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Get a Full Body Workout in the Pool with These 6 Exercises

Person swimming in indoor pool


With summer on our doorstep, many of our thoughts turn toward the idea of lounging by the pool and relaxing or getting into the water to splash and play games with our kids, always on the lookout for a reprieve from the high temps. 

However, what if instead of simply getting in the pool for a bit of leisure time, we used it as a way to step out of our regular fitness routine and shake things up? 

Getting a workout in the pool is not only a refreshing change of pace, but it can also offer some huge benefits that you just don’t see with land-based exercises. Since water resistance is heavier than air resistance, working out in the pool can make some of your exercises more challenging. However, on the same hand, it’s a gentler form, the buoyancy of the water providing extra support for muscles and joints, making it a go-to for anyone with prior athletic injuries or medical conditions such as arthritis or chronic joint pain. 

Here at Westwood, your local Kansas City wellness center, we offer not one, but two outdoor adult-only pools, strictly available to our adult members 21 and up. While this area can be an oasis for relaxation, it can also be utilized for a mature workout space in a disruption-free environment. 

In the chance of inclement weather or if staying out of the sun is simply your preference, head down to our luxurious, heated pool instead. The whole spa area has been recently remodeled and includes unparalleled, high-quality amenities, such as eucalyptus-infused towels, a water bottle refill station and an expansive hot tub. This is open and available year-round, allowing you to throw on a swimsuit even during the chilly winter months. 

No matter which pool you use, be sure to check out these six exercises to maximize your time in the water and get a great full-body workout.


To start off with a simple yet effective exercise, try to begin with walking through water. This targets your arms, core, and lower body. A good way to increase intensity is by adding hand or ankle weights.

  1. Test the waters by beginning in the shallow end, around waist height.
  2. Rather than walking on your tiptoes, lengthen your spine and walk by putting pressure on your heel first and then your toes.
  3. Keep your arms at your side, in the water, and move them as you walk.
  4. Engage your core and stand tall as you walk.
  5. Continue doing this for 5-10 minutes.

If you’re wanting a good exercise to target arms, try adding some water lifts. Using foam dumbbells will increase resistance. 

  1. Stand in shoulder-deep water.
  2. Hold your palms facing up. If you have dumbbells, hold onto those.
  3. Draw your elbows up close to your torso as you lift your forearms to the height of the water.
  4. Rotate your wrists to turn your palms face down.
  5. Lower your arms back to the starting position.
  6. Complete 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise.
Woman in pool holding foam weights working out and smiling

For an upper-body focused workout, incorporating lateral arm lifts is key. While this can be done without the use of foam dumbbells, including them will increase resistance.

  1. Go to shoulder-deep water and hold your hands or dumbbells at your side. 
  2. Raise your arms to the side until they’re level with the surface of the water.
  3. Lower your arms back down to the sides.
  4. Complete a circuit of 1-3 sets with 8-14 reps.

Regular jumping jacks are a great workout no matter what, but doing them in the water can add more resistance and increase difficulty. Great for a full body workout and a bit of cardio, follow the steps below. Feel free to add ankle and/or wrist weights to really level up. 

  1. Stand in chest-level water. 
  2. Start with your feet together and arms at your side.
  3. Complete 1-3 sets of jumping jacks with 8-12 reps.

To target the core and lower body, try adding some high-knee lift extensions to your water routine. These can be done by completing the following steps:

  1. Begin in waist-high water.
  2. Engage your core as you lift up your right leg, bending your knee until your leg is level with the water.
  3. Hold this pose for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Extend your leg straight out and hold for another 3-5 seconds.
  5. Keeping your leg straight, slowly lower it back down. 
  6. Repeat these steps with your left leg.
  7. Continue for 5-10 minutes.

Leg kicks are perfect for working your core and your legs. To amp up resistance, add ankle weights.

  1. Once in the pool, hold onto the ledge or a kickboard.
  2. Flutter kick your legs.
  3. Scissor kick your legs open and closed.
  4. Do a breaststroke kick with your legs.
  5. Follow with dolphin kicks.
  6. Do each kick for 1-3 minutes, rotating between each one.

Whether in water or on land, staying mindful of your health and wellbeing should be the top priority. Below are a few things to keep in mind regarding aquatic exercises, a few safety concerns can occur that are a bit different from your standard workout. 

When you’re exercising in a pool, it can be harder to notice when you’re sweating or feeling dehydrated. Heated, indoor pools can be humid as well, which can quickly add to your exertion. Be sure to still drink plenty of fluids before and after entering the water. Avoid working out in a pool that’s heated about 90°F.

If you’re not a strong swimmer, be sure to start off with a buoyancy belt or some kind of flotation device when trying out these aquatic exercises. Especially don’t add any ankle or wrist weights until you’re confident with the movements listed above.


To become a member of our Kansas City wellness center and have year-round access to our amazing pools, be sure to fill out a membership inquiry. Dive on into wellness! 

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