What is the right way to pool run? Some specific questions I have are:

  • Should you use a floatation device? What type?
  • Should you just use a normal running motion? If not, what changes should you make?
  • Should you be touching the bottom of the pool?
  • Should you be moving forward, or staying stationary?

In case the answer depends on my goal, my goal is to use pool running as low impact HIIT training.

  • 2
    Until I read the third question, I thought you wanted to run ON water! ;)
    – VPeric
    Jun 20, 2012 at 8:31
  • If you can answer that, I'll give you all my rep.
    – user3085
    Jun 20, 2012 at 12:24

3 Answers 3


I do aquatic HIIT intervals with different variations on running.

  • I don't use a floatation device, although you can use something like the Aqua Jogger .

  • I don't use resistance cuffs, or resistance bands, although you can.

  • I do make forward progress.

  • I alter my motions to pull in various muscle groups. The water provides resistance so I can target different muscles during each interval. For example, I may emphasize my quads or my glutes depending on my leg motion. I also alter my arm movements. While it isn't a true running motion, I can get a good HIIT workout without impact, and a full body resistance workout at the same time.

  • I don't touch the bottom. However, if you want to work on some impact, you can wear water shoes and run in place using resistance bands. .

The AquaJogger site give you specifics on running form (which includes using their belt). But it does give good information about not leaning too far forward and using more of a cycling action as if you are "stomping grapes". They also have a pdf running handbook that covers the basics as well as using resistance devices.

You still need to make sure that you warm up well. And you can get a nice full body stretching workout in the water afterwards. One word of caution - I recommend that if you do HIIT in water, you do it in a safe area or one with lifeguards on duty.

  • 1
    Really liking the info from the water running handbook. That looks very authoritative.
    – user3085
    Jun 23, 2012 at 22:14
  • Indeed the running handbook seems to give great advice, like adding resistance to increase the intensity and the right body form to avoid injuries
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jun 24, 2012 at 10:26

I personally prefer NOT to use a flotation device, but I am kind of fluffy, and prefer to turn my hands horizontal and use them to generate lift, more than to generate forward motion. There are many different waist or upper body styles.

You should mostly use the regular running motion, it cannot be identical, but the goal is to keep it the same, as best as possible. A little more leaning forward though, as is required to make forward motion.

You should NOT be touching the bottom of the pool. Your goal is to avoid impact (depending on WHY you are water running) although if impact is not an issue, you can if you like.

You do need to make forward progress, be it ever so painfully slow.

My advice is to find a friend to do this with so you can chat. It is mind numbingly boring, and difficult to work as hard as regular running.

You can also try sprints in the water for variety.


If your intention is to use it as a HIIT type training, then running in waist deep water is probably going to be one of the better options. Deep water running is more for when you need to not have any weight bearing/impact component.

Deep water requires a bit of technique and practice so that you don't just sink. and if you have a lot of muscle mass and/or low body fat, you're going to sink a bit anyway. If you haven't done it before, I'd recommend a flotation system until you get used to it, then you can wean yourself off of it.

As others have alluded to, it's a different type of form than regular running. If you aren't using it as an alternative running form, there are a lot of other exercises you can do in water (Such as treading water, treading water with your hands above your head, etc.) that will provide a seriously good workout, and give you a little variety as well.

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