Woman using an Aqua Resistance Band

What are Aqua Resistance Bands (and how to use them)

Physical therapists have been using resistance bands for muscle rehabilitation and to build strength since the early 20th century. Today, resistance bands are staple items in most gyms and for professional trainers. They are an easy and portable strength training tool and an effective alternative to free weights. 

Aqua resistance bands add additional load to water resistance training or add further variety and challenge to water aerobics.


What are Aqua Resistance Bands? 

As the name suggests, aquatic resistance bands are elastic bands that use resistance to cause muscles to contract. It’s that contraction that builds strength in the muscle. 

When you lift weights such as dumbbells, your muscle contracts as you raise the weight, the weights also add load to your limbs, both going up and coming down. The resistance comes from the weight of what you are lifting. With bands, the resistance force comes from pulling on the elastic to stretch it, but with no risk of injury with heavy weights. 

Aqua resistance bands are ones you use underwater while working out in a pool.  Water adds resistance to your movement already. You increase that resistance with aqua resistance bands for a more challenging water workout. Aqua resistance bands can be effective in the treatment and prevention of common injuries, too. Regular use of aqua bands will improve strength and flexibility.

We recommend the RiderBand made by Hydrorider. It is purpose made for water so suitable in your home pool environment and dries quickly. The. RiderBand has 10 options (5 each side) for a wide variety of exercise options.


The Benefits of Aqua Resistance Bands

Aqua resistance bands seem like such a simple concept, but don’t let that fool you. You see some real benefit from using them as part of your aquatic workout routine.

You can use these bands to:

  • Tone and strengthen your muscles — The band adds load to the limbs that help to build both upper and lower body strength. The buoyancy of the water helps to protect your joints at the same time. Because you are in the water while exercising with the bands, you must use other muscles to stabilise your body, adding even more strength to the core. 
  • Flexibility — The warmth of the water relaxes the muscles and reduces body weight. Along with the massage from the water, this enables greater flexibility. When you add on the load the resistance band creates, the movement creates strong, lean and flexible muscle. 
  • Rehabilitation — Aqua resistance bands allow you to do strength training in a safe environment. The water buoyancy helps to support your body and puts you in control of all your movement without working against the forces of gravity and the risk of straining muscles and joints. The various options of the band allow you to work on specific muscle groups. 
  • Low-impact workout — Water provides you with a flexible environment that supports your joints and reduces the impact exercise can have on them. 

Aqua resistance band workouts also help to build muscular endurance. The more you challenge your muscles, the stronger you will feel. 


How do you use Aqua Resistance Bands?

The aqua resistance bands give you more options than when working out of water. This is due to the buoyancy and the instability the water creates. 

There are many ways to use aqua resistance bands. Here are a few examples.


Lower Limb Aqua Resistance Band Exercises

Suspended Ski

This movement requires your buoyancy to pull your legs up, so you are lying on your side in the water as you kick. Use your arms to help keep your head above the water and your body floating. 

The Suspended Ski exercise engages your core, especially the obliques while working your legs, glutes, and hips at the same time. 

How to do it

  • Place your feet into the aqua resistance band and pull it up above your ankles. Leg length determines which hole you place each foot in on the band. Choose what works for you. Test it by pulling on the band. You should feel a strong pull. 
  • Position your body in the pool with your legs to one side. 
  • Scissor kick your legs, stretching them as far as possible while wearing the resistance bands. 
  • Imagine if your legs were down and you were skiing. It is the same movement, except your legs are floating to the side in the water. 

Do one side for 30 seconds and then switch to the other side. 


Knee Kick

The knee kick exercise will improve the strength in your legs, abs, and lower back. It is also a great way to improve your balance and flexibility. 


How to do it

  • With the resistance band still above your ankles, stand with your feet two or three inches apart and your hands on your hips. 
  • Lift your right knee up so your thigh is parallel with the pool floor, and hold it there. 
  • Kick your foot out in front of your body and return it without lowering the leg. 

Do 8 to 12 reps with each leg. As you get stronger, do up to three sets. 


Upper Limb Aqua Resistance Band Exercises

The upper limb aqua resistance band exercises allow you to use the resistance from the bands and the water to tone and sculpt your arms. 


This is a twist on an old upper limb favourite. Great for the upper backs and arms. 

How to do it

  • For the row, you are going to hold the aqua resistance band in each hand. 
  • Slide one foot at the halfway point on the band. The band should form a “V” now. 
  • With your palms facing upward, pull the band with both hands toward your body.
  • Return your hands to their starting position.

Do 8 to 12 reps with each leg. As you get stronger, do up to three sets. 



Another old favourite for oblique, core, arm, and upper back strength. 


How to do it

  • Place on foot in a loop on one end of the aqua resistance band.
  • Grab the other end with your alternate hand. 
  • Pull the band with your hand up and across your body.
  • Lower your hand back down near your hip and then repeat the movement. 

Do 8 to 12 reps with each leg. As you get stronger, do up to three sets. 


Core Killer Resistance Band Exercises

From the traverse abdominal to the obliques, your core muscles are most important for strength and stability. Exercising your core is critical to overall fitness. You can do it on land, but everything is more fun in the pool. 

Suspended Knees to Chest

The suspended knees to chest exercise is like a bicycle crunch, but you do it while staying afloat in the water. 

How to do it

  • Place your feet in the resistance band and pull it just above your ankles.
  • Pull your legs up in front of you with your knees bent. Your legs and your back should form a “V” in the water. Use your arms at your sides to keep you afloat in the water. 
  • Pull your knees up toward the water while keeping the rest of your body stable. You should feel the resistance band stretch as your knee moves up. 
  • As one knee comes up, the other one should go down almost as if you were pedalling in the water. 

Do 8 to 12 reps. As you get stronger, do up to three sets. 


Suspended Sizzor Kick

For the Suspended Sizzor Kick, your legs are out in front of you in the water. Use your arms to keep your head above the water. The resistance band should be above your ankles. 

How to do it

  • Keep your legs stretched out in front of you with your toes facing toward the waterline. 
  • Pull one leg up as you push the other down. You should feel the aqua resistance band stretch. 
  • Once you extend both legs fully, reverse them. Push the upper one down in the water as you pull the lower one up in a scissoring motion. 

Do 8 to 12 reps. As you get stronger, do up to three sets. 


HIIT Variation Resistance Band Exercise

If you are looking for high-intensity interval training, you can do that with an aqua resistance band, too. 

High Knees Run 

Run in the pool? Sure, you can with a little help for a water resistance band. For this exercise, you want the band above your ankles. 


How to do it

  • Stand in the pool with your feet together
  • Lift your right knee. 
  • As you push the right knee back down, pull the left knee up.
  • At the same time, pump your arms the way you would if you were running. 

Go slow at first and pace yourself, then increase the speed to sprint, then slow again. 


Suspended Toe Taps

Suspended Toe Taps take water running to the next level.

How to do it

  • Pull your knees up to your waist. The aqua resistance band should be above your ankles. 
  • Now, scissor your legs with the knees bend as if running in the water. Keep your knees bent, though, as you move. 
  • As you pull one knee up high, push the other down under your body, keeping the knee bent. Your feet should never touch the pool floor. 
  • With each knee movement, move that the arm in the same direction. So, as the right knee goes up, pull your right arm up. As it drops, push your arm down to tap the toes on the opposite foot. 
  • Alternate tapping the toes on each foot as your knees move up and down. 

Go slow at first and pace yourself, then increase the speed to sprint, then slow again. 

For further details on the Hydrorider RiderBand and how to order it in Australia visit the shop.

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