Tuesday, July 02 2019

Rediscover continuous training and get the oxygen flowing, the heart pumping and the calories burning with some aerobic choreography.  Aerobic Splash is designed to counter-balance programming that is heavy on high intensity interval training (HIIT) by reintroducing longer duration cardio segments. 

Australian Aqua Training Specialist, Claire Barker-Hemings noticed her students were starting to lag during cardio segments that were longer than a few minutes. Like many other instructors, Claire had been teaching a lot of HIIT formats, including Tabata in her classes because her students enjoyed the high intensity and the novelty of the timed segments.   Sensing a need to recharge their aerobic capacity, Claire started blending in longer (20-minute) aerobic segments with the HIIT drills.  Aerobic Splash features three of her favorite continuous training segments, each representing a different movement plane. 


Aerobic versus Anaerobic Exercise

According to an online article posted on BistroMD, the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise can be summarized as follows:


Aerobic is defined as "living, active, or occurring in the presence of oxygen."  The key factor in the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is oxygen.  With aerobic exercise, oxygen supplies energy to sustain continuous, rhythmic movements of large muscles. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are able to move and contract repeatedly without fast fatigue.  “Aerobic fat burning” begins after about 20 minutes of continuous movement.  Getting into the aerobic zone would require a heart rate between 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate. 

Unlike aerobic, anaerobic exercises occur in the absence of oxygen. Instead, anaerobic exercise relies on energy breakdown from muscle stores rather than oxygen supply during aerobic activity.  Also, unlike aerobic exercise and their constant flow of movement, anaerobic exercise is short in duration at high-intensity levels. It often uses fast-twitch muscle fibers to carry out short bursts of high-powered exercises.  Anaerobic exercise is typically unable to be carried out for more than two to three minutes at a time.  This type of training is touted for its after-effect, reportedly burning calories well after the exercise session is completed.  Intended more for non-endurance athletes and body builders, achieving an anaerobic state would require a heart rate between 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate.



Most health experts agree that a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise is best.  The introduction of HIIT training into aquatic fitness classes several years ago helped to compliment steady-state training, which was more commonly taught.  Students started noticing results and instructors enjoyed the popularity of the programming.  But has the proliferation of HIIT instruction become too much of a good thing?   The reality for many aquatic fitness instructors is that they teach classes comprised of very older adults and individuals who have a host of orthopedic and chronic issues.  Is it realistic for this population to achieve a heart rate of 80-90% with exercises that typically involve high impact, speed and plyometrics?  If the students are now being exposed exclusively to HIIT training, are the five components of physical fitness being served?  



Honestly, I am not trying to start a debate here or report any hard, scientific facts, but I can report my own keen observations from my classes at the Sarasota YMCA.  Yes, I teach to a very older population and yes, I teach HIIT in my classes.  The students love when we do Tabata rounds.  Truthfully, I think they just like the fun pre-cued Tabata CDs.  During HIIT drills, my unscientific observation of facial expressions and athletic performance leads me to conclude that next to NONE of my students are hitting an anaerobic heart rate of 80 -90%.  And nor would I want them to lest I have to employ my never-used CPR skills.  My point here is that if the threshold is not being met are the benefits of anaerobic training being obtained?  Probably not. This won’t stop me from teaching HIIT in my classes – but I do so with eyes wide open and encourage others to do the same. One more thought on this.  If we trap our students in a perpetual cycle of rest/recovery/repeat – what happens when we want them to keep going?


Work and recovery cycles are a beneficial style of training regardless of whether students reach the anaerobic threshold.  Life does not occur in steady-state and it is important to train the full spectrum of energy systems.  So maybe we keep the interval training (IT) but go easy on the highest of high intensity (HI) expectations.  Without doubt, HIIT training is popular.  Participants and instructors both love the simplicity (non-choreographed) and athleticism of the exercises.  If students love the programming they will keep coming.  Exercise adherence is key to results. So let’s not burn HIIT protocols at the stake; instead let’s blend a realistic version of it with other training to maximize results for the students.     



The traditional aerobic bell curve became old school after interval training became all the rage.  Maybe it’s time to bring pieces of the bell back?  Most instructors, even the most choreographed such as I, have realized for many years now that it is beneficial to integrate bursts of higher intensity exercise into a continuous training (choreography) format. Now we need to think of this in reverse.  HIIT delivers a better metabolic bang and trains the body for immediate surges of energy, but continuous training is needed for activities that require cardiorespiratory endurance.  If you only teach HIIT drills, your students will perform poorly with longer duration activities.  If you only teach aerobic training, your students will perform poorly with higher intensity activities.  Therefore, maybe we should consider longer duration cardio segments blended into our HIIT classes.  Claire came to this conclusion after making her own unscientific class observations.

Please allow me to provide a personal testimonial that Aerobic Splash will get your heart pounding.  As the student in this video, I LOVED this routine.  Claire taught it very similar to the way I instruct classes, using add-on and layering techniques.  The major muscle groups were perfectly balanced because each of the three segments featured exercises from the three movements planes – frontal, sagittal and transverse.   And best of all, she taught a grand finale…which is my favorite part! 


Claire taught to a playlist of 135 bpm.  If you liked the playlist in the video you can download it from Yes Fitness Music. 
Ethnic Rhythm Party


Fitmotivation extends a big thank you to Claire Barker Hemings for traveling all the way from Melbourne, Australia to share her passion and talents.  Be sure to check out her recent video, Aqua Gloves & Loops, as well as her other Fitmotivation videos – Aqua Ballet Beats and Liquid Pilates.   Claire is also a representative for Arbonne and is happy to assist with nutritional, wellness and skin care needs. 







Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.