Swimming is one of the best exercises for building endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular health. It is a fountainhead for cross-training. Yet, all too few people take up swimming because they are concerned with full immersion. Swim fitness is an exercise program that may or may not require the skills of full immersion swimming. Swim fitness includes an exercise program for every possible intensity level you desire, from water aerobics to aquatic kickboxing, to aquatic Zumba, aquatic Pilates and even aquatic interval training and target toning:
"Swimming works your whole body, improving cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, endurance, posture, and flexibility all at the same time." 
One such simple swim fitness exercise program is swimming laps with a kickboard. No need for full immersion. Yet the kickboard is rarely reached for. What IF you had a better kickboard? Kickboards are great but they just got a lot better. The EZ Swimmer is a kickboard that is simpler with greater buoyancy than the standard kickboard but still offers all the same great benefits of swimming laps with a kickboard. Let's explore the benefits of swimming laps with either the EZ Swimmer or with a classic kickboard. Let's see if this exercise routine is the best option for you or a loved one.
We will review five different ways to swim laps complete with four different ways to swim laps without full immersion. We will review the Brittany Spears ab envy. We will learn how to swim properly with a kickboard and learn the differences between swimming laps with the Cuddle Core™ and with the kickboard. We will learn why proper form is so critical to our health. Squeezed in between all of these is a a reminder to keep our body hydrated—to drink plenty of water. Journey with me and explore how the EZ Swimmer offers one of the best ways to swim laps with the Cuddle Core™. And just for fun, there is a quiz to test your comprehension of what you have learned. No grade; just a helpful quiz to recount the several points we have covered.
5 Swim Fitness Programs to Work Your Legs to Exhaustion in the Swimming Pool
Within the world of water exercise, there are five different ways to work your legs to full exhaustion. Only one requires full immersion. There are four different ways to work our legs in the best environment for fitness with our head above the water! These include:
Swim Fitness #5 Water Walking - Head Above the Water
- Offers 360 degrees of resistance translating to a workout that is double or triple on land - 10 minutes of water walking equals 20 minutes of walking on land.
Swim Fitness #4 Water Aerobics - Head Above the Water
- Offers an intensity level for anyone and everyone! (Aquatic Kick Boxing, Aqua Zumba, Rocking Horse, Rebounding, etc...)
Swim Fitness #3 Swim Laps - With Buoyant Equipment - Head Above the Water
- Option 1: Buoyant Equipment: EZ Swimmer, Kick Board or Noodle, Aqua Jogger
- Option 2: Buoyant Equipment plus swim fins.
Swim Fitness #2 Swim Laps With No Equipment - Head Above the Water
- No Full Immersion, often with the breaststroke and/or sidestroke.
Swim Fitness - #1 Full Immersion
- Option 1: No Equipment
- Option 2: With Swim Fins Only
- Option 3: With Scuba Gear such as Snorkel without swim fins.
- Option 4: With Scuba Gear such as Snorkle WITH swim fins.
Body Board for the Swimming Pool
Steps to Achieve Ab Envy
This motto in exercise always holds true = "repetitions equal results"; great abdominal muscles - the ones that ab envy are made of - demand more than just target toning, great abdominal muscles demand great cardio, great hydration and nutrition too. To obtain the abdominal muscles of envy, your fitness program must include:
- target toning
Ab Envy - Brittany Spears
Blogger Mellissa of FitnesssNYC.wordpress.com recounts her own ab envy of Brittany Spears. In the search for great abs, the author share with us her journey for dynamite abdominal muscles:
" In my swimming/lifeguard days, I came a lot closer, for a lot less effort. One because I was younger, and two because swimming requires you to constantly work your abs to stay afloat."
Cardio, nutrition and exercise all contribute to great abdominal muscles.
Best Cardio and Target Toning Workout Are in the Water
The water offers the best cardio and target toning workouts because the water has hydrostatic pressure, the water is low impact and "heart happy". The hydrostatic pressure actually takes your resting heart rate down 15-18 beats per minute - you don't feel the workout because your heart is happy and like your joints there is no stress or strain.
