While the concept of underwater strength training is certainly not new, it has been gathering steam recently, as all unusual trends do on social media. But this craze could hold some serious benefits when it comes to your workout and progress.
The benefits of underwater training range from increased core engagement, decreased load on joints, mental fortitude, and increased tolerance to higher lactate and CO2 levels, say sports science professionals worldwide.
“Training on the water can provide a multitude of variables to create more unstable surfaces. The wave motion creates unpredictable instability, taxing the core muscles even more,” says Dr. Naresh Rao, an osteopathic primary care physician and sports medicine specialist when speaking to Men’s Health US.
Trainer Alex Isaly also suggests that the weightless environment provided by good old H20 provides a great opportunity to deload the joints, rehab injuries, and could be a great tool in allowing athletes to work even harder without the associated risk of injury.
“Performing these exercises in the water puts less stress on the joints because the body is more buoyant, thus allowing the participant to train at a much greater effort for a longer period of time,” Isaly explains.
Australian elite performance coach Nam Baldwin also employs underwater training to complete drills designed to stress his athletes such as 3 time world champion surfer Mick Fanning. By placing his athletes under physical exhaustion through underwater training, Baldwin simultaneously increases CO2 and lactate levels, and placing emphasis on mental stability.
“What we choose to focus on is largely responsible for the outcomes we achieve. One of the very persuasive factors that dictates where your focus goes are the ‘voices’ that are talking in your head. Not only do they influence your thoughts and actions but also your emotional feelings and emotional stability,” explains Baldwin.
The latest athlete to jump on the bandwagon is British rugby superstar and former Melbourne Rebels import Danny Cipriani, who describes his underwater workout as “The perfect mix of training. Mentally and physically uplifting! “
Cipriani, having recently returned to the English team to take on South Africa, can be seen completing a series of bicep curls and presses in a recently posted Instagram video. Dealing with the associated absence of oxygen is a tool that Cipriani seems to employ in an effort to remain calm whilst also completing the strength workout.
Danny isn’t a stranger to the odd unusual workout. Earlier this week, the fly-half posted another workout video, this time taking an assault bike into a sauna to boost the effects of the already torturous machine, proving he has an open mind when it comes to the weird and wacky.