12 Pool Workout Moves for Hot Summer Days

It’s scorching hot outside. You’re already sweating just getting ready for the gym and you haven’t even left the house. Why not take your workout to the pool instead for a refreshing dip and a change of scenery?

Here, we show you 12 moves for a workout in the pool. You can do these in sets or alternate them for a circuit workout catered to your fitness level.

pool workout moves

High Knees

Yes, we all know these generally suck. But try them in the shallow end of the pool at about waist- to chest-level water. You’ll notice less impact on your knees while you’re still able to get your heart rate up. Get your knees up as high as you can and go as fast as you can for two minutes. Your abs will thank you later.

Speed Bags

This one is done burnout style to see if your legs or arms give out faster. Tread water with your legs while keeping your arms underwater and doing the speed bag motion. If this is too difficult, start by leaving your feet planted on the bottom of the pool instead of treading water. For safety, stay near a pool ledge in case you need to grab hold. Aim for one-minute intervals, and if that’s too easy, keep going until you reach burnout.  

Tricep Pushups

Using a pool ladder, the steps or bench seating in a pool, or the pool ledge, face the edge of the pool and get in a plank position with arms in close to your sides. Bend your arms down for the pushup, keeping your wrists stacked under your shoulders and allowing your upper arms and elbows to skim along your rib cage so they stay in tight throughout the pushup. Press up until arms are fully extended again. Your shoulders, neck and face should not go underwater for this exercise. Shoot for 10 reps.  

Pendulum Swing

In the shallow end, hold onto the ledge of the pool. The water should be above your hips about waist deep. Keep one leg stationary while raising the other to the side as high as you can. This works your outer thigh as you have to push against the water. Alternate swinging legs side to side (like a swinging pendulum), or do reps of one leg at a time. Aim for 20 reps on each leg. For a bigger challenge, hook a kettlebell around your foot, but be careful that the weight doesn’t drag you down.  

Knee Tucks

Similar to high knees, this exercise will get your heart pumping without the impact on your knees and joints. It’s also great for your core, as the water resistance forces your abs to work and stabilize. In water about chest-deep, bring both knees up to your chest to perform a tuck jump. Go as fast as you can for a minute or longer. Keep your chest proud and shoulders back so you don’t splash water in your face or accidentally kick yourself in the nose.  

Bicycle Pedal

Facing up and resting your arms lengthwise (making a T-shape) on the pool ledge, pedal your legs out in front of you, alternating between lengthening one leg and bending the other. For the ultimate burn, your butt shouldn’t be sitting on anything, but if you need extra support you can rest it on a pool ledge or in-water step.

Flutter Kicks

For these, you can hold on to the ledge of the pool, a pool ladder, or place your hands on a pool step or bench as you lie belly-down. Kick your legs as fast as you can behind you, keeping your legs under the water. You might be tempted to keep them at the surface and thrash them about, as the noise and splashing might make you think you’re working hard. But trust me, keeping your legs underwater and moving them as fast as you can works them way more. Aim for two-minute intervals here.   

Double Leg Lifts

Facing up, rest your arms on the pool ledge or step and lower your legs straight down into the water. Raise them up as high as you can, keeping your legs together and straight. Continue raising and lowering your legs for at least one minute. The water resistance makes this exercise challenging as your legs and core have to work to keep control. Start with 10 reps and go up if you can.  

Flybacks with Noodle

This move works your chest, upper back, and shoulders. Grab a pool noodle and straddle it like a bicycle. Start at one end of the pool and use a sweeping motion with your arms to move yourself backwards across the pool from one end to the other (both arms will start straight out in front of you, then you’ll simultaneously sweep both arms outward). For extra support, you can bicycle pedal your legs as well. Or to work your legs instead, you can take out the flyback motion completely and simply use your legs to pedal you across the pool. Try to go across the pool two times (down and back is one).

Butt Kicks

Standing in about waist-deep water, perform butt kicks as you would on land. This version is again easier on the knees and joints, and provides resistance with the water. Try to actually kick your butt with each kick, going as fast as you can for one minute.

Core Rotators

Standing in chest-level water, get in a wide stance with your feet positioned about shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms out in front of you, keeping your hands together with closed fingers. Think of this as your fin. Sweep your arms together across the water to create resistance, moving all the way from one side of your body to the other. You’ll be rotating your hips and core, and pivoting your feet as you sweep from side to side. Keep your arms underwater as you turn from side to side. Try for two minutes and do more as possible.  


Place a towel on the ledge of the pool out of the water. Place your calves on the towel so your knees are right on the edge of the pool, and lower yourself into the water in a crunch position. Crunch up and down, keeping your head out of the water the entire time and squeezing your abs with each crunch. Since you aren’t going underwater, these are more like micro-crunches, but they really isolate your core and are a good end-of-workout burn. Aim for 12 crunches, and keep going if you can do more.  




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About Amanda Ogle

Amanda Ogle is a native Texan and a freelance writer focusing on travel, health and fitness, food, environmentalism, and general lifestyle pieces. She has written for Women’s Health, Texas Highways, Furthermore, Greatist, Virtuoso Life, Virtuoso Traveler, OZY, Paste and more. She is a former editor of American Way magazine and has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. Her favorite workout is boxing, but you can also find her doing HIIT workouts, running, and walking her beloved pooch, Lady. When she isn’t working or working out, you can find her watching classic TV shows like “The Office” and “Friends,” or sitting on her patio watching a beautiful sunset. You can see her work at www.amandaogle.com.