Weak abs can decrease your gym performance and make you more susceptible to back pain and muscle injuries.
If land exercises seem too strenuous for you, you can opt for water exercises to strengthen your abs. They are less rigorous and much simpler to do.
In this article, I have curated twelve water exercises that will tone your abs and help you build core strength. Read on.
What are ab exercises?
Abs exercises are core workouts that support your lower back and improve your balance. They strengthen the abdominal area and protect your inner tissues from external force or damage.
These exercises work the abdominal muscles.
What muscles make up the abs?
The abs (abdominal muscles) consist of four muscles located in the abdominal region.
Together with muscles in the back, these muscles make up the ‘core’ muscles and help keep your body stable and balanced.
The following muscles constitute the abs.
- The rectus abdominis is located at the front of the abdomen. It helps to stabilize the trunk during movements involving the hands and head. They are commonly known as the six-packs.
- External oblique muscles are located on each side of the rectus abdominis. They allow you to twist your trunk.
- Internal oblique muscles, just below the external oblique muscles.
- Transversus abdominis (TVA). This is the deepest part of the abs. They help to maintain internal abdominal pressure and stabilize your spine.
Water exercises for abs
Find below the top-recommended exercises for your abs, and how to do them.
Stand chest level in the water and grab the pool wall with both hands.
Extend your body away from the wall so that your legs are floating in the water.
While keeping your legs straight and apart, start kicking as hard as you can.
If you start to float down towards the bottom of the pool, push yourself back up to the surface and keep kicking.
Continue for 30 seconds.
Straight leg raise
To perform, pin yourself up on the pool wall with your hand stretched out to the side.
Rest your hips against the pool as you do this. Keep your legs straight and together in the water.
Then, raise both legs towards the surface of the water while pressing your lower back against the pool and squeezing your abs.
Slowly lower legs back down. Do 10-15 reps.
To do the reverse crunch in water: lie on your back in the water, allowing your body to float.
You can wrap a noodle around your back for stability.
Then, crunch your abs by bringing your knees inward and your shoulders up.
Return to start position and perform 15 reps.
Alternatively, you can move your knees towards your hands as you tread the water. See the video below.
Stand chest-deep in water with your feet hip-width apart.
Raise your right knee above the ground and swing the leg back and forth.
Tread the water with your arms as you move your legs.
Jump and hip twist
Keep your legs together in water and start bouncing on the balls of your feet while rotating your hips right and left.
Continue twisting for about 30 seconds. Perform three sets.
Straight leg kick
This is a great way to work your abs and build strong hamstrings.
Stand in a pool with feet hip-width apart. Kick one leg up straight to the opposite hand pulling the abs in tight.
Try to lift that leg all the way almost to the surface of the water.
Alternate sides, and do ten reps on each leg—complete three sets.
To do this, stay on the balls of the feet and jump to bring your knees to your chest.
Keep your abs engaged throughout the exercise. Perform 10 to 15 reps of 3 sets.
This will work your abs and obliques.
Stand in the pool with your arms stretched out forward, clasp your palms and take them below the water surface.
Slowly swoop your hands across your body while twisting the hips.
Allow your foot to pivot as you rotate your hips so that your core stays engaged and you’re safely balanced in the water.
Do 10 to 15 reps on each side. The faster you go, the more pressure you exert on the abs.
This is like a skip forward and back.
Start by twisting your hips forward and back as you move the knee across your body.
Go back and forth in the pool. Do ten reps.
Poolside hip lift
This is a great move to work the core and a bit of the arms.
Sit on the edge of the pool and place your hands beside the hips.
Push through the heels of your hand and lift your hips gently off the side of the pool.
Hold yourself up for a while by squeezing your core muscles.
Slowly lower back down. Perform 10 to 15 reps.
Sit up on wall
Stand at the shallow end of the water and place your hands on the edge of the pool.
Put a foot on the ground while you bring one leg up at a time so that your legs are resting on the top of the pool.
You can place a towel under your feet to prevent you from slipping off the wall.
Let go of the walls and lower yourself down into the pool.
Keep your arms across your chest.
While squeezing your abs, move your head up and down like you would in a crunch exercise.
The deeper you go into the water, the more pressure you’ll exert on your core.
Knee tuck with twist
This move is a little bit more challenging.
Get in the same position as above with your arms supporting your body and your back against the wall.
Kick your legs up so that your body is off the wall, and then tuck the knees in while twisting your hips from side to side.
Quickly extend your knees and repeat for 15 seconds.
Note: You will sink towards the bottom of the pool if you don’t extend your knees immediately.
With these water exercises, you can tone your abs. Remember to be consistent and follow the exercise guide.
Also, get your healthcare provider’s green light before engaging in any exercise that may affect your medication or health condition.
If you’re looking to lose weight, see our guide on water exercises for weight loss.