Skip to Content

Are Squats In Water Effective? (Squatting In The Pool)

Can you squat in water? Should you squat in water?

Here’s whether squats are effective in water:

Squats are not effective in water. The entire purpose of squatting is to do resistance against gravity. When you’re in water, the resistance is negated by the water

Old man squatting in a swimming pool

However, we shall do our due diligence and investigate how squatting could be incorporated into an aquatic workout.

Reasons For Squatting In Water

You Can Build Leg Muscle

Someone who is extremely frail or undergoing physical therapy might be able to recoup a little muscle mass.

You Can Build Leg Strength

Someone who is extremely frail or undergoing physical therapy might be able regain some leg function.

Joint Movement

Articulating the knee and hip with added support might be beneficial for lubricating the joints of severe arthritis sufferers.

My elderly mother is pretty immobile, but she can still get into the pool and move around.

It Keeps Things Fun

Water aerobics have been around forever. There’s a market for them, particularly seniors. Some people like to attend water aerobics groups.

Mothers and babies can have some quality time bonding?

Moving around in water in different ways is enjoyable?

It’s something different to squatting in the gym AND swimming?

I’m clutching at straws here.

Reasons Against Squatting In Water

Limited Tempo

Squatting in water is unstable and you’ll only be able to move at the rate the water permits, in an unpredictable pattern.

Limited Resistance

You’re looking at less than bodyweight here, folks. The whole point of resistance training is to do additional work against gravity.

The only person I know who took a barbell into the water was the late Vasily Alexeev. He would perform cleans in the Don River where the water was waist deep.

Granted, he was the weightlifter with the highest total of all time. But he was also crazy, let’s be honest.

He clearly didn’t care about rust on his bar and plates.

If we think critically on what would be happening in this scenario, you are pulling the weight and you are being slowed by the resistance of the water. This is similar to using accommodating resistance like bands.

The difference is, once the bar reaches a height where the weight needs to be moved ballistically, the water is no longer there, so the bands wouldn’t interfere with that portion of the movement pattern. So it’s more like a weight releaser (these are pretty old school).

But then your legs are dragging in the water and then you need to splash back down which will slow your descent into the receive and… it’s just a mess.

I’ve thought about this for too long now.

Things To Consider

How Deep The Water Is

If the water is shallow enough to keep your head above water, it won’t be deep enough to make a tangible difference to the squat compared to squatting in air.

If the water is deep, you’re going to be repeatedly dunking your head underwater. There will be so much buoyancy you’ll have trouble keeping your feet on the floor.

Please don’t drown by squatting.

The Type of Squat You’re Doing

The only case I can think of for getting any training stimulus would be to perform a jump squat in shallow water, and then on landing the impact is reduced somewhat.

I imagine if you did enough of those you’d get a bit tired.

But if your joints aren’t suited to jumping movements, you’d be better off seeking an alternative.

If you wanted to squat with reduced load, you could just hold on to something like a TRX, or a rack, or a door handle, or someone else’s hands, or anything fixed.

For most training populations, it’s a thumbs down for squatting in water!

That’s all for this article, but what about the Zercher squat vs back squat? Or why do you get neck pain after squats?

Hope this helped!


Wednesday 19th of July 2023

squatting on the wide Gunite pool steps in very shallow water is excellent for me as a 68year old male with bursitis and arthritic hips, as I get stronger I go more shallow