June 21, 2021 11 min read

Looking to crank up your workout intensity without wreaking havoc on your joints?

Then water cycling is an activity that should be on your radar.

Water cycling, aka aqua cycling, is pretty much like how it sounds – cycling on a specially designed bike called a Hydrorider, made from marine grade stainless steel, submerged in water.

The weight of an individual decreases when submerged in water, and the extent of this reduction is contingent upon the depth of submersion. For instance, a person who is submerged up to the waist has approximately 50% of their body's weight offset, while submersion up to the neck can alleviate up to 90% of one's weight. This means that the stress and impact on your joints and muscles are significantly reduced, allowing individuals to perform intense workouts without the typical strain associated with land-based exercises.

Water resistance is also stronger than air resistance. When water is combined with speed and a Hydrorider, water cycling offers more resistance than regular cycling and without the risks of muscular or saddle soreness. As such, it enables a scalable and challenging workout that burns a tonne of calories and doesn't compromise joint health or injury in the process.

For someone looking for a viable alternative to high-impact land exercises, water cycling is a game-changer.

In this guide, we'll explain all the benefits of water cycling:

  1. The concept of water cycling explained
  2. Who should try water cycling?
  3. The benefits of water cycling
  4. Do the risks outweigh the benefits?



Water cycling has gained traction in the last 10+ years and for all the right reasons.

But what's the mechanism behind it?

The Hydrorider, is an aquatic stationary bike submerged in 1.2-1.6 metres of water, containing a four-paddle flywheel powered by the user's leg muscles. As you pedal faster, the pump creates more water resistance, gradually increasing your workout’s intensity.  Due to water's natural resistance level being dictated by how hard you pedal, workouts are scaled to your fitness levels. So, regardless of your age or physical limitation, it is an ideal and safe option for anyone. 


Stressing a participant's muscles while protecting their joints was the driving force behind water cycling development. It was perfect for worn-down athletes, seniors, and even cycling enthusiasts who want to preserve their bodies

Aqua cycling's was obvious for physical rehabilitation, but now people who want to get in shape and improve their health and fitness are now turning to aqua cycling. It is a comprehensive and joint-friendly exercise regimen that has preventative benefits.

If you’re are not familiar with this form or exercise we’ve listed 17 major health and fitness benefits.



Whether your joints are screaming at you or just wanting to mix up your workout routine, water cycling offers something for everyone. Let's go through the unique benefits it has to offer: 


As we age, our bodies become less resilient to the impact of land-based exercises. High-impact exercises, i.e. jumping or running, put significant force on your joints, creating micro damages in your muscle fibres and connective tissue. Besides feeling sore the next day, the sudden and extreme shifts in momentum can eventually injure you.

Low-impact exercises, like water cycling, don't stress our bodies the same way. Your bones and joints don't have to sustain the same shock since movements are slower, more controlled and less abrupt. This means you can exercise and preserve your joints while still working up a sweat. 


Continuing from our last point, low-impact exercises are forgiving on your joints. But the problem is that many of them, i.e. walking, just aren't intense enough. You could walk longer to make things more demanding, butonly some have the time.

Water cycling, however, lets you dictate your workout's intensity by increasing or decreasing the pedalling speed. Since the resistance of water increases as you pick up the pace, it can only make your workouts more challenging.

You can also engage in HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts, alternating between high and low-resistance intervals. Or you can opt for a more gradual activity, upping the tempo as you go along. 


Arthritis and other joint conditions aren't just inconvenient but downright debilitating. Suddenly, your morning jog, once a source of joy, isn't an option. Heck, even getting off the couch can feel like a chore.

The danger of succumbing to these conditions is that our bodies become weaker. When you're sedentary, your muscles experience atrophy, and joints become stiffer.

Water cycling (if you put the work in) can significantly stimulate and strengthen your muscles. As your muscles grow, it helps to protect and support your weakened joints, acting as a buffer against further damage. It can even reduce pain, stiffness and swelling - without the risk of further injury.

The effects of water cycling go beyond simply getting fit - it helps to maintain mobility and overall life quality. 


Ok, we all know that aqua cycling burns calories.  So the main question is, how many?

While water cycling is gentle, it can burn some serious calories. How much is up to you and how much you want to push yourself. In just one 45-minute session, you can burn as much as 800 calories. 

Here is the cardio and calorie burn profile of an average water cyclist when monitored from the temple. Note monitors like apple watches and fitbits are not accurate under the water so temple monitoring is the most accurate.

