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Water provides an environment that is just right for a high-intensity interval workout.
Because of water's buoyancy, it's easy to think of water exercise as relaxing and easy. If that's your goal, it's certainly an option, but if what you want is a workout that incorporates strength and cardio training, head to the water for interval training.
Benefits of Water Aerobics
Water surrounds your body, so it resists movement in every direction. This natural resistance increases or decreases depending upon your level of exertion. This, combined with the fact that water's density is approximately 800 times greater than air, means you can get an awesome workout in the water. Exercises that use both your arms and legs in chest-deep water are your best bet for increasing energy expenditure. To increase intensity, don't just move faster. Instead, use larger muscle groups, make your movements bigger by straightening your limbs, increase you range of motion and add drag by cupping your hands, flexing your feet or adding equipment such as paddles.
Benefits of Interval Training
Interval training uses both aerobic and anaerobic energy by alternating short bursts of intense activity with an active recovery period of a less-intense activity. It's based on the premise that you can exercise more intensely and accomplish more if the hard work is interspersed with periods of rest. Each interval consists of one high-intensity and one low-intensity set. You can vary the intervals by changing the following four variables: intensity of the work interval, duration of the work interval, duration of the recovery interval and the number of intervals. In general, a water aerobic interval workout consists of a five- to 10-minute warmup, six to nine intervals, and a 10-minute cool-down.
Water Aerobic Interval Training Session
There are many exercises that you can do in water aerobic interval training. These exercises can be categorized into six groups: walking, running, rocking, kicking, jumping and scissors. The options within each category expand significantly as you vary the direction of effort, arm movements, amount of traveling and equipment. Within each interval, your goal should be one set of 15 repetitions at a cadence and range of motion that fatigues your muscles, followed by two to three minutes of an active recovery exercise that keeps your entire body moving. If you aren't fatigued after 15 repetitions, add more resistance by straightening your limbs, making paddles with your hands or traveling with the movements. Don't forget to work both sides equally.
What to Watch Out For
When performing water exercises, it is important to maintain core stabilization. Before you increase the workload, make sure your form is correct and your muscles are ready for the extra work. Most importantly, if something hurts during the activity or causes significant pain the following day, don't do it.