The 7 Best Water Dumbbell Exercises and How to Do Them

Training & Technique
Written by: Harrison Howarth at 8 February '22 0
You are reading: The 7 Best Water Dumbbell Exercises and How to Do Them

Water dumbbells are valuable pieces of fitness equipment that are often used in water aerobics classes. They are made of EVA foam and provide resistance due to their buoyancy in the water. Water’s natural resistance combined with water weights makes for a great low-impact exercise.

Whether you are seeking a new way to get healthy or you’re healing from an injury and need a low-impact form of recovery training, water dumbbells will make an excellent option for you. Water dumbbells are available for use at most local pools, so all you’ll need is to grab a cap and goggles before you head out for some aquatic fitness training.

We’ll go over how to use water dumbbells effectively and how you can safely incorporate them into your training routine. Then, we’ll list some of the best hydro dumbbell workouts for a great water exercise session.

How Do Water Dumbbells Work?

Water dumbbells are made of buoyant foam that increases the resistance of body movement in the pool water. Unlike regular fitness dumbbells that are heavy and provide low resistance, water weights are very light and provide upward resistance. You’ll have to work hard to keep the weights submerged throughout the exercise movements.

The upward resistance provided by water dumbbells is an excellent alternative to traditional weight lifting. The upward resistance allows you to train your muscles in a new way. This can help promote muscle health and development. Plus, new ways of training will keep you from getting bored with your regular routine.

What Are the Benefits of Water Dumbbells?

Water dumbbells: swimmer holding her goggles

Training with aqua dumbbells has a number of benefits. Whether you’re new to fitness, have pain that prevents activity on land, or you’re recovering from an injury, water fitness can open the door to improved health.

The benefits of participating in pool fitness are that it’s low impact and provides natural support from the water.

Low-Impact Training

The number-one benefit of water dumbbells and aqua fitness training is that it provides a low-impact workout. Activities outside of the water, like running or heavy resistance training with weights, can be strenuous on the body. On the other hand, swimming and other aquatic exercise provide an excellent opportunity to get in shape while keeping the impact on your body low.

Low-impact training is a good option if you’re a beginner in the fitness world, as the movements performed are less likely to result in injury if performed incorrectly. It is also good if you’re recovering from an injury, and it can provide an excellent way to get back to training sooner than you could on land.

Increased Support

Your body is naturally buoyant in the water, meaning there is not as much gravity acting upon you as you workout. Because there is less gravity acting on your body, you can more easily hold yourself in a safe position to perform the exercise.

During regular weightlifting or exercise on land, the abdomen and back have to support a lot of weight. These muscle groups have to be strengthened, and proper form must be used to avoid injury.

Good form is still essential in water aerobics training, but the learning curve is not as steep as on-land training. Plus, the risk of injury is much less in the water if you perform a movement incorrectly. All the extra support provided by the water means you can train hard without worrying as much about injuring yourself.

How to Incorporate Water Dumbbells Into Your Training Routine

Water dumbbells: swimmers stretching before working out

Water dumbbells are an excellent tool to incorporate into your training. Whether you are an avid swimmer, new to the sport, or just looking for a great way to train in your local pool, you can benefit from water resistance training.

Due to the low-impact nature of training with water dumbbells, you can train frequently. Remember to pay attention to how your body feels and make sure to rest if you feel too sore or tired to train.

If you are new to training in the pool, try implementing water exercises into your program one to three times a week. If you are very active, you could use water dumbbells as a great tool to warm up your muscles before your primary swim sets.

Using light water dumbbells to warm up can boost your range of motion and strengthen your muscles simultaneously, making them great for swimmers of all levels.

Proper Body Positioning for Water Dumbbell Training

Even though there is less risk involved in aquatic resistance dumbbell training, you should still practice good form to ensure it’s a safe and healthy activity. Good form will also maximize the efficiency of your exercise movements, meaning your body will see the best results.

Like training with dumbbells outside of the water, core stability remains important while practicing your aquatic workout routines. Focus on tightening your core muscles throughout your exercise to provide stability for your body. This will also help you develop a stronger core.

As you perform the movements below, maintain an athletic stance in the water to improve your balance. Stand with your feet spread apart at a comfortable distance and bend your knees slightly. Keep your head and spine in a neutral position to avoid straining muscles in your back.

7 Water Dumbbell Exercises

Swimmer giving a thumbs-up sign

Below are some water dumbbell exercises to get you started. For a fantastic full-body workout, pair these upper-body water dumbbell exercises with a kickboard to get some serious results.

Stand in water that is about chest deep while performing these exercises. Test out different dumbbells to see what resistance level is best for you. If you’re new to exercising, start with light or medium resistance to practice your form before using dumbbells with more resistance.

  1. Bicep curls: Begin in a lunge stance with one foot in front of the other to provide balance. Bend your knees slightly. Bend over at your hips, so your chest is facing the bottom of the pool. Lift your head so it remains out of the water. Extend both arms behind you, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Alternating arms, contract your biceps, and bring the water dumbbell to your chest. Return the dumbbell to the starting position. Repeat using the other arm.
  2. Tricep extensions: Stand with your feet in line with your shoulders and your knees bent. Hold the dumbbells vertically with your arms at your sides and your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Contract your triceps and push the water dumbbell down until your arm is straight by your side. Bring the dumbbell back to the starting position using a controlled motion. Repeat with the other arm.
  3. Chest flies: Start in the bent-over position like the one used in the bicep curls above. Take a foam dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms out on either side of your body, keeping your elbows somewhat bent. Without bending your elbows any further, use your chest muscles to simultaneously push down on both dumbbells. Continue pushing until the dumbbells touch directly under your chest. Slowly raise the dumbbells back to the starting position. Keep your core tight and the movement under control throughout the exercise.
  4. Push downs: Perform this exercise in a standing position with knees slightly bent. Bend your elbows slightly and extend both arms in front of you. Hold the dumbbells next to one another in a horizontal position. Without further bending your elbows, push both water dumbbells down until they make contact with your thighs. Resist the dumbbells as they start to float back up to the starting position and bring them back up to the surface slowly.
  5. Bent-over rows: Start in the bent-over position with your legs staggered. Hold both dumbbells by your chest and about shoulder-width apart. Push them down until your arms are nearly extended, and slowly bring them back to the starting position. Think of this movement as if you were doing a pushup in the water.
  6. Dumbbell shrugs: Hold a dumbbell on each side of your body while in a standing position. You will feel the resistance of the dumbbells as they try to float to the surface. Slowly shrug your shoulders as high as you can go and focus on keeping your muscles tight. Then, push down on the dumbbells to return them to the starting position.
  7. Water dumbbell dips: In the standing position, hold the dumbbells by your sides like in the dumbbell shrug position. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Slowly bring the dumbbells up the sides of your body. Bring them as close as you can to your armpit, then slowly push them back down into the starting position. This exercise is the same motion as doing dips on land.

Try Out Water Dumbbells at Your Local Pool

If you’re looking for something new to add to your training, try out the above water workouts using buoyant foam dumbbells. With aqua aerobics exercise equipment often available at local swimming pools, you can experience all the benefits of water barbells and dumbbells. Exercising using water dumbbells is low-impact and provides natural support for your body. This type of training can help you build muscle and increase your range of motion.

Pair water dumbbells with high-quality swim training tools from arena for rewarding exercise sessions at the pool!


Written by:

Harrison Howarth

Harrison is a freelance writer with a background in competitive aquatic sports. His love for water polo and swim, combined with his passion for writing and education, drives him to continue teaching and inspiring individuals to participate in aquatics.