The water feels fun - your joints and your heart know this first hand.
Additionally, the water is serene - adding to a total experience of great fitness and relaxation for the mind and soul.
Drink Plenty of Water - Especially for Swim Fitness
Everyone has been well coached on the benefits of drinking water throughout the day. Everyone who exercise on land is now always carrying a water bottle. And yet, when people get into the swimming pool, all thoughts of hydrating their body go out the window. Why? Do we think our body can absorb water through our skin? No, I don't believe so, we simply forget swim fitness is a workout no different than a land workout. Oftentimes we will cramp in the water simply because of lack of internal hydration. While cramping could also mean a vitamin deficiency and if it occurs often you should consult your physician, try staying hydrated first.
The rule of thumb is this - if you are thirsty, you have already begun to be dehydrated. Drink a glass of water before a workout and after. No different than a massage, you muscles need water. A workout in the swimming demands just as much attention and care as a land workout for your hydration.
Swim smart - stay hydrated - drink plenty of water before, after and while exercising in the water.
Methods to Swim Beyond Full Immersion Swimming
The benefits of swim fitness:
- Kind to the Joints - Low Impact Exercise
- Happy Heart - Lower Resting Heart Rate Allowing for High Level of Exertion
- Psychological Benefits
- Endurance Benefits - Cardio-Vascular Benefits
- 360 Degrees of Resistance - Target Toning Benefits
Not all of us care for full immersion swimming. When physicians are referring to swimming, I believe they scare people off with the thought of having to learn or relearn the proper breathing for swimming full immersion.
Swim fitness offers something for everyone - from full immersion to water aerobics to aquatic kick boxing to swimming laps with buoyant fitness tools.
Swimming laps with a kick board is different from swimming with a other buoyant devices. Depending upon the workout that you want, how you wish to have your body in the water, will determine what fitness equipment you desire.
Swimming with a kick board is the closest thing to full immersion swimming and will fully engage your upper body.
Swimming laps with a noodle or with the EZ Swimmer in the Cuddle Core™ position does not engage your upper body. This exercise movement is targeting your legs and your hip flexors - not your upper body. Swimming laps in this position is diagonal in the water - not full horizontal similar to full immersion, not full horizontal similar to swimming with a kick board.
When swimming laps with the noodle, I would recommend trying two noodles together or using the new jumbo noodles. You can rest your head on the noodle but you must keep you chin level. Hyper extension of your neck (where your chin is up and your head is extended toward your back) may place too much pressure on the cervical discs in our neck. Likewise, maintain your back in a neutral position.
Swimming with the Aqua Jogger® is a vertical to diagonal movement in the water similar to this fitness tools' name - jogging.
The options beyond full immersion swimming and beyond group water aerobics classes are many. With so many choices, I challenge you to find your top favorites. Pick two or three and mix it up - remember our mind, our soul and our muscles love variety. Change up your fitness program for better endurance, stronger muscles and more fun!
When swimming laps with any equipment, always follow proper form. This will serve to prevent injuries. Hyper extension of the back is a concern for all exercise programs. The water is very good to the muscles and joints but we as the exerciser must be conscious of the proper positioning no different than using a weight machine or lifting weights - the back must always be protected and proper posture is demanded. Shoulders back, chin level, back neutral, engage your abdominal muscles and swim on!
Latissimus Dorsi Muscles
Animated Swimming - See the Legs and Hips Work Together
Strengthening the Hip Flexors
As Swim Coach details how the kick board is commonly used incorrectly. Should be engaging your back muscles. (specifically your latissimus dorsi muscles - see the photo at the right). You want to feel pressure in your armpit.
Coach Robb in the video above gives a very concise and excellent overview of how to use the kick board correctly.
