Guest post: Using Aqua Aerobics to Train for a Race

I have a fun guest post for all of you today from the lovely Kaitlin who blogs over at An Apple Per Day! I loved this idea for a guest post because I’m always looking for new ways to cross train — especially when it can directly benefit race training!

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The benefits of cross-training (training in an alternate sport in order to improve fitness or performance in a main sport) are well-established, and topping the list of those cross-training workouts that have shown to be highly beneficial for long-distance runners is aqua aerobics, including aqua jogging. In fact, a regular (weekly) non-running workout will give your joints and muscles a break from the effects of running on a hard surface. Additionally, using different muscle groups and movements than used in running, which an aqua aerobics routine can provide, will help prevent injury.

The benefits of aqua aerobics and aqua jogging have been widely studied in recent years, and they are growing in popularity for people of all ages and levels of athleticism. For more reading, follow these links:

Benefits of Cross Training

Cross-training with aqua aerobics to prepare for a race has a variety of benefits, including:

  1. Aqua aerobics is low-impact and has a very low risk of injury.
  2. Aqua jogging closely mimics a runner’s land-based running form.
  3. The intensity of water workouts can easily be adjusted with ankle and wrist weights.
  4. Aqua aerobics provides a unique alternative environment for training.

To get started with aqua aerobics in preparation for a race, first determine at what level intensity you want to cross-train. To get your heart rate to 70% or above for an extended period of time, consider using ankle weights or hand-held dumbbells that are specially designed for water use.

Next, invest in a buoyancy belt. These fairly inexpensive pieces of equipment will ensure that you retain proper posture while exercising or running in deep water. The belt should fit snugly around your waist and keep your upper body out of the water. Water shoes (also called aqua shoes) will offer added resistance, which means a more thorough and efficient workout. Be sure that your attire in the pool is comfortable and free of straps that will need adjusting as you work out.

Try These Aqua Moves on for Size

Spiderman: Target your core and back muscles with this gravity-defying move for runners. In chest-high water, stand facing the side of the pool, about a foot away. Sweep your hands back and forth behind you for stabilization as you “run” up the side of the wall and then back down to the pool bottom. Do six reps, alternating the leg you lead with each time. Note, pool gloves will enhance this exercise substantially.

Core-building Plank: A strong core is essential for runners. Using a flexible Styrofoam pool noodle across the front of your body, grip it in the middle and press down firmly, leaning forward until you are inclining at about 45 degrees, but with your head just above the waterline. Try to build up to holding the plank for two minutes; rest for thirty seconds and repeat. Note: planks can be held for as long as you are able.

Cross Country Skiing: This great upper and lower body workout is a great cardio-busting runner’s workout. In shoulder-high water, start in a standing “cross-country ski” position, with one foot in front of you and one foot in back of you, with knees slightly bent. Place arms in opposite position (if right arm is forward, left leg should be back). To do the exercise, simply jump and switch the arm/leg positions. Build up to being able to do two sets, with 12-15 reps each. To increase muscle tone, use hand-held water dumbbells and/or ankle weights.

What to Remember

It is vital to maintain a stable core during aqua aerobics workouts. Check your form before each exercise, especially when using ankle and/or wrist weights. If you feel pain at any point, or excessive “day after” pain, discontinue your workout and check with your doctor.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

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