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Aquatic Boot Camp Workout

Creating a water workout is like building a sandwich. Sometimes you follow the recipe and other times you get creative.

Begin with the original recipe, then alternate with different tempos, more or less fast, more or less clothing, for a minimum 45 minute workout.

This workout consists of land callisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, or flutter kicks, and water exercises such as pool sprints, treading water, buddy and rescue swims, swimming with fins, and a variety of other lifeguard and overall water comfort exercises.

You should be confident in the water and able to swim fully clothed for 50 meters without stopping, dive down to a depth of 2 meters, and tread water for 5 minutes. Practice this in a local pool before you go to Aquatic Boot Camp.

Part 1: Fun Warm Up

Shirt and shorts are worn for this part.

Each session begins with a warm up that gets the circulation going. Athletes know that to get the most out of their bodies, they have to follow a workout ritual for best results.

Warming up and cooling down are important parts of a workout. Any strenuous physical activity that begins abruptly has the potential to cause injury. When you do a proper warm up, you ease your body into your workout activity.

Enter the shallow end of the pool and splash each other in a playful way to get everybody wet. Then swim a few lengths front crawl at an easy speed. Only after a warm-up is it wise to do some stretching.

Part 2: Endurance

Shirt and shorts are worn for this exercise.

This is essentially just another warm-up exercise to get you going. It is easy to begin with wearing just simple swimwear. You can layer more clothes to make it harder.

  • 10 poolside push-ups
  • 50m front crawl
  • 10 poolside sit-ups
  • 50m breaststroke
  • 10 poolside squats
  • 50m side stoke
  • 1 minute climb out and jump in

Take a poncho break and talk about your experience with your team.

Part 3: Resistance

Add anorak and rain pants for this. Rain clothes fill up with water, making this exercise harder than the previous one.

Swim head up 10 x 25m at consistent pace. After each length, get out of the pool do 10 sit-ups or 10 push-ups. Jump back in and continue.

  • 10 poolside push-ups
  • 50m breaststroke
  • 10 poolside sit-ups
  • 50m front crawl. Fully clothed, this is not much faster than breaststroke.
  • 10 poolside squats
  • 50m backstroke using legs only. Spread your arms out sideways to create extra drag.

Take a poncho break and talk about your experience.

Part 4: Strength

Change into your heavy swimming kit, like hoodie, jeans or joggers, socks and pool shoes. Put the hood up.

Parts of this exercise need shallow water. Use the poolside if there is no shallow water.

  • Wade in from the shallow end until chest deep. Swim to the far side and back.
  • 10 submerging push-ups in knee deep water
  • 50m front crawl
  • 10 backwards submerging sit-ups in knee deep water
  • 50m breaststroke
  • 10 burpees in waist deep water
  • 50m side stoke
  • 1 minute climb out and jump in

Take a poncho break and talk about your experience.

Part 5: Endurance Challenge

Anorak over light clothes works best for this exercise.

Use interval training to help your class develop their endurance and swimming efficiency. Do not just swim the distance. Develop a sense of pace and being able to control your pace. Use the stroke progressions to develop each stroke and help your class improve stroke efficiency.

Choose one of the following, subject to the fitness level of your team:

Swim 100m in 3 minutes or better.
Swim 300m in 9 minutes or better.
Swim 500m in 15 minutes or better.

Next swim 100m, wearing shoulder loop and torpedo buoy. Swim each 25m length using a different swimming stroke, like Lifesaving Side Stroke, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle. After every length, get out of the pool, touch the wall and jump back in to continue the swim.

Part 6: Stretching

The cool down portion of your workout is also an important time to stretch your muscles. They are at their warmest during this time, which makes it the perfect time to deepen your stretch.

Take the time to stretch each muscle group that you exercised. Breathe deeply through the cool down period to help your muscles melt into the stretch.

You will find when you stretch during the cool down that you will feel less soreness from your workout. Besides helping to prevent injuries, this decrease in soreness is important for maintaining your motivation to adhere to your workout routine day in and day out.

Part 7: Cool Down

When you are ready to wrap up your workout, it is sometimes tempting to just finish up and hit the shower. Once your heart rate is up and your muscles have been taxed, it is an important time to give your body a chance to cool down.

