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Aqua Jogging For Runners: Benefits, Workouts + Technique

Whether rehabbing an injury or cross-training, heading the pool is a great workout.

All our injury and recovery resources are rigorously vetted by our expert team and adhere to our Injury Guidelines.

Aqua jogging, also known as deep water running workouts or pool running, is one of the best cardio workouts for injured runners as well as healthy runners who are trying to decrease the risk of running injuries.

Aqua jogging involves replicating the running motion of dry land running in the water.

Typically, aqua jogging workouts take place in the deep end of a swimming pool where your feet do not touch the bottom, but you can also incorporate shallow water running against the resistance of the water, and you can do deep water running in natural bodies of water.

In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of aqua jogging, how beginners can get started with deep water running workouts, and examples of the best pool running workouts for beginners and advanced runners.

People aqua jogging.

What Are The Benefits Of Aqua Jogging?

Aqua jogging is one of the best forms of non-weight-bearing cross-training for runners.

As mentioned, deep water running workouts involve replicating the running motion in the deep end of the pool where your feet cannot touch the bottom.

In this way, rather than being a low impact form of cross training, deep water running is essentially a non-weight-bearing cardio workout because you are not loading your musculoskeletal system or incurring any impact stress on your legs as with land running.1Wilber, R. L., Moffatt, R. J., Scott, B. E., Lee, D. T., & Cucuzzo, N. A. (1996). Influence of water run training on the maintenance of aerobic performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise28(8), 1056. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/1996/08000/influence_of_water_run_training_on_the_maintenance.17.aspx

‌For this reason, pool running is one of the best types of cross-training for runners with stress fractures, other bone stress injuries, or running injuries in the acute stage where even low impact cross training may exacerbate your pain or compromise healing.2Reilly, T., Dowzer, C. N., & Cable, N. (2003). The physiology of deep-water running. Journal of Sports Sciences21(12), 959–972. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410310001641368

‌It is also important to note that you can do full or portions of your aqua running workouts in the shallow end of the pool as long as you do not have contraindications to low-impact exercise.

Because of the buoyancy of the water, running in the shallow end of the pool will offset some of your body weight.

Therefore, aqua jogging in the shallow end of the pool is great for injured runners who cannot yet tolerate the full high-impact stresses that you get with treadmill running or land running, yet can still start to progress from non weight-bearing exercise to low impact cardio workouts.3NILSSON, J., & THORSTENSSON, A. (1989). Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica136(2), 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x

Studies have also found aqua jogging can aid recovery and alleviate muscle soreness after downhill running workouts.4Takahashi, J., Ishihara, K., & Aoki, J. (2006). Effect of aqua exercise on recovery of lower limb muscles after downhill running. Journal of Sports Sciences24(8), 835–842. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410500141737

A lap pool.

What Are the Best Aqua Jogging Tips?

Here are some tips for maximizing the benefits of deep water running workouts:

#1: Do HIIT

One of the best tips for deep water running workouts is to do high-intensity interval training workouts rather than simply long, steady-state deep water jogging at a moderate-intensity level.

For one, incorporating high-intensity interval training is a great way to get a better cardiovascular workout in the pool. 

Because of the buoyancy afforded by water and the cooler temperature of most pools, it is very difficult to elevate your heart rate to the same heart rate zone when you are doing aqua jogging vs running on the roads or a treadmill.5Killgore, G. L. (2012). Deep-Water Running: A Practical Review of the Literature with an Emphasis on Biomechanics. The Physician and Sportsmedicine40(1), 116–126. https://doi.org/10.3810/psm.2012.02.1958

‌This can be frustrating for runners who normally do heart rate training or guide their cardiovascular workout intensity using heart rate.

Incorporating deep water sprints at an all-out effort can help you increase your heart rate into the higher zones.

That said, it is also important to understand that the heart rate response to exercise in the pool will be attenuated. If you want to train by heart rate, consider adding about ten bpm to your aqua jogging heart rate while doing pool running workouts.

For example, if you use a flotation belt and are aqua running in the pool’s deep end with a heart rate of 145 bpm, this exercise intensity level would probably correlate to a treadmill running or land running heart rate of 155 bpm.

Aside from helping to give you a better cardiovascular workout, incorporating high-intensity interval training sprints or tempo run intervals into your deep water running workouts helps prevent boredom.

Let’s call a spade a spade: replicating the running motion in the deep end of the pool for 30 minutes to an hour (or maybe more for your injured runners doing long water-jogging workouts!) can be monotonous and even more boring than a long treadmill workout.

