Get a Workout in Your Hot Tub: Exercise Ideas & Equipment
By Jennifer Rhodes · Updated
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Exercise, but in a hot tub. It's a great idea, right? Well, I think it is and so do millions of other people who have been using their hot tubs (or purchasing swim spas) just for this reason.
You can use a whole slew of fitness equipment in a hot tub. From buoyant aquatic dumbbells to hand/ankle weights for total-body resistance, there's no reason you can't get a great workout in your spa.
So, if you are interested in getting an aquatic workout at home, read on to learn about the best hot tub exercise equipment, as well as tips, workout ideas, and all the information you need to get in the best shape of your life—all from the comfort of your hot tub.
Aquatic dumbbells are a fantastic option for getting the best arm workout possible while exercising in the water. These dumbbells, designed specifically for use in water, can add resistance to your arm workout, helping you to tone and sculpt your arms and upper body. They are made with buoyant materials to give your body an effective and muscle-building workout.
The best aquatic dumbbell sets for hot tub use
If you are looking for some aquatic dumbbells for your hot tub workouts, here are a few great options for all budgets.
The Sunlite Sports aquatic dumbbell set is made from a high-quality, durable, and high-density EVA-foam. These dumbbells are very buoyant making them more resistant under the water, giving you that much better of a workout.
TheraBand's aquatic dumbbells are swim coach and professional therapist approved. They come in various sizes and buoyancies to provide a workout to match your needs. You can start with the Light set if you're a beginner, and then progress up through Medium and Heavy as you get stronger.
Top of the line
These AquaLogix all-purpose aquatic bell sets are a little pricier than the other options, but they have a unique and versatile design. These aquatic fitness bells cover your hands like a glove while you grip the bar inside, giving you a more convenient and effective workout, with even more resistance in the water.
Hot tub exercises to do with aquatic dumbbells
Interested in aquatic dumbbells but not quite sure what to do with them? Here are a few popular exercises you can do at home in your hot tub:
- Bicep Curls (tones and strengthens biceps): To do a bicep curl correctly, sit up straight with your arms grasping the weights at the sides of your body. Slowly bring the weight up to your shoulders, then slowly bring them back down to your sides.
- Arnold Press (works back and shoulders): Sit up straight with your arms bent, at shoulder height, holding the weights. Lift the weights up above your head, then rotate your hands so your palms face each other at the top. Lower and repeat.
- Karate Punch (tones and strengthen biceps, triceps, and other arm muscles): While sitting in a hot tub with the water chest high. Hold the weights close to your chest and punch outwards into the water, then quickly pull the weights back in towards you. The water will provide both support and resistance.
- Shoulder Shrugs (sculpts the shoulders, relieves tension): Standing or kneeling in your hot tub, hold your arms straight down, pressed against the sides of your body, dumbbells in hand. Resisting the temptation to release the pressure, shrug your shoulders up and down in a slow, methodical movement.
- Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise (strengthens and defines your calf muscles): Resting your dumbbells on your thighs close to your knees, raise your heels off the ground, squeezing your calves at the top, then slowly lower them back down.
Hot tub wrist/ankle weights
Like dumbbells, wrist weights are a great way to work out your arms, back, and shoulders in the hot tub. However, because you can also use these as ankle weights, you can double up on your workout and calorie burn by exercising your legs as well.
The best aquatic hand/ankle weights for hot tub use
Want to get some aquatic hand and ankle weights for your hot tub? Here are a few of my favorite options:
Although these are not specifically sold for aquatic use, Bala Bangles are made from durable, waterproof silicone so they can can absolutely be used for water fitness.
They can be worn either on the wrist or ankle, and are completely adjustable so you can easily get them to fit your size. They weigh 1 lb each, making them perfect for adding light resistance to your workout.
These Smartmak wrist and ankle weights come in a great design you have probably never seen before. The weights hold onto your arm like a cuff, made from a soft waterproof foam, giving you a strong and comfortable hold.
At 0.75 lbs each, they are a bit lighter than the Bala Bangles, but that also makes them even easier to use if you're just starting out with weights.
Hot tub exercises to do with wrist/ankle weights
Once you have your wrist and ankle weights, you can start your journey with these great strengthening exercises:
- Seated leg lifts (strengthens and defines hips and quads): With the weights tightly secured to your ankles, sit up straight in the hot tub with your legs together, knees bent. One at a time, raise each leg until it is straight out in front of you, then bring it back down (slowly).
- Reverse leg lifts (works hamstrings, glutes, and other leg muscles): For this exercise, you will want to kneel on the seat, facing the side of the hot tub and holding the edge for stability. With your weights attached to your ankles, straighten one leg, squeeze your glute and lift your leg behind you, slowly up and then slowly back down. Repeat with the other leg.
- Leg/arm circles (strengthens and defines arm and leg muscles): With weights on your wrists, sitting straight in the hot tub, hold your arms out wide and shoulder-height, or just a bit below. Now start making small circles without letting your arms drop. The same idea goes for leg circles. With ankle weights on and your legs stretched out in front of you, hold your legs off the ground giving yourself enough room to make circle rotations with your feet. (For a better workout, change up the size of the circles you make—small, medium, and large.)
