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Five aquafitness exercises for your legs

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My name is Antoine Bernard-Lalonde, I am an international level swimmer, student of physical education. I also work as a swimming coach and aquafitness instructor. I have offered aquafitness classes in several Le Groupe Maurice residences such as Le 22, Le Boréa and Les Jardins Millen. In my opinion, aquafit or any other aquatic exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen and train. The water allows us to float and therefore put less weight on our limbs and promotes a unique workout by the strength we have to apply in the water. We can do both strength training and cardio in the water. It is therefore my pleasure to present you with a series of leg exercises that you can do in the pool. Happy aquafit!

 

During my university studies, I studied bones and muscles, their connections and functions. This made me realize the complexity of the lower body’s musculature and the multitude of functions that these muscles perform for everyday movements and activities such as walking, sitting, descending a staircase or avoiding obstacles on the pavement. Even standing still brings our muscles into play.

Considering that from age 30 on, our muscle mass and strength diminish due to lack of exercise and activity, it becomes important to maintain, through physical exercise, this part, and all other parts, of our body.

I’m giving you 5 leg exercises that can be performed without a great deal of effort or hard work. The water in the pool helps reduce body weight and lets you move without discomfort or restriction.

It’s important to do them at your own pace, starting with a few repetitions (5 to 10) and gradually adjusting the rate by adding, for example, 5 more reps per week or per session. Listen to your body.

 

#1 Holding a pool noodle

I know from experience that getting into position for this exercise is harder than actually doing it. Place the sole of your foot on the middle of the noodle. In the picture, my hands are holding the noodle because of gravity, but you don’t have to hold it. You’ll see that it requires some balance; if you find it difficult, I suggest that you lean your back against the side of the pool, get into position and begin. You’re going to raise your knee and bring it back down. You should concentrate on controlling the noodle. Once your knee is back down, you can, with the noodle still under your foot, bring your leg out a little to the side and return to the original position. You’re going to work the muscles around your hips and crotch. You could do 10 knee lifts and 10 leg side movements and change legs. Once you’re used to it, I invite you to do 1 knee lift and 1 leg side movement for 20 repetitions.  Alternating the exercises prevents you from quickly tiring out one specific muscle.

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#2 Open/close squat

This exercise is very simple. Holding onto a board or any floating object, put yourself into a squat position as if you were sitting on a chair. Once you’re in that position, you’re going to open and close your knees, doing a little jump each time. You can do five knee openings and closings before getting back up and starting again. More difficult? Do a squat, close, open, jump back up and repeat for 10 repetitions. You’ll work on your muscle strength and speed thanks to the bent leg movements.

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#3 Dance

Another simple exercise to do. Holding a board or any floating object, kick your legs forward one at a time. The goal is to imitate a French cancan. In the picture, my legs are straight and I’m kicking them forward, but you could kick toward the opposite side (right leg to the left and vice versa). You’ll work your abs at the same time, because you should hold your leg kick and stay balanced. You could do 10 slow and 10 fast repetitions, 3 times (60 kicks). To increase the difficulty, bend your knees: you should imagine yourself doing the Ukrainian “kazatchok” dance.

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#4 Big calves

This exercise primarily works the calves. You can start by just lifting your calves, that is, going up on tiptoe and coming back down. Concentrate on getting up on your toes as much as possible. To make it easier, you could take a floating object to improve your balance. To make it harder, after a few repetitions, finish your calf movement by jumping. The goal is to jump using only the strength of your calves. Because of the water, you have no gravity and it will be easier to do. It’s a bit like a standing jump or one that uses no muscles except your calves and thighs (jumping with straight legs).

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#5 Bend and punch

This exercise can be done with or without an object. There are two ways to do it: the first is to bend one knee to the side or forward, keeping the other leg outstretched to the opposite side. You could keep this position static for 10-15 seconds, come back up and repeat. You could also do repetitions, by bending and coming back up without taking the static position. The second way is to use your arms at the same time. So while you’re bending your legs on one side in a static position, you punch. Hold the static position, do 6-10 punches, come back up and repeat with the other leg.

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