Use floating weights to increase the difficulty of water exercises.
Flat abs not only look great, they also signal that you have a strong core - which means better posture and more support for your spine. And you don't need to spend endless hours on crunches to achieve a flat midsection, there are plenty of ways to engage your abs during all kinds of exercise, including in the pool. Try these tips during your next swimming workout and feel your abs burn!
Lean against the wall of the pool in water at chest level. Hold the ball with both hands and arms extended in front of you. Lock your elbows.
Position your feet about 12 to 18 inches in front of you at shoulder-width apart.
Slowly pull the ball underwater and toward your hips, feeling the contraction in your abdominal muscles.
Release and return the ball to the starting position. Perform 10 to 20 reps.
Perform the exercise in shallower water if the exercise is too difficult. Increase the difficulty by doing the exercise in deeper water or positioning your legs together.
Stop the exercise if you feel any strain or discomfort in your lower back.
Do Some Crunches
Lean your back against the pool wall in chest-deep water.
Place your feet shoulder-width apart and slide down into a seated position - as if sitting in an invisible chair - with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Move your feet away from the wall so your knees and heels are aligned.
Exhale and slowly curl your trunk, contracting your stomach muscles. Shorten the distance between upper and lower abdominals as if you're compressing an accordion.
Inhale and slowly release the contraction, returning to the start position. Perform eight to 23 reps.
Avoid arching your lower back when you uncurl and keep your pelvis in the neutral position. Don't allow your body to move vertically up and down to complete the exercise.
Do the Twist
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in water at chest level.
Hold a floating barbell with a palms-down grip and your arms fully extended in front of you at chest height.
Slowly draw the barbell to your right, rotating your upper body as far to the right as possible. Keep your heels flat on the floor and hips squared to the front.
Return back to center and then rotate to the left side. Continue rotating your trunk from side to side, using slow and controlled motion.
Avoid this exercise if you're experiencing lower-back pain.
Practice Your Breathing
Use a deep breathing technique to prepare for water exercises for your abs and to develop greater control of your midsection. Before you begin an exercise, put your hands over the sides of the base of your rib cage. Envision your lungs as an accordion or bellows. Inhale and imagine filling your abdomen with air. Exhale and squeeze your abs, pulling your navel toward your spine. Feel how your abdomen and rib cage move during your breathing cycle. When you transition into abdominal exercises in the water, continue with deep breathing.
A Note on Your Hips
If water exercises involve hip flexion, such as leg lifts or bicycles, they'll work your hip flexors but not your abdominals. When your hip flexors are tight, these exercises can put stress on your lower back. To target your abdominals, make sure the water exercises involve spinal flexion.