Aqua cycling combines the cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise with the toning and strengthening qualities. As you continuously pedal, your muscles are stimulated by pushing against the water's resistance. This strains your muscles and forces adaptation and growth.

The result? A bigger caloric burn, more muscle gain and increased muscle endurance! 


Water cycling is easily accessible to anyone at any level. Like riding a stationary bike, you hop on and pedal away. Just ensure to adjust its seat and handlebars to secure your positioning.

If you have access to an aqua cycling class, you only need to bring swimwear and water shoes. The instructor will then dictate your workout's pace and intensity.

So, with minimal equipment required and no lengthy learning process - you'll have no issues diving right into your aqua cycling journey! 


The problem with a gym treadmill or stair climber is the monotony of the exercise. While they can get you in shape, it gets tedious fast. As such, many people find cardio boring and would instead lift weights.

Aqua cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that offers a new and enjoyable experience. Mixing up your routine also becomes less of a chore and is one way to break out of a fitness routine rut.

Plus, some aqua cycling classes even feature music and light shows to engage the senses - making it even more exciting. This added stimulation helps to zone in on your training, so you don't have to worry about boredom setting in. 


If you're an athlete, you know that active recovery is crucial. Active recovery is when a person engages in low-intensity activity to help repair muscle tissue and reduce inflammation.

Water cycling is a fantastic recovery tool that is now being adopted by many sporting teams like the Soceroos  and many court athletes, tennis players, netball players and basketball players like Novak Djokovic. Its low-impact nature lets you gently move through the water, increasing blood flow and muscle nutrients. This helps to reduce blood pressure, along with muscle stiffness and aches associated with intense workouts. 


Aqua Cycling is amazing for building leg strength, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it does more than work your legs - it's a complete exercise that trains your entire body in and out

Your core, arms, and back engage when you're securely in position and pedalling. These muscle groups help to maintain balance and maintain proper posture while you cycle. And if the harder they work to maintain your pedalling form, the stronger they'll become.

Aqua cyclists lift their body's off the saddle for extra speed and balance challenge, engaging the arms. Instructors can also ask participants to perform arm pulls and pushes utilising the water resistance on the arms while pedalling, which further taxes the upper body.

When you train your entire body, the muscles grow more evenly, creating a balanced look. You’ll get stronger, become more efficient at the movement, and perhaps best of all, look and better all around! 


Recomping occurs when you lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously, an essential aspect of weight management. Needless to say, it’s not an easy feat.

Since aqua cycling offers muscle strength training and endurance, it helps burn fat and increase muscle mass. As your muscle grows larger and denser to acclimate to the resistance, your body fat percentage decreases because of the cardio.

After a while, you'll notice a significant shift in your body composition just by looking in the mirror. You'll look leaner, more toned, and feel stronger.

But remember that you'll still need to be in a caloric deficit to achieve the best results. If you’re consuming significantly more than what your body requires to build muscle, you will gain body fat. 


Water cycling, like regular spin classes, works in groups. You attend an aqua cycling class at a local pool and the instructor leads you through a session.

Because of its group set up, you get to know your classmates in a relaxed way with no pressure when you're consistently in the same class. You learn their stories, and they become a part of yours. You share moments together that creates a bond and often the foundation of lifelong friendships. This can even evolve into an atmosphere of encouragement and as everyone supports each other

In any event, an aqua cycling class allows you to feel connected with others in your community. You have fun during the class and can socialise with your teammates. 


When you're cycling, you're balancing on the bike and trying to keep your core muscles and lower body tight. This helps build balance, flexibility, and coordination - all crucial for a long, healthy life.

So how does it positively impact balance, flexibility and coordination? Let's break it down:

  • Balance: The dynamic nature of water movement challenges your instability and helps build stabilisers. Everyday tasks like lifting a bag of groceries is not a controlled movement like perfectly lifting a weight at the gym. Strong stabilisers and core helps to keep your balance in everyday tasks and helps counter balance deterioration that comes with age.
  • Flexibility: The buoyancy of water in aqua cycling supports your body weight and lets you move your joints at a greater range of motion. When the muscles are relaxed in water and they stretch out to resist the water, they “grow”, or lengthen. This, overtime, helps build flexibility and joint mobility as your body adapts to these new extended movements. Additionally, the water's resistance can even improve your muscle elasticity. This means you can stretch your muscles more to increase their flexibility.
  • Coordination: Although regular and aqua cycling involves pedalling, it takes greater coordination for the latter because of the water resistance. Water is continuously moving, pushing and pulling you in different directions.Your abdominal muscles, back and arms must constantly be engaged to maintain your balance. And as you improve your balance, your coordination will naturally improve. 


