Deep Water Mini Interval Workouts

Wednesday, July 21 2021

Filmed in 2017 and featuring Stephanie Thielen, Ride the Wave was an epic 2-part shallow water series that featured 6 different types of interval training.  Inspired by this science-backed, results-driven format, I decided to create a deep water version.  Get ready for a 53-minute tsunami of high intensity deep water exercise. 

Interval training is popular because it delivers the kind of results that people want.  All exercise is good, but research has shown that intermittent intensity exercise may yield better weight loss results than steady-state training.  Varying intensity from high to low, work to rest, seems to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, while promoting greater fat loss. Research also shows that high intensity interval training (HIIT) boosts the metabolic rate longer into the day after exercise is completed.  Practicing this workout for 8 days in a row while preparing to film, I can provide personal testimony to these findings.  I had the best Monday morning weigh-in that I’ve had in 6 months.  I’ll take it!

Keep in mind, the results are based on adherence to the work and recovery cycles and the intensity expectations.  In other words, you have to exercise at the level required during the work cycles, as well as honoring the recommended recovery and rest periods.  Not working hard enough and not resting as required may limit results.  With that said, all exercise is beneficial, and it is important for class participants to work to their own ability.  Interested in learning more?  Take a deep dive with Mark into intensity recommendations for interval training in this 5-minute video.


The first wave serves as a warm-up as the intensity is more moderate. Using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) that measures intensity on a scale of 1 to 10, the goal would be around a 6 or a 7.
Work:  2 minutes of aerobic exercises
Recovery:  2 minutes of active movement/stretching at a lower intensity  
Sets:   Two sets are performed for a total of 8 minutes

The intensity progresses in each of the intervals.  The RPE expectation in this interval would be around an 8.  Mark explains the difference between aerobic & anaerobic in the above 5-minute video. 
Work:  2 minutes of high intensity exercises
Recovery:  90 seconds complete rest & active stretching
Sets:  two sets are performed for a total of 7 minutes and 30 seconds.

Work:  45 seconds of very high intensity exercise
Recovery:  Descending time ratio of rest as each set is performed - 90, 75, 60, 45, 30 seconds. 

WAVE # 4   HIIT 1
The intensity goes way up as we move into high intensity exercise and shorter bursts of work. 
Work:  30 seconds
Recovery:  30 seconds (complete rest)
8 sets of work & rest are performed for 8 minutes

WAVE #5   HIIT 2
Descending Work/Rest ratios (complete rest)
4 sets of 30/15, 20/10, 10/60
10 minutes

WAVE #6   Max Interval
10 seconds work
10 seconds complete rest
Two exercises are performed for 6 sets of work & rest
4 minutes

Ride the Wave Deep was specifically designed for deep water fitness. Much of the workout can be performed in shallow water, but modifications are not provided for deep-water specific exercises. Therefore, instructors will have to add modifications if they want to teach this routine in shallow water.  A flotation belt is required for exercising in the deep end.  Webbed gloves are optional but highly recommended.

Video Music
The music playlist used in this video, Industrial Strength Beats, was from Power Music's Virtual Class Music and can be downloaded for $14.95.  Full disclosure, the BPM on this playlist is 140, but I lowered it to 130 for the video because I wanted to do many of the movements to the beat of the music.  Just a personal preference!

Fitmotivation extends a big thank you to Stephanie Thielen for the inspiration and expert template for this video. Check out some of her other Fitmotivation videos.   Stephanie has switched careers and is now an elementary school teacher.  I suspect she maintains impeccable control of her classroom!  We do hope to get Stephanie back to Florida next summer for more videos. 


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.