How to Train With a Pull Buoy

Pull Buoy Workouts

Pull buoys are most helpful when you're working out using a freestyle stroke.
Pull buoys are most helpful when you're working out using a freestyle stroke.

It's easy to add pull buoy sets to your workouts. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of using these buoys is getting used to the way your legs float when you're using these products.

To use a pull buoy, you place it between your legs above the knees. Some swimmers move the buoy as high up as possible between their legs, in the groin area, while others move it closer to their knees. If the buoy has a large and small side, orient the buoy so that the smaller portion points to the pool bottom.

The buoy should keep your hips and legs relatively high in the water even without kicking, and it will push you to keep your head down during your stroke. Buoys are used with swimming strokes that immerse the head, so you'll want to wear goggles or risk getting chlorine in your eyes.

If you're just beginning with the buoy, use your freestyle stroke, which is the primary stroke used with these products. Hold the buoy securely and do your best not to kick your legs. Swim with your normal freestyle stroke. If you normally swim at a fast pace, you will feel some extra strain because your arms are doing more work.

Buoys help reduce drag. You can maximize this trait by keeping your toes pointed. In addition, constrict your abdominal muscles as you swim with a buoy. This keeps your body straighter, further reduces drag, and increases overall efficiency.

As you work with a buoy, remember that this device is meant to accelerate the development of upper body strength and improve technique, not as an aid for every part of your workout. Keep buoyed laps to 25 percent or less of your total number of laps.

There are endless possibilities in the variations for buoy workouts. If you want an extra-challenging workout, hold the buoy between your ankles. This forces you to really constrict your core torso muscles in order to keep your body straight and will increase the speed with which you fatigue.

Some swimmers advocate the use of ankle locks when working out with pull buoys. Ankle locks hold the ankles together and prevent you from doing any sort of scissoring kicks whatsoever, letting you concentrate more on other parts of your technique. What's more, you can add hand paddles in addition to the buoys. This further intensifies the work that your arms get from your swim.