Aqua cycling is as diverse as they come in terms of intensity. With a hydrorider, you can ramp it up for short bursts, much like HIIT, or opt for longer rides focused on endurance. In either scenario, you're doing your cardiovascular endurance and health a world of good.

Remember that your heart is a muscle, so it must be exercised like any other. Aqua cycling increases your heart rate, forcing it to exert itself harder than usual. This, in turn, helps your heart become more robust and pump oxygen-rich throughout your body more efficiently. You'll find you'll last longer in your training and everyday activities. 


When you water cycle, it also acts like a massage, increasing the blood flow and lymphatic drainage in your body. When the fluid of your lymphatic system is flushed out, it removes built-up toxins, bacteria, and other waste products in your body.

This improved lymphatic drainage helps reduce inflammation, ensuring you’re ready for the next workout. It also promotes better organ health and enhances cell renewal, allowing you to maintain a youthful look and feel.


As aqua cycling involves using handlebars, you'll find yourself trying to maintain a neutral spine to keep riding. This picture-perfect posture not only increases your cycling performance but helps to strengthen your core too. With increased core strength, you'll find yourself sitting and standing upright much easier and longer.

Remember that this enhanced posture goes well beyond the pool. You'll slouch less when you walk, drive, and sit at your desk. Overall, your lower back will thank you in the long-term as poor posture leads to back pain.


In everyday life, anxiety and stress are sadly part of the package. Whether it'd be demanding work schedules, family obligations, or simply being unhappy with how we look - we all face ]stress in our own ways.

Resistance exercise not only helps to enhance our exterior appearance, but also the state of mental health. When we train, the body releases endorphins - hormones that boost our mood. This can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, making us feel more energised and happier.

A water cycle is certainly one way of releasing those happy little hormones. As an added bonus, the waters in your aquatic centre or local gym will soothe your body and soul, helping to boost relaxation and general wellbeing. 


Whether it's chronic knee pain or recovering from a sports injury, physical rehabilitation is recommended. This involves incorporating exercises to strengthen weak muscles that aren't pulling their weight and restore function. But because high-impact activities can be intense, you may cause yourself further injury and more harm than good.

Aqua cycling is rehabilitative in nature and an exercise that minimises strain on your body since it's low-impact. So if you have knee problems or other orthopaedic challenges like hip, ankle and lower back pain , water exercises like aqua cycling can strengthen this area. You'll strengthen the muscles but without impact and the risk of further injury. 


Let's get one thing out of the way: aqua cycling is no picnic. It may be forgiving on your joints and leave no pain or soreness, but your muscles and heart will be challenged. The more you push water the more it pushes back and challenges you.

However, what’s often overlooked is the gradual progression of a person’s mental strength.

When you attempt to push your limits in training, you'll slowly build the mental fortitude to see yourself through. You'll learn that good workouts aren't meant to be cakewalks; you need to push yourself if you want results. With aqua cycling, as long as you’re pushing yourself, you’ll learn this valuable lesson without breaking yourself. 


There is very little risk associated with water exercise. The buoyancy of the water is kind on the body and provides support for people with weakness, pain or balance problems. Aqua cycling is low impact and high yield, you gain a lot without risking a lot.

Just remember, as with any exercise, to go slowly at first. Give yourself enough time to learn (there is a slight learning curve) and adjust to the dynamic movement of the water. From there, you'll quickly find your stride, so to speak, and reap all the health and fitness benefits of aqua cycling.

Always check with a medical practitioner before beginning a new exercise regime.

We hope this Aqua Cycling benefits guide has given you an idea of what to expect. Happy Water Cycling!

Also in Blog

Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise
Breast Cancer and Aquatic Exercise

October 20, 2023 10 min read

Aquatic therapy can improve strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, lymphoedema, chemo-induced neuropathy, as well as the anxiety & self-image affected by breast cancer.
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression
Water Cycling for Anxiety & Depression

September 04, 2023 8 min read

For those with anxiety and depression, the water's gentle embrace offers solace, strength, and a path to rejuvenation and wellbeing. 
Water Exercise for Bone Health
Water Exercise for Bone Health

August 31, 2023 4 min read

Water exercise is proving effective for bone health, has lower risks of fracture, & puts less stress on the joints. It also comes with less risk & additional health benefits. 
Get Started
Enquire today to get started