But do so cautiously.
During plyometric exercise, a muscle lengthens while it is contracting and producing force. This type of exercise program a mainstay of many athletic team weight-training programs during the off-season can increase muscle strength in less time than traditional resistance training.
Both groups reported similar levels of muscle soreness immediately after each workout, but the gym-based group reported significantly more soreness compared with the pool group in their hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles two to three days after exercising.
Yet plyometrics can also cause severe muscle soreness and even damage, said Steven Devor, a study co-author and an assistant professor of sport and exercise sciences at Ohio State University. Devor and his colleagues found that doing plyometric exercise in a swimming pool significantly decreased the level of muscle soreness athletes felt two to three days after a workout.
"The participants who did the exercises in water had the same gains in muscle strength as the group that did the workout in a gym," Devor said. "Until now, no one had looked at the possibility of doing plyometrics in water."
The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The researchers asked 32 physically active college-aged women to participate in an eight-week plyometric training program. Each woman had exercised regularly for at least six months and had also participated in organized sports for at least five years. The women agreed to forgo other forms of lower body resistance training and all aerobic workouts during the study.