Workout tool: the pull buoy

Swimming’s been called the “sport of last resort” — no matter what your injury, it’s likely you’ll be able to swim through it. I came (back) to swimming a few years ago because of an injury myself, and relied on a pull buoy to immobilize my legs through a brutal hip injury in 2007.

Wait. Using a what to immobilize my legs?

I’m sure you’ve seen pull buoys in the buckets of swim toys at public pools, though you may or may not have seen someone use one. They’re not sexy and exciting and fun like a kickboard and flippers, which everyone seems to be an expert in using (why, oh why, do people insist on using flippers when there are more than five people sharing a lane?). But the humble pull buoy, just a figure-8-shaped piece of foam, can help you work on your pull and alignment, not to mention give you a kick-butt arms workout.More importantly, when you’ve got a lower body injury that even swimming aggravates, it can keep your hurt parts in place while you swim.

My trusty pull buoy.

My pull buoy had been gathering dust in the closet for months until this past week, when I started using it again thanks to a dinged-up toe (again, long story, big bruise). I was truly shocked at how challenging my first pull-only workout was, so I thought I’d share it as a workout tool here.

Here’s how to use it: Insert the skinny part of the figure-8-shaped pull buoy between your thighs. Swim. Need further instruction? Check out these detailed instructions, videos and photos from GoSwim!

My favorite pull set? Five X 200 freestyle, pull. If your shoulders aren’t throbbing by the end, throw in a few 50 freestyle sprints.


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5 responses to “Workout tool: the pull buoy

  1. Is that pronounced Pool Boy? 🙂
    Thanks for this post, nudging me closer to actually getting to the pool!

  2. i didn’t know these helped with form… i assumed they gave the arms an extra workout. makes me want to go swim some laps!

  3. HA HA HA! I call this the pool boy. He’s been between my legs a lot these past few weeks.

  4. Courtney

    Owen came home from school today and said they used a pull buoy today in swimming class. He’s 6! Then he proceeded to lay on the floor to try to demonstrate. Funny.

  5. The image of a six-year-old trying to demonstrate correct pull buoy usage is just about the most adorable thing I can think of.

    As for the “pool boy,” it’s amazing how a simple turn of phrase can make a boring workout tool exciting and illicit!

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