Top 10 Poolside Exercises

Photos by Jillian King.

Back-to-school may be near but there is plenty of time to enjoy the pool!  We asked Jeff Howard, international fitness expert who has taught aquatic fitness for over 20 years, to give us his top 10 exercises to do while we’re at the pool soaking up the sun!

Aqua running

Just like it sounds, either stay in one place and jog with a high knee or start to run laps! Make sure to pump your arms in a swinging motion while staying in the water. This will get your heart rate up while toning your entire body.

Jumping jacks

Just like you would do on land, but make sure to keep your hands under the water while you push off from the bottom of the pool.


Just like a twist, but make sure you start with your feet facing one direction then the complete opposite direction. Imagine you’re skiing while doing this one.

Shoot a basket

Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, push off the bottom of the pool as if you’re shooting a basketball.

Bonus Plank.

Kick front and back with one leg

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and imagine you are kicking a ball in front of you and then behind you. Repeat on other leg. This one is a great exercise for your glutes.

Clap your hands

Stand with your feet as wide as your hips and clap your hands in front of you under the water. Make sure to start with them out by your side and bring them to the front. Another option is to alternate clapping your hands in front of you and then behind you.

Tread water

Start in a seated position, take your feet off of the bottom of the pool and hold suspended without touching the bottom by moving your feet and hands. This one is great for your abs.

Tricep push-ups

Hold on to the side of the pool with hands placed firmly on the deck. The width of hands should be wider than your shoulders. Push up from the bottom, bringing your body as high as you can. For a progression, try not touch the bottom or sides while doing the dips.

Tuck jump

Stand with your feet hip width apart and push off from the bottom. Bring your knees up toward your chest while pushing your hands down.

Towel assisted sit-ups

Grab your beach towel and lie on a flat surface (grass is ideal). Place a smaller towel or t-shirt at the back of your neck, grab with both hands and lie flat. Holding on to the towel, bring yourself up to a seated position and repeat. For a progression, add a twist while going into your seated position, alternating from right to left.

Bonus plank

Keep your hands under your shoulders while holding in a plank position. Increase difficulty by holding onto elbows and alternating weight on one arm at a time.

For a full pool work- out, set your timer for 45 seconds and do all 10 exercises. Rest for 1  minute then repeat!

7 Responses to “Top 10 Poolside Exercises”

  1. Kim

    Love this!!!! These articles are so great, they help give you ideas when you can’t get to the gym!!

  2. Meredith LaMaster

    Great article and very useful tips! Please keep them up.

  3. lindsey kraft

    This is great!! I love to get a small workout in when relaxing at the pool! Can’t wait for more exercise tips!

  4. Laura Wagner

    Please make this a regular feature / column. The movements are powerful and challenging, but also accessible to anyone and can be done at any place, if you can’t get to the gym.

  5. Wade Davis

    Love these articles. Please keep posting Jeff Howard workouts. So creative!