Swimming is a near-perfect form of exercise for people of all ages. It is incredibly low impact, presents less risk of injury and muscle strain, and is an excellent form of rehabilitation. However, some people may not like laps in the traditional sense or maybe are just looking for a good way to tone their muscles. For those individuals looking to add a twist to their swim routine, they should consider bringing alone a kickboard.
Why use a kickboard during exercise?
Despite some beliefs, kickboards are not solely useful for the young and the infirm. Kickboard provide an added benefit for swimmers and aquatic exercisers out there who want to keep fit or to work on their swim stroke. Swimming is a multitasking sport—there are all sorts of elements on which the swimmer has to focus. Adding an in-water training aid allows you to calm one aspect of the swim stroke (the arms, in the case of kickboard use) to allow you to focus on your kick.
Kickboards can also be used in a variety of ways to add resistance in the water, specifically in aquatic fitness practices. While there are all sorts of water belts and foam hand weights, sometimes all that’s necessary for a great workout is one of the ubiquitous foam kickboards that are likely stacked against the wall of your local pool.
Kickboard exercises can help you target specific muscle groups, allowing you to create resistance for chosen muscle groups.
Kickboards are lightweight, durable, and versatile. They often help beginners learn how to swim, aid competitive swimmers in refining their kick, and help athletes rehab injuries because the joints are given much needed rest while attending to the muscles of the body. They are made by all the reputable swim companies (Finis, Nike, TYR, Speedo, etc.). Many kickboards also come in junior sizes to better accommodate small bodies.
Most quality kickboards are made of EVA or HDPE foams that last a long time and are highly hygienic. Some may have cut-outs for easy gripping along the sides, but most will just have a slight curve to the hose where you can hold on.
If you think you’d like to bring a board along to your aquatic workout, here are a few easy-to-follow swim exercises that will utilize your kickboard and target specific muscle groups.
A version of the pushup, you can do kickboard pushdowns in the water. You work the same muscle groups and have less strain. To complete this exercise, stand WAIST-DEEP in water and put your hands shoulder-width apart on the board in front of your body with your hands placed near the edge of the board. Use your arm and core to submerge the board in front of you until your elbows are straight. Keep your ab muscles tightened and in a controlled motion, bring the board back to the surface of the water. Repeat 10 times and do 2 or 3 times.
Another good upper body workout is in a resistant arm exercise. Stand in CHEST-HIGH water with your legs shoulder-width apart with abs contracted for balance. Extend your RIGHT arm and hold the board with your hand on one end. Keep your left elbow close to your torso and pull the forward down through the water and toward the center of your body. Move the kickboard back to starting and repeat until you achieve muscle fatigue. Work up to 5 reps. SWITCH sides and perform another set on the opposite arm.
HIP AND GLUTE
The kickboard allows you to glide through the water with your arms resting, which is great for lower body workouts.
This particular kickboard exercise targets your abs, hamstrings, and glutes. With your kickboard underneath your stomach, lift one of your legs up and to the side, keeping your back straight. Lift your leg slowly as high as you can WITHOUT turning out your ankle. Low your leg and repeat. Do a full set of reps for each leg while keeping good form. SWITCH to your opposite leg.
For an extra aerobic boost, try out this exercise. Begin standing in water that reaches to your armpits, standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. Hold the kickboard in front of you with both hands, keeping it close to your chest. Bend your knees slightly while bending your elbows at a 90 degree angle. With your abs tightened, walk forward with the kickboard in front of you. The water will create natural resistance and help work muscles in the upper and lower body.
There are plenty more suggestions online for great resistance-based water workouts. Just find one that works for you! Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when working with a kickboard:
- Stretch your body on the kickboard when it’s in use. The idea is to imitate proper body positioning and not to adopt any bad habits that will need correcting once the kickboard is removed.
- DON’T lean all your body weight forward into the board. This is a bad habit contrary to proper swim form that will need correcting.
- DON’T lift your body out of the water. This creates a curve in the spine and may strain your back.
- Remember (especially with children) that a kickboard is NOT a lifesaving device. Although it’s buoyant, it is no substitute for supervision or other appropriate flotation devices.
- If you’re working to rehab a shoulder injury (particularly if it’s swim related), be CAREFUL not to overextend your arms during these workouts. You’ll run the risk of reinjuring yourself in the process. A kickboard is there to help eliminate unnecessary arm movements/strain.