  • Wade in from the shallow end until chest deep.
  • 10 minutes light aquarobics. This is fun in a poncho.
  • 50m relaxed breaststroke
  • 10 more minutes light aquarobics. Keep at it.
  • Relax and enjoy. Keep your kit on to stay warm.

After your workout, splash around with your friends and enjoy the water. While you keep moving, your heart rate gradually returns to its resting rate. When you have just completed a strenuous exercise session, go easy for a while. Physiologically, cooling down helps your body make the transition from intense exercise to normal activity.

Part 8: Rinse and Repeat

After you leave the pool, rinse the chlorinated water out of all your clothes. This works best while you wear them in the bathtub or under the shower, rather than bunched up on the floor.

About half the water in your clothes will run out if you hang around the poolside for 5 to 10 minutes. It won't do that in your bag.

Do not wring the water out of Spandex/Lycra clothes or you'll wreck them quickly. Use a towel to dry yourself, then take them off and hang then up to dry soon.

Your clothes will last longer if you let them dry out completely and not keep them in a damp state. If you swim a lot, wear different clothes each time, rotate them so they all can fully dry out.

Reader Comments

Aquatic Bootcamp is Awesome!

I hate the gym, and I get bored with workouts easily. Here every day has a different form of water torture, but I feel amazing when I walk out (if I can even walk out!). I've been doing the program for 10 weeks now and have not only lost 4kg in weight, but my endurance and energy throughout the course has gone up a lot. ~ Torin

Not Grandma's Water Aerobics

This is tough and definitely not your grandma's water aerobics. This training will kick you hard all the way across the pool and back. All the exercises have to be done fully clothed, both in the water and then wet and heavy on the poolside. Incredible. Never tell the instructor it was too easy. You'll regret it next class. ~ Martin

Swim Club

Our swim club started aquatic bootcamp sessions and it's tough because of the heavy wet clothes. The combination of poolside moves, swimming, and random exercises in the pool was exactly what I needed to get into a habit. I always feel energized afterwards. ~ Sandra

Fast Paced Workout

The workouts are fast paced, challenging, and incorporate a good mix of water work and poolside exercises in heavy wet clothes (no boring lap swimming). If you enjoy being in the water but are not particularly motivated to pump irons at the gym, you need to try this! Just when you think you have no more to give, you get back in the water and swim more sprints. The wet clothes are so heavy and show no mercy. ~ Marcelo

Better Than Boring Pool Laps

As a keen swimmer I always looked for something more challenging than endless boring laps in the pool. When a few friends of mine stumbled across this website, we decided to give this training a go. To save money we went to the local army surplus shop and bought simple field uniforms with rain gear and ponchos. That was much cheaper than swim shorts and tracksuits.

We now swim every week for two hours in a local pool where we can do these exercises. Layered clothing helps to vary the exercise level. Between lengths we climb and jump a lot, and do the poolside drills. It's a lot more fun than boring swimming clubs.
~ Eddie, Vancouver, Canada

UV Sun Sensitive Skin

Thank you for a programme I can use and get fit. I have to swim fully clothed with the hood up because of my light sensitive skin and high sunburn risk, so your training is just right for me. The aquatic bootcamp course is a powerful exercise and much more fun than a dry gym.

Up to four times a week I jump into the local outdoor pool and do cross training in hooded sports kit or casual clothes. At the beginning I do the warm-up exercises, then I do several laps of resistance swimming. Between the laps I do the strength training.

Then I go running in the wet clothes which makes it much harder. By the time I get home my clothes are almost dry and I enjoy a shower to rinse the chlorine and sweat out of my kit. Great fun. ~ Andrew, Brisbane, Australia

Lifeguard Team

Our team does this workout every week. My favourite part is how much they mix things up so you don't get bored! Each class typically consists some swimming laps for cardio, dry land abs/stretching, pull/kick drills for more cardio, hoodie swimming for strength, on the wall drills for added abs/strength, and more. We wear different clothes each time. The heavy wet clothes make it really hard. This is so much more than doing laps on your own and the farthest thing from water aerobics. ~ Corey

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