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The Difference Between Buoyancy and Drag Resistance Equipment
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The Difference Between Buoyancy and Drag Resistance Equipment

Typically when people think of aquatic exercise, they think of pool noodles, foam dumbbells and an easy alternative to working out. What they often don’t realize is that Aqualogix has changed the game with their drag resistance equipment, which creates a training effect that is unable to be achieved with buoyant equipment. Drag resistance equipment allows users to work a muscle group equally and smoothly in any direction and offers a level of resistance tailored to each individual. The harder they push, the harder the workout.

Facilities often compare buoyant and drag resistance equipment without realizing they both serve totally different purposes. Let’s take a look at a few of the things that set them apart.

Price Point

For years pools have been using foam equipment as their affordable price point makes them an easy investment choice. Typically, a pair of foam dumbbells costs somewhere between $20 and $30. What facilities don’t always take into account however, is how often the equipment needs to be replaced due to wear and tear. Generally speaking, the more porous the equipment, the shorter it’s lifespan.

Drag resistance equipment sits at a slightly higher price point ($59.95 for a pair of fins and $69.95 for a pair of bells), however you definitely get what you pay for. When cared for correctly, Aqualogix equipment can last for years, and best of all, it can be used for so many different applications.


As foam equipment is buoyant, it is assistive and not resistive, they have been designed for completely different reasons. They can compliment each other nicely at times (e.g. for defined chronic conditions or rehabilitation) but generally speaking, they are not used to achieve the same result.

Aqualogix is unique because it provides fluid omni-directional drag resistance providing the ability to work a muscle group equally and smoothly in any direction. Muscle balance is achieved so opposing muscle groups promote symmetry or strength development while training the nervous system to fire more quickly.

Life Time

Aqualogix equipment is made from high impact ABS plastic and has a much longer lifespan than foam. Aqualogix is dedicated to helping customers maintain their equipment as cost effectively as possible and have even re-designed their fins so that when the neoprene starts to wear after a long life and many uses customers can simply purchase a replacement neoprene sheet, thus extending their lifespan.

The ABS plastic not only makes the equipment nice and durable but also easy to clean and store. Due to the nature of foam equipment, however, they can easily become contaminated with skin oils, skin particles etc which could provide a breeding ground for bacteria to develop if they are not properly cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.

Training Effect

Given foam equipment is assistive and Aqualogix equipment is resistive, the two create different training effects. Assistive equipment interacts with buoyancy. When working out with foam dumbbell muscle forces are primarily eccentric in nature due to the need to control the upward force.

Comparatively, muscle contractions are generally concentric in nature when using drag resistance equipment. Muscle contractions are essentially concentric because you work against the resistance of the water and not gravity. This is important because water resistance imposed on the body is 800x denser than air. The goal when working with drag equipment is the maximize muscle fibre recruitment with each movement. Aqualogix equipment has a unique 3D design which ensures equal resistance is provided in all planes of motion when performing an exercise. This helps build more balance muscle groups, reduces the risk of injury and also allows for a more efficient workout.

Strength and conditioning are achieved through speed, force/power, intensity and isolated movement through a full range of motion. According to research, increased resistance during in-water movements improves muscle strength and endurance. Aqualogix training at the same intensity and frequency affect fitness gains about the same as land based training. Quantifying aquatic resistance uses the Omni-Resistance Scale. Resistance training in the water must consider the length of limb, drag surface area, velocity/speed of movement and control of the range of motion – important for progressive overload. In the water, a double increase speed results in a 4x as great increase in resistance force of drag. When we speed up the movement, the execution becomes more difficult resulting in an upsurge of cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. For example, completing one repetition of an exercise in 2 seconds is at a baseline of drag; increasing the speed to completing 2 repetitions in 2 seconds increased the drag to 4 (squared) the baseline.

Target Audience

Drag resistance equipment is seen to attract a wider audience and is playing its part in helping facilities get more people in the water, Professional sports teams and athletes have been using this method of training for decades with exceptional results, and this range of equipment is allowing the general public to do the same. No longer is the water seen as a place only for the elderly or injured. Aquatic resistance equipment is allowing facilities to offer a huge range of classes to appeal to a wide range of fitness levels and interests. From High intensity training and aqua combat classes right through to active aging programs, there isn’t anything you can’t do. This makes it easy for facilities to run multiple classes, get more people taking their workout to the water and get outstanding value from their investment.

While buoyant equipment is frequently used in aquatics classes, it isn’t always delivering the desired training effect for the individual and is often only being used as it is the only option or what people are used to. Ongoing research and development has allowed for Aqualogix to release a range of equipment that truly capitalizes on the properties of water and delivers a workout like no other. The clever design also means they are ideal for the treatment of shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and lower back conditions.

In summary, you can now see that foam or buoyant equipment and drag resistance equipment are not one in the same. Yes, they both have their places, but comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. They are of different design and intended for different purposes. If you are trying to make a decision between on or the other, take a close look at your facility, your customers and what you are trying to achieve. Don’t be fooled by the initial cost as this can be deceiving. What is cheaper at the onset is often more costly and time-consuming in the long run, where as a bigger upfront investment usually generates a better ROI.

Remember, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Times are changing and it is perhaps time that your aquatic equipment did too!

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