Aqua Jogging Explained: Low-Impact Cross Training + Rehab

Aqua jogging is a great cross-training, conditioning, and rehabilitation exercise for runners – and is surprisingly popular with elite athletes.

While the benefits of swimming for runners is well known, aqua jogging is less so! Despite it’s effectiveness, it’s not something that many runners have tried – or are even aware of.

The idea is pretty simple: you strap on a float around your middle, head into the deep end of your local swimming pool, and “run” by treading water vigorously, driving your knees and letting the water resistance do it’s thing.

Sounds intriguing?

Let’s dive in and find out more on aqua jogging!

aqua jogging guide

What is aqua jogging, and why do people like it?

Aqua jogging is essentially the act of mimicking running in a swimming pool.   

You wear a floatation device around your middle, jump in the deep end of the pool, and move your arms and legs in a running motion.

The idea is that you don’t touch the bottom, or the sides – instead, you very slowly move your way around the pool. The flotation belt is designed to keep you upright and balanced in the water, so you can focus on your aqua jogging.

People like it because it’s an extremely effective form of cross-training, and is very low impact.

When we talk about cross-training for runners, we’re talking about any non-running activity which makes them a better runner.   Aqua jogging ticks all the boxes; it uses the same muscles as running, but the resistance of the water forces the runner to work harder, giving their leg muscles a deeper workout. 

Aqua jogging is particularly effective at targeting the hip flexors, which are often chronically tight or weak in runners.

And as it’s all done in water, aqua jogging is extremely low impact – there are next-to-zero impact forces on the joints or muscles (which typically lead to injury).

aquajogging aquajogger
The AquaJogger Active – the most popular aquajogging float on the market

What is aqua jogging/running in water effective for and who can benefit the most? Why?

Aqua jogging is effective for strengthening muscles that are often left weak and neglected by running.  

Strengthening these muscles – glutes, hips, and upper leg muscles thus make the runner more powerful and more injury-resistant.

Those stronger muscles translate to better running economy – essentially, you’ll get more miles per gallon as a runner.

Likewise, stronger muscles tend to help you in long-distance races; in the latter stages of a marathon, for example, stronger muscles will help you hold your form and continue to run smoothly.

Practically all runners can get some benefits from agua jogging, but in particular, the following groups can really make a difference to their running game:

  • – long-term runners who have tight hips
  • – runners who don’t cross-train 
  • – runners who spend several hours at a desk each day
  • – runners who have recurring injuries (i.e. runner’s knee).


How To Aqua How Effectively: Tips for Aquajogging

The water depth should be deep enough so your feet don’t touch the bottom as you aqua jog.

Getting your posture right is key to effective aqua jogging. The proper posture is to stay completely upright – try to keep your shoulders directly over your feet.   

This is easier said than done; the buoyancy effect of the belt causes runners to lean forward. 

Often you need to have someone check out your posture to confirm this – it’s easy to assume you’re straight when in fact you’re leaning way too far forward.

Knee drive is a key component to good aqua jogging and helps strengthen those hips in a way regular running doesn’t. Imagine you have to physically step over something with each upwards knee drive, exaggerating the natural movement. Then kick backward – right behind you – as you release.

Aqua jogging should be done in intervals – i.e. high-intensity bursts – as opposed to one long, continuous effort (like a traditional jog).   Aim for 60-second high-intensity bursts, followed by 30 seconds of recovery.

Focus on getting your heart rate elevatedbreathing well, and raising those knees.

Keep your hands in a gently balled fist (don’t squeeze, though); this prevents you from inadvertently using your hands like paddles to aid your forward progress!. 

At times, it can be hard to stay engaged while aqua jogging – you don’t have the stimulus you often get when you go outside for a run. If possible, aqua jog with a friend so you have someone to talk to.   

If you’re aqua jogging in a public pool, be mindful of other pool users.  If the pool is set up for lane swimming, opt for the slowest lane.

The Best Aqua Jogging Belts

Here’s our selection of the best aquajogging belts to keep you afloat as you work out!

Bestseller No. 2
Bestseller No. 3

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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