Countless exercises target the core—but the majority are land-based. What happens when you bring core work into the pool? The aquatic environment complements this type of training and challenges participants in new ways. While the core is activated during most of a water fitness class, setting aside time for core-specific drills can inject even more fun. Try the following variations in your next class.
The plank is an amazing core exercise on land. In the pool, the water pushes and pulls on the body, adding a challenge.
- Stand on the pool floor and brace your core.
- Hold onto a foam noodle and press it straight down into the water. Lean forward until your body is in an incline plank position.
- Practice stabilizing your body for 1–2 minutes.
- Progression: Gently scull your hands back and forth without the noodle.
Basic crunches are a mainstay; up the ante by doing them in the pool.
- Float on your back.
- Place your lower legs on the pool deck up to your knees, with the backs of your thighs resting against the wall. Lie flat in the water in a basic crunch position.
- Using the abdominal muscles, pull the upper body out of the water toward the knees. Gently lower yourself back into the water (avoid splashing).
Supine Dolphin Kick
In addition to working the abdominals, this move targets the gluteals, back and leg muscles.
- Start on your back, with your body in a streamlined position. Place your hands on top of each other, overhead.
- Rest your head on your arms, with core engaged and legs long (think full-body stretch).
- Keeping the legs together, begin to move your core in a fluid up-and-down motion, like a dolphin.
- Generate power from the core—not the legs. Perform the move for 30 seconds, and rest.
- Repeat four or five times.
- Hug a beach ball to your chest and float on your back, legs extended.
- Keep your body as streamlined as possible.
- Roll left and over the top of the ball, making a full revolution. Return to start position.
- Take a breath and relax before rolling toward the right side.
- Modification: Rock side to side.
Synchronized Ballet Leg
This challenging move takes a page out of synchronized swimming’s guidebook.
- Lie on your back while sculling your hands at the sides.
- Brace the core and bend one leg (the knee is above the surface).
- Continue to extend the leg until it’s pointed toward the sky. Keep your body on the water’s surface.
- Continue sculling the water with your hands while engaging the core (this is key). Do not hold your breath.
- Extend the leg for 10 seconds before returning to the bent-knee position
and then the streamlined position.
- Repeat with the opposite leg; 10 repetitions.
- Modification: Keep the raised leg in tabletop position.