Aqua Jogging For Runners – The Benefits & Technique

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Aqua jogging is a fantastic cross-training, rehabilitation, and conditioning workout for runners, and it’s getting more popular among elite athletes.

It’s also pretty simple. You strap a floatation device around your middle, head into the deep end of a swimming pool, and simulate the running movement by treading water. The rest is just details.

So what’s the most effective aqua jogging method? Should you only cross-train when inured? How to make the most out of aqua jogging? That’s where this post comes in handy.

In today’s article, we’ll explore some benefits of running in deep water and how to add it to your workout routine.

More specifically, I’ll cover:

  • What is aqua jogging
  • What’s the science behind aqua jogging
  • How to use aqua jogging to supplement your road miles
  • What is the proper aqua-jogging form
  • Aqua jogging workouts to try
  • Who should and should not do aqua jogging
  • What is required aqua jogging gear
  • The pros and cons of aqua jogging
  • How to increase aqua jogging efficiency
  • And so much more.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started

What is Aqua Jogging?

Aqua jogging has gathered a lot of steam over the past few years. However, unlike using an elliptical machine or cycling, aqua jogging is quite similar to running on land—at least regarding the range of motion and muscle engagement.

Also known as deep water running, aqua jogging simply runs while in water but without touching the pool bottom. It involves using a floatation device and then moving your arms and legs in a running motion in the deep end of the pool and practically removes any jarring effect of running.

Aqua jogging is a powerful crossbreed of running and swimming that is gentle on your joints and muscles. Still, it can help keep or even boost your cardiovascular endurance and improve your running technique (we’ll dive into the benefits later on).

It simply simulates the running movement but with the assistance of water in the pool. You put on a flotation device around your midsection, jump into the deep end of the pool and move your arms and legs in a running motion.

It’s the ideal form of cross-training for runners since it mimics virtually the same running movements and employs the same muscles as running.

Your goal is to avoid touching the bottom or the sides. Instead, you move around the pool at a slow and steady pace. Buoyancy device is designed to keep you balanced and upright in the water so you can focus on aqua jogging.

Don’t have a belt? Then you can run laps in the shallow waters of the pool. Aqua running is most effective in deep water, though some specific exercises can also be performed in shallow water.

Who Should Try Aqua Jogging

From the looks of it, virtually all runners can reap some benefits from aqua jogging, but if you fall into any of the following groups, aqua jogging will be so much more beneficial if you:

  • Are nursing or recovering from an injury and you need to maintain your fitness
  • Have tight tips or are prone to injury
  • Spend long hours in a seated position
  • Don’t normally cross-train, train
  • Have arthritis since the pressure of the water can help soothe the pain
  • Are overweight and dealing with issues with joint pain
  • Have access to a pool and love to be in the water

Is Aqua Jogging Good For Runners

Of course, it is. Let me explain why.

Here’s the truth. Running is a cardiovascular exercise per excellence. But it has a huge downside – it’s also hard on your body. Surveys show that most runners will get injured at one time or the other during one year of running.

Yes, overuse injuries are that rampant, and for the serious runner, there is no bulletproof way to sidestep this nagging issue.

Aqua jogging enters the picture. Initially designed as a fix for injured and recovering athletes, aqua jogging is a fantastic tool for runners nursing an injury.

Since you’re performing similar movements to running underwater, aqua jogging isn’t hard to learn.

The Benefits Of Aqua Jogging For Runners

When done correctly, aqua jogging offers a lot of benefits to runners.

By adding aqua jogging to your running plan, you’ll boost your cardio power, improve form and build muscular strength—all while limiting the wear and tear on your muscles and joints.

Here are a few.

Maintaining Fitness Through Injury

Aqua jogging is often used to maintain cardiovascular conditioning and help recover after an injury. The water resistance, the free range of motion, and the minimum impact on bones and joints allow you to exercise pain-free without risking further injury.

Of course, don’t take my word for it.

The research examined a group of ten well-trained runners who exercised exclusively with deep water running for a month and compared 5K race performance pre-deep water and post-deep water running.

The conclusion?

The researchers reported no statistical difference in 5K time or other metrics for performance, such as lactate threshold and submaximal oxygen consumption.

In English, please. This means aqua jogging can help you maintain running fitness for up to a month, even if you’re well-trained.

In another experiment, the researchers monitored the impact of aqua jogging over six weeks. During the study, 16 subjects were divided into two groups:

  • Group I  did aqua jogging sessions
  • Group II ran on land.

Opting for the same training durations and intensities, the researchers reported no statistical difference in performance markers such as blood lactate, maximal blood glucose, and body composition between the two groups.

