Aqua Jogging

written by Kerry Gustafson

In the beginning, the AquaJogger® was conceived in Eugene, Oregon USA as a way to take the impact out of running for world class runners like Mary Decker. Mary’s coach, Dick Brown, in addition to training elite runners, was also working with Dr. Bruce Becker (Washington State University) in designing water rehabilitation programs for pre and post surgery patients. Unhappy with the various flotation vests and water ski belts available, Dick began to search for something better.

In 1987 a collaboration between Dick Brown, Dianne Bedortha, a water exercise specialist and Lew Thorne, the president of Excel Sports Science, resulted in a flotation belt design now known as the AquaJogger® Classic. This unique and affordable flotation device soon captured the attention of athletes, fitness instructors and medical professionals around the world and "AquaJogging" was born.

The AquaJogger® is a tool that provides access to the many benefits of deep water exercise. Gravity loads the body causing stress through impact and compression on the joints, bones and muscles. Running and exercise in deep water eliminates the affects of gravity and frees the body to cross train in an effective and safe way.

Aqua running offers benefits to both healthy and injured individuals. In both untrained and post-operative individuals, aqua running offers:

  • Increased strength
  • Increased VO2 Max
  • A non or partial-weight bearing component
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    Improved neuromuscular control and proprioception
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    Decreased heart rate (10-12 beats per minute) and increased RPE due to resistance of upper extremities and lower extremities against water Increased venous return resulting in decreased edema

The benefits of aqua running in trained individuals and athletes include:

  • VO2 Max values similar to land-based training (within 3.8 ml/kg/min) 
  • with improved running economy, core strength, and proprioception
  • Improved strength, respiratory function, and endurance 
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    Decreased compressive loading of the spine
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    Active rest from running without effects of detraining

Further evidence of the value of aqua running include:

Bushman et al demonstrated that distance runners on a 4-week program of aquatic only training maintained running performance, VO2 Max, maximum heart rate, and lactate threshold. Bushman et al noted no difference in 5K time after 4 weeks of deep water running only w Wilber et al report that 32 recreational distance runners maintained a 2-mile run performance after only 6 weeks of deep water running only.

Recommendations for aqua running in trained individuals:

Tartaruga et al report that distance runners replacing 30% of their training with deep water running demonstrated no change in maximal O2 uptake, ventilatory threshold, maximal expiratory volume, running economy, maximal heart rate, stride frequency, length, and time. Martel et al demonstrated an increase in vertical jump of volleyball players with aquatic plyometric training, and an 11% improvement in jumping performance on land.  Robinson et all demonstrated that aquatic plyometrics resulted in the same benefits as land-based plyometrics with less muscle soreness.

  • Intensity must be similar to land-based training 2-3 days per week
  • Durations of 50-90 minutes (90-100% VO2 for 30 minutes, 70-75% for 60 minutes) with deep water running for distance running training
  • Shallow water training for vertical jump training
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    Water shoes/socks are recommended for shallow water running and jumping


  • Increased enjoyment of running 
  • Faster running times
  • Decreased injury risk 
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    Achievement of goals



  • 10 minutes easy pool running
  • 10×1’ at hard effort with 1’ active recovery
  • 10×30” at sprint effort with 30” active recovery 
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    5-10 minutes easy warm-down


  • 10-15 minutes easy pool running
  • 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, 5’, 4’ 3’, 2’, 1’ at hard effort except the 5’ session which is at tempo effort 
  • Each interval has 1’ of active recovery
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    5-10’ easy warm-down


  • Warm up 10-15 minutes
  • 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, 5’, 4’ 3’, 2’, 1’ at hard effort except the 5’ session which is at tempo effort 
  • Cool Down 10-20 minutes


  • Warm up 20-30 minutes.
  • 3 minutes hard, 2 minutes recovery
  • Repeat this 5-minute interval 6 times.
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    5 minutes recovery “jog”
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    3 minutes hard, 2 minutes recovery. Repeat this 5-minute interval 6 times. 
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    Cool down 15-20 minutes.

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