- Seated march (works out the buttocks, thighs, arms): As before, with weights on wrists and/or ankles and from a seated position, move your arms and legs to mimic a seated march. Raise your knees, with your feet coming a little way off the ground, and engage your arm muscles as you push and pull them through the water.
What other types of workout equipment are there for a hot tub?
While the equipment above is the best place to start for most people because it is versatile and can be used for a wide range of exercises, there are a few other products you may want to consider for a great hot tub workout:
- Stretch cords: You can purchase aquatic stretch cords or use regular fitness bands. These can be great for stretching while sitting still in the hot tub.
- Webbed aqua fitness gloves: These gloves come with webbed fingers giving you more resistance during a workout.
- Swim/float jog belt: These belts are made from buoyant materials that require more effort when moving in the water (better for swim spas where you can actually jog, though).
- Fitness noodles: These are great for exercises such as "riding a bike," where you straddle the noodle and tread water. Again, better for swim spas than hot tubs.
Tips to get the most out of your hot tub workout
You can't just jump into your hot tub and start doing jumping jacks and squats—there just isn't the space in most hot tubs. It's essential that you stay safe by paying attention to your body and surroundings the entire time.
Although hot tub workouts are a safe option for most people, there are a few extra things you need to consider if you want the best experience.
Lower the temperature
It is highly recommended that you lower the temperature of your hot tub down as far as it will go. Doing this will keep you from getting too warm during your workout.
Let your hot tub cool down to its lowest setting, but a good rule of thumb is to keep it between 83°F and no higher than 87°F.
Be careful not to slip
Take all necessary steps to avoid slipping while working out, particularly during and non-seated exercises. This may include adding a slip-resistant mat to the bottom of your hot tub (and possibly outside it) to reduce your chance of any falls.
You may even want to have a workout buddy with you and take turns to do each exercise, or have a family member or friend close by.
Drink plenty of water (before, during, and after)
Don't forget to drink water while working out in your hot tub! This is important any time you use the hot tub, but especially when your body temperature is also elevated from the workout. You could dehydrate really fast if you're not careful.
Always have a water bottle with cold, fresh water in reach, and frequently take water breaks during your sessions.
Grab a speaker
Chances are you won't want to wear your AirPods while splashing around in your hot tub. Grabbing a Bluetooth speaker will allow you to listen to your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook while you are doing your thing.
Having something on in the background can make workouts easier to get through and make them seem a little less boring too.
Warm up and cool down
Just like any other exercise routine, it's critical you warm-up and cool-down either side of the session. Warming up prepares your muscles for the workout ahead; and cooling down helps them relax and prevents any soreness the next day.
Both can easily be done in your hot tub. Just spend a few minutes doing some light versions of each exercise without any weights before you move onto the weighted versions.
What are the benefits of using your hot tub for aquatic fitness?
- Low impact workout: Most people can take advantage of these exercises thanks to the low impact, creating less strain on the joints.
- Great for people with limited mobility: Those with a limited range of motion can utilize a hot tub for exercises as a lot of them can be done seated.
- Better support and resistance: Because water provides buoyancy and resistance, you are getting a great weight training workout without all the usual bulky equipment.
- Get more use out of your hot tub: Having a reason to get in your hot tub daily gives you more reason to use it more often. They cost a lot; why not use them as much as you can?
- Physical therapy: If you're recovering from an injury, water can be a great way to relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and provide a range of motion not possible when gravity is involved. Just be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercises.
What's the best hot tub for exercise?
Honestly, swim spas are the best option out there. These are specifically designed for activity rather than relaxation.
If you're not familiar with them, swim spas provide a jet stream of water from one end, allowing you to continue to "swim in place". Essentially, you get the workout of a swim session without really going anywhere. Even if you are not interested in swimming for your workout, you can still use a swim spa for a whole range of other exercises, including the ones I have mentioned in this article.
With that said, any hot tub will do just fine as long as you can lower the temperature enough to keep yourself from getting too hot.
Seated exercises are a great place to start, and most of these can be done from a seated position in a hot tub with the right aquatic fitness equipment.
There are tons of exercises that can help accommodate your workout, no matter the size of your hot tub—you'll just have to get creative with which exercises you can do, depending on the size, seating layout, and depth of the water.
Is working out in a hot tub safe?
As long as you take proper precautions, working out in a hot tub can be done safely. Keep the water cool, have a buddy nearby, always watch your step, stay hydrated, and never push yourself too far.
Summing things up
Hot tubs are often thought of as a way to relax when you are stressed out, sore from a long day, or to relax your muscles after a long hard workout at the gym. However, getting in shape with an amazing workout routine is another fabulous way to utilize your hot tub—by defining, toning, strengthening, and sculpting your muscles.
So if you're looking for a way to get in shape and stay healthy, hot tub exercise equipment could be the answer. Now you don't need to spend money on expensive gym memberships or costly home gyms because hot tubs can provide some of the same benefits!