Helps With Recovery

Looking for a tool to help you with recovery? Look no further than aqua jogging.

Water running is the go-to option for injured runners as it allows them to run without pain or risk making an injury associated with hitting the pavement worse. It gives you that running-related workout without making your injury worse. It can even speed up your recovery time.

Again don’t take my word for it.

This research has reported that aqua jogging can be employed as a recovery tool to speed up the repair of damaged muscles after hard training. Another research has also reported that aqua jogging g while rehabbing an injury can help maintain optimal shape

So what does this mean?

This means that aqua jogging is a super useful recovery tool and the ideal cross-training method for injured runners.

Additional guide – Heart murmurs and running

Burns A lot of Calories

Research has reported that running in deep water may burn more calories than on land, so if you’re looking to maintain a healthy body weight while on a running sabbatical, aqua jogging should help.

But how many calories aqua jogging burns is tricky. The average calorie burn for a 30-minute aqua jog may hover around 200 to 250 calories. But that’s exactly what is average. So you never know for sure.

Improved Muscle Strength

Running through water is more challenging than running on land. Since water is denser than air, your movements in the water are met with greater resistance than it is used to.  Moving in water has around 12 times the resistance of air.

This, in turn, helps build strength in often neglected areas in runners, such as the hip flexors and arms/shoulders.

Aqua jogging also forces you to keep an upright posture which is a great strengthener for your core muscles.

Intense But Gentle

Aqua jogging offers a great workout that’s also gentle on your body. If you’re looking to reap the benefits of regular exercise but can’t join in because of injury or chronic conditions, aqua jogging is the ideal choice for low-impact aerobic exercise.

All runners, beginner and elite alike, can benefit from jogging in the deep water.

Build Proper Technique

Aqua jogging isn’t just for injuries. One of its main benefits is simulating land running techniques. Like when you run on land, aqua running calls for a strong and upright posture.

That’s why deep-water running is a fantastic way to improve your running technique without increasing the pounding on your muscles and joints. In other words, it allows you to focus on refining your technique in a safe, low-impact setting.

What’s more?

Aqua jogging helps improve running form because the resistance of the water makes it harder to swing your arms.

Keep your legs moving and leaning forward (more on aqua jogging form later).


By simulating land-based runs, intervals, tempo, or fartlek, you’ll reap the same benefits without adding stress to your running muscles and joints. Water running is also a safe and effective alternative to running on land on hot or cold days.

Improved Balance

Running in deep water improves coordination and balance by building strength in your supportive muscles and enhancing your agility skills in the comfort of a warm swimming pool.

The Downsides of Aqua Jogging

There’s no such thing as the perfect exercise. ALL workout routines come with downsides. And aqua jogging is no exception.

The main downside of aqua jogging is that you won’t be able to get your heart as elevated as when running on land.

What’s more?

Thanks to the water resistance, you likely will feel sore when you first begin aqua jogging.

What’s more?

Depending on where you live, you might have trouble finding a proper to practice in. This may make sticking a regular aqua jogging routine tricky.

How to Get Started With Aqua Jogging

Now that you know more about the benefits of aqua jogging for both injured and injury-free runners, it’s time to jump in the pool.

The Gear You Need For Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging requires little gear.

As a runner, you’ll want an active swimsuit, goggles, and—most importantly—a flotation belt.

The Floating Device

A good running floatation belt should help put you into a forward as if running on land. So, getting a floatation belt is key if you’re trying to focus on your form.

Some pools may have this equipment, usually near the kickboards and pull buoys. Just whatever you choose, pick a comfortable belt that does cause any rubbing or blisters on your body like some of the belts at the pool.

I’d recommend all aqua jogging beginners to use a belt as it helps keep you torose above the water—otherwise, you’ll be spending too much energy trying to stay afloat, which is not ideal.

Once your technique improves, you can run in deep water without help.

As a rule, make sure the pool end in which you train is deep enough so your feet won’t reach the bottom when you run. In addition, having the right posture is crucial to effective aqua jogging. You’ll want to stay completely upright—with your feet directly under your shoulders.

To warm up, start treading water on the spot for 5 to 10 minutes, driving your arms and legs in a running motion, and using good form

Aquatic Shoes

One additional gear to consider is a pair of aquatic shoes. These may allow you to achieve better cardiovascular intensity when compared to skimping and running barefoot in deep water.

Most aquatic shoes are designed with purposefully placed fins and vents that make it easy to increase your heart rate and keep there, which might be one of the most frustrating aspects of deep aqua jogging.

Some of these shoes are also designed with detachable cushioned insole for better comfort and arch support for stability. The shoes also feature drainage ports for fast drying.

What’s more?

