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Happy Face Water Weights - Add Fun and Strength to Your Program
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Happy Face Water Weights - Add Fun and Strength to Your Program

Happy Face Water Weights are a very versatile piece of water exercise equipment and may be utilized in both shallow and deep water depths. 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 the movement is key to both safety and efficacy. Clients will require strong core stabilization to pull the discs under the water to maintain this "neutral working position". The Happy Face Water Weights offer three levels of intensity with the hand positions and two different sizes of water weights provides a safe progression.
Note: WaterART recommends learning proper technique and form without equipment prior to progressing to using any aquatic equipment.

There are two sizes of Happy Face Water Weights   
•    The green is 7 inch or 17 cm sizing. WaterART recommends that everyone start with this sizing. People with limitations may need to stay at this sizing with an easier intensity.
•    The orange is 8 inch or 20 cm sizing. This size will provide a significant progression and challenge. The Instructor should check and see that the patrons are staying under the water when performing holding these in their hands for upper body strengthening.

The surface area is easily changed depending on how a person holds the water weight. The goal of this product is to provide options to hold the hand weight so that intensity and load on the muscles may be smartly and incrementally progressed. The one inch increase in diameter creates much more drag resistance and surface area to challenge the muscles.

Training in good posture with full range of motion is key to efficacy. Always start with the easiest level of intensity (slice the weight) and facilitate the joint action with the shoulders anchored under the water. Then try the cupped position to add more intensity and progression. Finally, add the web to the hand weight. Additionally, lower body movement may be changed and varied to create more challenge.

When fully skilled add assistance using the weight to travel the movement and then resistance against travel with the same movement. There are infinite combinations to create interesting and effective training for the muscles. Realize that not all people may graduate through all progressions or will be able to work with both sizes of happy hand weights. The Instructor should check that they may maintain optimal protection by submerging the shoulders when performing the exercise. This requires good core abdominal strength and skills. We call submerged shoulders "wearing your water necklace" to help people understand that they must pull down into the water at neck depth.

Three Hand Positions to change the Resistance and Intensity:

1) Slice the hand weights: This option streamlines the water weight and is the easiest level of intensity. Either hand grip may be utilized. Stay neutral (use the core) and ski on the bottom of the pool. This is an excellent filler movement that may be done in between muscle sets. Be sure to keep the arms close to the body and pull down and back rather than up and forward.

2) Cup the hand weights pull through the water. This options has the thumb in the mouth and the fingers in the eyes of the hand weight. This provides an intermediate level of intensity and surface area.   All upper body muscle sets may be performed in this position. Some patrons may find this to be an easier way to hold the weight and to maintain a neutral wrist position.   

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 offers the most drag and surface area.  This is an upright breast stroke exercise which targets the rhomboids and the middle trapezius. Foam weights or dumbbells may not be utilized in this manner. This is a key action and exercise to maintain proper upper body posture.

Another option for progressing the intensity and surface area of the disc can be achieved by using a longer lever length, to change the direction of pull and power, and adding force and speed.
However, these factors are not always equal for every user 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. (i.e. how buoyant equipment works, or does not work) or, 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.
Realize 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 engage the core to stay under the water. When buoyant equipment is used for upper body strengthening, pushing the resistance down into the water against the water's buoyancy performs the “work” phase. The returning joint action or muscle phase is performed by the water unless the client chooses to control the upward ascent of the buoyant equipment. This type of muscular contraction is called eccentric loading. Muscles require strength to push downwards but even more strength to control the upward movement (to stop the action at the correct position) and to start the move over again. When movement is controlled on the upward ascent the muscles lengthen under load or eccentric lengthening and strengthening of the muscles creates the overload of the muscle being targeted. Research indicates that eccentric loading of the muscles requires about 40% more strength than concentric loading (or shortening the muscle under load ). That needs to be understood to progress programs with aquatic fitness equipment.

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 extremely difficult (especially if they have a lot of built in body fat) as they cannot control buoyancy sufficiently to hold the shoulders under the water in the correct position to protect the joint while facilitating the joint action.

3) Realize that the muscles are developed successfully using good posture. This is key to gaining results. If the person cannot handle the exercise, there is little benefit. Cue to pull the shoulders down and back to support good posture.

4) When buoyant equipment is used in the hands for upper body conditioning the main area of concern is the shoulder area. Shoulder impingement is caused when there is shoulder abduction between 30-120 degrees with internal shoulder rotation. Note: people with rounded shoulders have this posture naturally. Being careful to stay fully submerged with shoulder abduction provides natural protection with the hydrostatic pressure of the water. So do not take the arms or shoulders in and out of the water!!

5) Control the ascent of the upward movement. Do not flail or move quickly up and down. Work is created by not allowing the equipment to "float" up.

6) There are many components of fitness to train. Intersperse a variety of sets into a program for total body conditioning.

7) Most women require more upper body strength training. Be sure to offer enough sets and repetitions to effectively overload and benefit the muscle. We recommend 1-2 Sets of 8-25 repetitions with equipment and 3-5 sets of 8-25 repetitions without equipment for efficacy.

8) Add some recovery and fun in between muscle sets. Work on balance, posture and some functional training sets. Did you know most people do not have superior balance. To improve balance and posture - you will need to train this.


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