Law of Physics in the Water
When the head goes up, the hips go down. The goal for swimming laps with the kick board is to be horizontal in the water. This is NOT the goal with the swim board called the EZ Swimmer®. Like a surfboard (feet), knee board (knees), kick board (hands), the EZ Swimmer® demands proper form. The swim board called the EZ Swimmer®is best utilized in the Cuddle Core™ movement.
How is the Kick Board Different From the EZ Swimmer®?
With the swim board called the EZ Swimmer®, the goal is similar to the kick board and to engage your legs and your hip flexors. What is different is your body position in the swimming pool. It is designed for a diagonal swim. You want to use your body for resistance. You want to swim laps in a modified version. Remember the goal with the EZ Swimmer® is to keep your head up, chin is neutral or down, and your back is neutral.
When swimming full immersion or swimming laps with a kick board, your goal is to be horizontal in the water - working BOTH your upper body and your legs.
Cuddle Core™ Target Lower Body
Swimming laps with the Cuddle Core™ movement is designed to work only your hip flexors and your legs. It is an exercise that target tones only your lower body.
The EZ Swimmer is....
....an active fitness tool that is designed to make you move.
The EZ Swimmer is NOT:
..... a therapy tool, there is too much resistance for the frail or injured.
... a life saving tool, there is no way to slip your arm through for an emergency.
The EZ Swimmer is:
.... is a great piece of fitness equipment to change up your water aerobics program
... is a great way to start swimming laps - exhausting the longest and largest muscles in the human body - the leg muscles.
Protect Your Spine and Your Feet
- Keep your back and neck in perfect alignment.
- Make sure your abdominal muscles are tucked in and fully engaged.
- Your back position should be neutral and your chin level.
- Protect your feet especially if you are in shallow water.
- Always wear shoes on deck of the swimming pool.
Kickboard or Cuddle Core
Which one is right for you? While the EZ Swimmer® is one size fits all and the kickboard sizes vary, your individual fitness goals determine which fitness tool is right for you. The EZ Swimmer® was specifically designed to be multifunctional. The kickboard is singular in purpose. Both tools deliver the buoyancy and support that you need for exercise. And both tools are active pieces of equipment not suitable for therapy or for the very frail in body composition. When choosing your tool consider your specific goals—do you wish to exhaust the leg muscles only, do you need a full body workout in the swimming pool, or will you commit the time and dedication to properly use these fitness tools?
What is Cuddle Core™?
Cuddle Core™ is a method to swim laps without full immersion. Cuddle Core™ is swimming laps in a diagonal position in the water, targeting only the legs - NO upper body muscles are targeted. Envision hugging a buoyant pillow to keep your head above the water and use only your legs to move through the water.
Kick Board is a Great Fitness Tool
As the inventor of the fitness tool, the EZ Swimmer, I can speak freely about this great tool. In fairness to the kickboard, let me share a statement from a swimming expert:
"A kick board is a great tool for a beginning swimmer, and can also make a great addition to an advanced workout. It allows a swimmer to isolate the leg muscles and therefore get a longer workout, once the arms become tired. It is also a fantastic tool for a very beginning swimmer, as it will keep them afloat as they learn to control themselves in the water."
And yet, the kickboard, IF used properly is still engaging the upper body by the action of pressing the kickboard into the water and keeping the body horizontal in the water. The EZ Swimmer is simpler, it is a simple two-arm hold and a full kick—kicking from the hips to move you through the water.
One Size Fits All
One of the items that is wonderful about the fitness tool called the EZ Swimmer is one size fits all. The fitness tool is weighted specially to work with our own body weight. The buoyancy is more than a noodle. However, the majority of the resistance with this fitness tool in the swimming is our own body weight. If you have more lean muscle, you will have more resistance.
