate nutrition when exercising, paying attention to what you eat is of utmost importance for any kind of workout. But when doing pool exercises for a full-body workout, you need to pay attention to this even more. Water takes a great amount of energy from you. Remember how hungry you get after just going for a half-hour swim. But if you do any of these aquatic exercises, you will exert more energy than you would by just swimming.

Water creates resistance that makes regular movement twice as difficult. You’ll realize that when you try our exercises. This is why you need to fuel your body before any type of workout. However, since we all know that we shouldn’t eat a heavy meal before swimming, it would be best to prepare a light meal. Most experts advise having a light meal that consists of high-carb foods. Therefore, an ideal snack before a pool workout would be non-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or some granola.

bowl of granola with fresh fruit
Choose a light, high-carb snack before doing your pool exercises for a full-body workout.

Final thoughts on pool exercises for a full-body workout

You can do many more activities when you go to the pool than just swimming. As you’ve seen in this article, exercising can make your time at the pool much more enjoyable. You can have fun by doing a workout that will benefit your overall physical and mental health. So, if you find these exercises for a full-body workout interesting, make sure you try them the next time you visit a pool. There is a great variety of them to choose from, whether you want to do pool exercises for a full-body workout or just target a few separate muscles. Either way, make sure to choose exercises that are in accordance with your current physical level and the ones you know you will enjoy. After all, working out should be about feeling good, releasing those endorphins, and enjoying being physically active.

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