Deep Water Tri-Circuits

Wednesday, October 23 2019

Experience a deep water format that targets essential components of fitness with a circuit-style approach.  Deep 321 delivers results with a simple template that breaks each circuit down into three minutes of cardio, two minutes of muscle endurance and one minute of flexibility.

The 3-2-1 format in has been floating around the fitness industry for a number of years.  The timing ratio in each format varies depending on the intended outcome.   For example, originally starting with three minutes of muscle endurance and two minutes of cardio, I changed the timing ratio once I started practicing and realized how fun the traveling cardio segments were.  Consequently, I adjusted the ratio to three minutes of cardio and two minutes of muscle endurance and therefore changed the outcome by making it more of an aerobic workout.  Instructors can adjust the 3-2-1 ratio to whatever fitness component they want to emphasize more. 


This workout features a warm-up, cool down and five 6-minute circuits.


  • Cardio: 3 minutes

Four moves performed for 15 seconds or a 32-count music phrase each.  This 4-move circuit is performed for a total of three times.

  • Muscular endurance:  2 minutes

Four moves performed for 15 seconds or a 32-count music phrase each.  The 4 moves are performed twice. 

  • Flexibility:  1 minute

A lower body stretch is performed once on the right for 30 seconds and then on the left for 30 seconds.

The cardio in this workout includes lots of travel, forward and back, as well as lateral.   There are also lots of changes in body position, with the body moving up, down, to the right and to the left. 

The movements in circuits 1 and 3 target lower body.  Circuits 2 and 4 target lower body and circuit 5 is all about the core.

The last minute of each circuit stretching.   This is also a good time for recovery and deep breathing

The music playlist used was Mark’s Dance Instrumental Mix and is available for download at Muscle Mixes Music.  The cadence was slowed to 126 bpm.  The music phrasing was used as timing in this video. Each 32-count phrase is approximately 15 seconds.
For filming purposes, I demonstrated the moves in the water.  However, I obviously would teach these moves from deck if leading a class.   Teaching deep water from deck can be tricky.  Watch me explain a tip I use for showing challenging deep water moves.

Exercising in the deep end requires a flotation belt so that the arms and legs are freed up to perform aerobic movements. The belt I am wearing in the video is my personal favorite and it is from WaterGym and available in the Fitmotivation Marketplace. Watch me explain the importance of wearing a flotation belt in deep water exercise. 

As mentioned above, Deep 321 is a simple template that can be adjusted to change intended goals for cardio, muscle endurance, strength, core, balance, flexibility and more.   Stay tuned for Shallow 321 coming soon!


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.