Kick boards, on the other hand, demand the "correct size." You should choose a kickboard that is long enough that when you hold the top edge of the board, it comes to the middle of your upper arm. Additionally, the board should be wide enough that your arms are extended straight out from the shoulder. source: swim.isport.com
EZ Swimmer - Fitness Tool - Easy Way to Start
Similar to the kick board, the EZ Swimmer gives you just enough buoyancy to keep you afloat. It is not a life saving tool, it is an active fitness tool that is designed to make you move. It is not a therapy tool, there is too much resistance for the frail. It is a great piece of equipment to change up your water aerobics program or simply start swimming laps - exhausting the longest and largest muscles in the human body - the leg muscles.
Swim Laps for Muscle Tone and Weight Loss Summary
The world of exercise is changing very rapidly. Our choices are becoming broader and nowhere is this spectrum changing more quickly than with swim fitness. Swimming laps with a buoyant fitness tool is a great way to change up your workout, charge up new muscles and energize your mind and spirit with new exercise routines.
Want to take it even further? Add in some swim fins and see feel how the fish feel with their fins.
Whatever exercise program you choose, give swim fitness a try - your muscle will thank you!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Kelly A Burnett (author) from Southern Wisconsin on January 30, 2015:
Thank you very much! Love all things swimming - swimming gear, swimming accessories and of course, water sports!
Mark Keane from Glasgow on January 29, 2015:
Really enjoyed reading through your article.
Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on August 15, 2014:
When I was undergoing physical therapy for my osteoporosis, the PT center had a heated pool for therapy, as well as aerobic and weight equipment. The water was heated high enough to relax the muscles, and this part of the therapy was usually done after working out on the other equipment. Boards, fins, ankle and wrist weights, and a hollow ball (chest size) were supplementary equipment for a water workout. The water was very enjoyable. I rather miss my physical therapy.
Lots of information in this hub. You've done a rather good job in taming all the topics.
Kelly A Burnett (author) from Southern Wisconsin on March 23, 2013:
Oh, you are making me jealous a home with a pool - my dream come true! My two closest friends have in-ground swimming pools. The legs are the key to swimming for both men and women - our body craves the cardio exercise. If you track your resting heart rate you will be able to see how effective your exercise program can be with your body being optimized. A lower resting heart rate is better - it means you are operating at a higher efficiency standard.
I love my swim fins and would highly recommend investing a good pair that fit you. This is a small investment when you have the swimming right in your back yard.
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 12, 2013:
This is an excellent article and very timely as we are temporarily renting a home with a pool! I was just wondering how I could get the most out of my pool workout. I look forward to trying these tips and looking into the equipment. Thanks so much!
WillSteinmetz on August 01, 2011:
Great article! This is best for swim fitness.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on January 26, 2011:
Swim fitness is the term I prefer - I wish doctors/physicians would recommend "swim fitness" for weight loss rather than "swimming". Swimming conjurs up fear. And the lack of the swimming pool is going away here in the US as more hotels and high schools are opening up their swimming pools to the public.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on January 26, 2011:
H P Roychoudhury,
You are right as always. The fear of swimming needs to be addressed as a youngster. Here in the US, the YMCA has done a great job but as the baby boomers age, the benefits of swimming must be re-marketed. Swimming is so beneficial and it can be done without full immersion. A kickboard, a fitness tool such as the sqoodle (square noodle) or the EZ Swimmer are agreat ways to get in the swimming pool.
Some prefer the snorkle but the skin on my face repels this idea so I didn't include it but it is an option that many men prefer.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on January 26, 2011:
I think the kick board is so underutilized and amazingly, it is used incorrectly. I enjoyed being about to share the proper way to use a kick board. I hope others find this helpful.
ImChemist on January 22, 2011:
Thanks for this good information , i agree with you swimming is one of the best sports and its help in weight loss .
I like your hub design its professional .
H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on January 22, 2011:
Swimming is the best exercise. The fear of swimming with full emersion will go if the practice of swimming starts right from the early age.
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on January 21, 2011:
Such an excellent Hub. This is a way to exercise that is good for all ages, shapes and physical abilities. Thank you for introducing the kick-board that can/will make a difference. Great! Bookmarked!
ed77burns on January 21, 2011: