If you’re saddled with a weak posture, standing desks or high volume deadlifts aren’t the answer. Instead, use these exercises in water to rejuvenate your entire physique’s imbalances and gear yourself towards total body performance.
Expert – Melisenda Edwards: Running and triathlon coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor and author of “Deep End of the Pool Workouts” – hitmethodfitness.com
In the athletic game, it’s those with long-term experience who have a unique perspective on what’s really important.
They appreciate that balance is key to the efficacy of a well-planned routine, because, for anyone new to training, it can be tempting to just work on what you see in the mirror.
For all the effort that you put into your core, pecs and quads, it can be easy to ignore the posterior chain, but doing so can jeopardize your stability and can leave you vulnerable to injury.
What’s the key to fixing this? Exercises in water are great place to go swimming for a permanent cure.
Why you need a strong posterior chain
1. Injury resistance
2. Zero back pain
3. Improved core strength
4. Maximum athletic function
5. Stronger spine
6. Higher vertical jumps
7. Maximal acceleration
8. Faster deceleration
9. Better symmetry
10. Near-perfect posture
How water workouts cure physical imbalances
The telltale signs include a slumped posture where your shoulders are rounded forward.
This is often due to prolonged activities that include training the anterior (fronts) of your body or spending an inordinate amount of time at a desk or even video gaming. What this position is screaming is that your posterior chain is weak and stretched out, and the anterior chain is strong, yet excessively tight.
You could bang out hyperextensions, but a safer and more effective option is strengthening your body in water, as this practice can serve to balance the body and gear it toward improved performance. From a coach’s perspective, when they look down into the water at an athlete, they’ll see every weak point.
This includes a lack of range of motion. Water training tends to heighten the weakest parts of your body and point it out.
As far as the posterior chain goes, water will force you to be engaged when the body is moving, whether generating active movements or providing stabilization for the anterior chain movements.
Sadly, on land with the feet on the ground, the posterior chain does not need to be as engaged as strongly, which can lead to the anterior chain becoming dominant.
When jumping into a pool to work and correct your posterior chain, there are a few key water strokes geared to activating and strengthening this Rosetta stone of athletic performance. Here’s what you should do…
How to use exercises in water
Swap out some of your land-based training for a water workout of the same muscle location/intensity, especially if your joints need a break. For this pool-based workout in particular, perform each one at a time or mix it up. It’s up to you.
A word of warning: these workouts involving exercises in water are way more intense than you might realize, so don’t be tempted to do a pool workout in addition to your similar land-based training – train smart to avoid injuries and burnout.
1. Reverse Water Walk
This stroke starts like a run with a twist to your torso, which involves an extension of your limbs to create a sweeping power stroke.
Your hands are held in a reverse with your arm rotated so that the thumb points up but with the arm still under the surface of the water.
The arm sweeps through the water and finishes slightly lower, almost behind you. This engages your upper back and promotes scapula retraction.
Try this move for one minute; recovery jog for 30 seconds. Repeat 5-7 times.
2. Cross Country
This involves a counter swing of your legs, but they are held a little straighter with just a slight bend, as they sweep forward and back.
Each movement is strongly grounded in the abs in order to support the increased power and to stabilize the lower back/spine.
The focus is to drive more power from the front to the back, rather than that back to the front. Keep your toes pointing up when the leg is forward; it can relax in the back.
Try this move for 45 seconds; recovery jog for 15 seconds. Repeat 8-10 times.
3. Water Run
In the power phase of a longer reaching water run, the stroke extends to the front position and the legs try to scoop a bit more water when pulling (driving the power) to the back position.
With the arms following suit, the stroke will appear like a slow-motion hurdler moving down a track.
This type of water run will activate your entire posterior chain, while still keeping your entire anterior chain activated.
Try this move for 2-4 minutes; recovery water walk for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-5 times.
4. Karate Kick X-box
In a standard Karate Kick, the motion is a countering kick with one leg driving forward while the other leg drives backwards.
The longer the reach, the more the hamstring will need to stretch and then work to drive the leg for the back-kick.
To add the X-box, take the legs from the direct forward/back, to a motion more laterally.
By countering the KK with a punch, this will activate the upper body and core as well.
Try this move for 20 seconds; recovery jog for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
5. Breast Stroke (legs only)
This stroke is similar to the sweeping motions performed in a Water Walk, however the power is all happening at the same time.
Your legs should reach out slightly in front of the body, catching the water with a dorsiflexed foot, and following with a hamstring curl.
The legs finish with the feet behind you, knees pointing to the floor of the pool. Keep your arms on your waist or across your chest, to focus on the posterior chain.
Try this move for 30 sec to one min; recovery jog for 30 seconds. Repeat 5-7 times.
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