A pair of aquatic shoes will help you against slips and falls. As you might already know, the smooth pool floor of shallow water makes the stage for the ideal slip-n-slide surface to glide over.

Start Slow

Take it slow if this is your first time trying aqua jogging or you haven’t been in the water for a while.

I’d recommend spending a few days getting used to the feeling of water and swimming with gentle strokes and kicks until you feel comfortable. I’m not implying that you should become a pro swimmer before you start aqua jogging, but some familiarity with the water should help

Aqua Jogging Form

Using proper form is key to getting the most from every workout. As a rule, try to mimic your natural running style.

Here are a few hints:

  • Bring your knees toward your chest and go through your full range of motion the same way you’d on land but in a more exaggerated manner.
  • While keeping your fists closed, pump your arms vigorously.
  • Keep your body straight and avoid leaning forward too much, which is somewhat different than your typical running posture.
  • Perform higher knee lifts and a more compact back kick than running on land.
  • Find a focal point at eye level ahead of you to keep your head level. Avoid wobbling your shoulder.
  • Strive to establish an efficient, smooth-running form without any excessive movement.
  • Keep your posture close to perpendicular to the surface of the pool. Imagine you have a cord through your center, pulling you up.
  • Just as you’d when pounding the pavement, run tall with your body straight and pay attention to upper body rotation. Imagine yourself running around an athletic track or along a beautiful trail. Don’t let your hands move past your aqua running belt and come up to roughly chest height.
  • Keep your core engaged and shoulders locked in place, pointing down the pool.Don’t cheat. Avoid paddling with your hands. Keep driving your arms back and forth rather than across your body.
  • Keep your fists loosely closed, and let your legs carry you forward.
  • Avoid holding on to the side of the pool when recovering. Instead, keep your legs moving as if you’re treading water, and breathe deep.

Aqua Jogging Without A Belt

Planning to try aqua jogging without a flotation belt? Then know it can be done. But it’s going to be harder and more energy-consuming than using a belt since you have to work hard to stay upright.

Using a flotation device helps make aqua jogging easier and can shift your center of buoyancy, forcing you to change your running position. But, with no belt, your lungs become the center of your buoyancy, forcing you to engage your core muscles to stay upright. But, of course, this also works at your core.

The thing is. A flotation belt helps with form, and when you’re using it, you’ll get to focus on moving fast, increasing your heart rate, and getting a good session. On the other hand, having no belt will make the workout much more challenging as you’ll work harder to keep your head out of the water.

To keep your head above water while aqua jogging with no belt, do the following:

  • Move your legs back at a wider angle than when running on the road
  • Perform fast leg turning
  • Push down your feet at the bottom of the stride
  • Keep taking deep breaths
  • Engage your core

Like swimming for the first time, with little practice, you’ll get much better and get a good workout without the belt. After that, it’s just a matter of practice and patience.

Warming Up For Aqua Jogging

Warm up for your workout by doing a few minutes of easy pool running, just like you’d do easy running on dry land. Your warm-up doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep your heart rate at around 60 to 70 percent of your max.

A Beginner Aqua Jogging Workout To try

Aqua running workouts can recreate and mimic the time-based interval format of the typical running program.

Here’s a beginner aqua running routine.

10-minute dynamic warm-up, followed by:

Three minutes of medium tempo effort—80 percent of max power.

  • One minute of running hard at your maximum speed.
  • 2-minute rest.
  • Repeat four times.
  • 5-minute cooldown.

The Pyramid Aqua Jogging Workout

10-minute easy warm-up, followed by:

  • One Minute hard – 30 seconds easy
  • Two Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  • Three Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  • Four Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  • Four Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  • Three Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  •  Two Minutes hard – 30 seconds easy
  • One Minute hard – 30 seconds easy
  • 10 minutes easy cool down.

The Aqua Jogging Fartlek Workout

10 minutes easy warm-up, followed by:

  • One minute sprint at your maximum heart rate. This is an all-out effort.
  • One minute medium jog at around 80 to 90 percent max. This should feel like a tempo effort.
  • 30-second recovery jog.
  • 30-second medium effort.
  • One minute all-out effort
  •  One-minute recovery jog
  • Repeat the tempo, sprint, and recovery efforts at random intervals for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  • 10-minute easy cool down.

Aqua Jogging For Runners – The Conclusion

I won’t lie to you and pretend that aqua jogging is nothing but a walk in the park.

It isn’t.

Running in deep water is numbingly boring and requires much more physical and mental effort than running on dry land.

There’s no scenery to enjoy while doing this.

Plus, you’re moving forward really, really slow.

But, as you can see in today’s post, it’s worth the effort.

The benefits of aqua jogging are too good to pass on.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

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