Interval workouts help pass the time by giving you different sections to focus on, such as a warm-up, timed high-intensity intervals with a hard effort and a recovery, and then a cool down.

A person trail running.

#2: Build Up Slowly

Although it can be hard to increase your heart rate as high when you are running in water vs land running, the muscle-strengthening benefits of deep water running certainly exceed those of running on the treadmill or outdoors.

Due to water resistance, the muscles in your legs, namely the hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings, must overcome more water resistance than air resistance while running on land.

This can cause muscle soreness if you start doing super long deep water running workouts immediately. 

Beginners should build up gradually to decrease the risk of injury, such as muscle strains.

#3: Use Good Form

In my work as a personal trainer and running coach, I have encouraged many of my healthy and injured runners to start aqua jogging.

If I happen to be training in-person, I almost always see some very common aqua jogging form mistakes.

Using proper deep water running form will help optimize your biomechanics for land running, give you a better cardiovascular workout, strengthen your hip flexors, core muscles, glutes, and hamstrings due to the resistance of the water, and potentially help you improve your land running form as well.

Pump your arms vigorously, use your hip flexors to drive your knees up, and then extend your stride to kick out as you would running on land. 

You want to open your stride and use the full range of motion.

Then use your hamstrings, glutes, and calves to pull against the resistance of the water and propel your body forward.

Most importantly, I often see beginners leaning their torso forward or hunching over, particularly if they are not using an aqua jogging belt.

You want your torso to be erect and upright, like when running on land. Engage your core muscles and keep your chest up and out as you water jog.

aquajogging aquajogger

#4: Use an Aquajogger Flotation Belt

I almost always recommend that beginners use a flotation belt, such as the Fluid Running system or Aquajogger belt.

An aqua jogger belt is made of bendable foam that clips around your hips on top of your swimsuit.

The aqua jogging flotation device increases your buoyancy so that you can worry less about creating extraneous movements to aid flotation and rather focus on just mimicking the biomechanics of dry land running form.

#5: Listen to Music

When I first had to do water jogging back in high school after getting a stress fracture, there weren’t yet any good waterproof headphones for swimming, which made my aqua jogging pool workouts even more boring.

There are now plenty of waterproof headphones for runners that you can use for deep water running or swimming headphones that can get fully submerged.

Some of the best waterproof headphones for pool workouts are the H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport Headphones or the Fluid Running earbuds.

Then, you can make motivating playlists with upbeat music to help you keep a fast running cadence when you are trying to replicate the running motion in the pool.

Waterproof headphones.

What Are the Best Pool Running Workouts for Runners?

Here are a few deep water running workouts for beginners and experienced runners:

#1: 20 Minute High-Intensity Interval Training Aqua Jogging Workout for Beginners

  • Warm up with five minutes of easy deep water jogging.
  • Then, do 12×45 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery.
  • Cool down with five minutes of easy deep water running.

#2: 55 Minute Advanced Deep Water Running Workout

  • Warm up with five minutes of easy deep water jogging.
  • Then, do 3 rounds of the following:
  • 5×30 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery.
  • 10 x 45 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy running 
  • 5 x 60 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery 
  • Cool down with five minutes of easy deep water running.

Note that beginners can start with one set of the high-intensity intervals and then gradually add sets as your fitness level improves.

Overall, the key benefit of deep water running is that it is a great cardiovascular workout for injured runners because it increases your heart rate, replicates the biomechanics of running, and strengthens your muscles due to the resistance of water.

Moreover, proactively incorporating aqua jogging into your training plan is a great way to also decrease the risk of injury and capitalize on the training benefits of this type of cross training for runners.

For more ideas for cross training for runners, check out this. next guide:

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

3 thoughts on “Aqua Jogging For Runners: Benefits, Workouts + Technique”

  1. I’ve done low impact water exercises where I am not in the deep end but in the regular 4 to 5 ft of water. And I basically walk or run with my feet touching the floor of the pool as they would if I was running on land. It’s basically running in slow motion. Is this not as effective as aqua jogging where you are treading water and your feet are not touching the bottom of the pool?

    Reply
  2. Old guy….74 🙂
    – When I was a young guy I ran
    – Middle aged guy I jogged
    – Old guy I walked (joint pain)
    Discovered AquaJogger belt. Returned to my middle aged jogging days (5 feet of water for an hr.) sorry, my feet touch the bottom of the pool. Results 3.5 miles/ 600 calories burned per daily session. Plan on moving up to 5 miles next week. Absolutely excited to be jogging again. No joint pain. It such a great feeling to have “muscle memory” kick into running posture form……that’s it, just wanted to share my experience.

    Reply

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