This aquatic equipment is guaranteed to help bring some fun and variety into your programs.
Also called aqua discs (but we are calling them Happy Face Water Weights) they may add variety and progression to all programs.
After noodles, the favorite piece of equipment found at most pools is dumbbells and often clients rush into using dumbbells only to find out that buoyant equipment quickly amplifies the properties of water.
Working with buoyant equipment under the water - is not as easy as it looks. In fact, anchoring and keeping the shoulders submerged and protected throughout all exercises is key to both safety and efficacy.
Happy Face Water Weights shaped like discs, offer many options to hold to apply work, intensity or load on the muscles.
There are two sized discs: one to use as an entry level option (the green), the second to offer for more intermediate to advanced options (the orange).
The surface area is easily changed - depending on how you hold or utilize the disc.
Three Surface Area Positions:
Offering three positions creates several options for the end user to choose their best intensity.
1) Slice the hand weights:
This option streamlines the water weight parallel to the side of the pool. The hand position is typically in the mouth of the happy face. This offers the least resistance and intensity or surface area.
2) 1/2 the hand weights pull through:
This options has the thumb in the mouth and the figure in the eye of the hand weight. This provides an intermediate level of intensity and surface area.
3) Full hand weight pull through:
This option opens up more surface area with the hand placed in the mouth of the happy face hand weight .This is the most advanced level of intensity and surface area.
There is a choice of two sizes of Aqua Discs
8 inch or 20 cm orange
7 inch or 17 cm green
Another option for progressing the intensity and surface area of the disc can be achieved by using a longer lever length, changing the direction of pull and power, and adding force and speed.
However, these factors are not always equal for every user (i.e. how buoyant equipment works, or doesnot work) as this largely depends on the exercise chosen.
Also one has to consider how carefully an exercise is executed with or against the buoyancy of water.
In other words, pushing buoyant equipment down into the water works! Pushing laterally through the water surface does not work or, has very little intensity.
Many people casually pick up the largest buoyant dumbbell at hand(generally 6 inch or more) and start working with this without being aware of the injury potential to the shoulder joint. Injury can be a result of either wear and tear (repetitive stress) or doing too much too soon. In order to work safely and efficiently, each person should select the correct sized water weight then submerge and protect the joints of the shoulders and neck and maintain good posture throughout the exercise.
It is a given that buoyant equipment is always assisted by the buoyancy of the water. This means the equipment will automatically float up, especially when uncontrolled, which can pull the lever and/or joint out of alignment.. The key for technique is to anchor the piece of equipment under the water and pull down to engage the resistance of the water against the muscles that are providing the movement.
When utilizing any strength training equipment - especially buoyant equipment - the "most" important point to consider is progressive overload i.e. incorporating a gradual increase to the strength "load" or resistance than the muscle is accustomed to.
Let's look at 3 Progressions to Posterior Deltoid Strengthening Exercise:
Start with the small Happy Face Water Weight or the green aqua disc.
Posterior Deltoid Pull-down in Athletic Stance (slice disc for least resistance and surface area).
Start with the arms extended in front of the body just below shoulder height. Slice the hand weights and pull down through the water keeping the disc close to the side of the body.
To achieve the correct start position stand in athletic or staggered stance (one leg in front of the other in a lunge position). Start in extended or standing tall working position and then squat down to the water as the water weights pull down through the water. Initially bring the hand weights down towards the side of the body or stop when the hands come to the sides.
If the client has good shoulder posture and no shoulder problems the arms may extend slightly behind the body (no more than 20 degrees or about a hand length behind the back). This is full range functional movement. however, for people who are not as strong or skilled be sure that the buoyancy weights do not lift the arms too high to hyper extend the shoulder.
Posterior Deltoid Pull-down in Athletic Stance - (1/2 aqua disc resistance pull)
Start with the arms extended in front of the body just below shoulder height. With more resistance or the hand in the happy face weight and the thumb in the eye or with about 1/2 of the disc's surface area, pull down through the water keeping the disc close to the side of the body. Stand tall in extended working positions and pull down to neutral working position and stop so that the discs do not go past the hips. If the client has good shoulder posture and no shoulder problems the arms can extend behind the body (no more than 20 degrees or about a hand length behind the back). Do not allow the weights to lift and extend the arms too high behind the body to hyper extend the shoulder.
Posterior Deltoid Pull-down in Athletic Stance - Hand in the mouth handhold (full resistance of aqua disc)
Start with the arms extended in front of the body just below shoulder height. With more resistance hand in the happy face weight for full disc surface area, pull down through the water keeping the disc close to the side of the body. Stand tall in extended working positions and pull down to neutral working position and stop so that the disc do not go past the hips.
If the client has good shoulder posture and no shoulder problems the arms can extend behind the body (no more than 20 degrees or about a hand length behind the back). Do not allow the weights to lift and extend the arms too high behind the body to hyper extend the shoulder.
Now is the time to progress to the Orange or larger aqua disc.
Things to think about.
1) Even 1 inch diameter really makes a huge difference in terms of intensity and overload.
2) Most people find working with large dumbbells (especially if they have a lot of built in body fat) extremely difficult as they cannot control buoyancy sufficiently to hold the shoulders under the water in the correct position to protect the joint when they are facilitating joint action.
3) Realize that the Posterior Deltoid is a key shoulder muscle used to maintain proper shoulder alignment by keeping the shoulders down and back to support good posture.