Kickboxing-Inspired Cardio Jam

Sunday, July 28 2019

Create some splashy thrills with a kickboxing-inspired cardio jam.  This lower body focused workout features progressive kick combinations, followed by drills that challenge the core with an intense circuit of feet-up vs feet-down exercises. This video includes an audio workout and rich media enhancements to educate the targeted muscles.

Winner!  Ding, ding, ding.   I know I say this all the time about my routines, but I REALLY do love this kick jam and so do my students.  The kick combinations are easy-to-teach and the drills are core crazy intense.  Fitmotivation’s video team, Studio KRP, put this video over the top with some special graphics that highlight the targeted muscles during the warm-up, kick combinations and final stretch. 



Kicks and punches are ideal for the aquatic environment due to the water’s resistance.  Kickboxing-inspired workouts have been featured before on Fitmotivation, but I really wanted to include a “guided” kickboxing style workout for PoolFit, the fitness consumer site.  Playing around in the pool with punch and kick combinations, my first couple attempts at a routine were simply too complex to film as a follow-along workout. Therefore, I decided to focus on just the kicks with a workout that moves the legs in all directions to target all of the major muscle groups of the lower body. 


Dual Depth

The original plan was for shallow water only, as punch and kicks combinations are really not possible in deep water.  However, as the routine morphed into “kicks only,” the routine for the most part can be taught in the deep end with some modifications. Deep-water instructors are encouraged to practice the routine themselves before teaching to students. 



This 50-minute pool workout features four kick combinations that target different muscle groups, followed by four drills that target the same muscle groups.  Also included are a warm-up, two Finale rounds and a final stretch.


Kick Timing

The kick combinations are performed with four intensity progressions.  Each round is performed with repetition reduction based on the music phrasing.  The timing of the kick combinations is 4-minutes based on the following reduction:  64 counts, 32 counts, 16 counts and then the final cut of 8-counts each performed with right and left lead (twice).


Kick Template

  1.  Karate kick – the kick combination begins with a half-water tempo karate kick.  The cadence is slower and serves as recovery after the power (single) kicks.  The arms are held neutral during the karate kicks to introduce a little more balance and core activation
  2. Repeater 4 – the arms become involved and the intensity is progressed with a repeater 4 variation of the karate kick.
  3. Doubles – the intensity increases again as the kick is reduced to a double variation of the karate kick.
  4. Singles – the power gets turned up to full max as these power kicks are meant to be performed explosively with bounding and aggressive arm movements.


Up and Down Drills

The 2-minute drills feature two exercises, one performed with feet ON the pool floor and the other performed with feet OFF the pool floor.  The two exercises are alternated with repetition reduction based on the following music phrasing timing:  32-counts (twice), 16-counts (twice) 8-counts (twice).  As the time spent with feet up and down is reduced, the core challenge increases.  Going between up and down on the 8-count is nearly impossible and most participants will not be able to keep up.  However, the effort of trying to get feet up and down at an increased pace is an intense core challenge.  These drills are killer and they are meant to be.  If participants do not want to bring their feet off the floor, they can modify the suspended exercise.



This lower body focused warm-up features a blend of active and passive stretching.  Watch the entire 4-minute warm-up.


Kicking to the front puts more of a focus on the anterior muscles - the quadriceps and hip flexors. The posterior muscles are also recruited but the focus is on the front muscles with a more powerful thrust upwards. 



Kicking to the side puts more of a focus on the outer thigh or hip abductors.   The inner thigh also gets worked but the concentration is more on a forceful kick to the side. 


Kicking to the rear puts more of a focus on the hamstrings and glutes.  The Aqualogix ankle blades are introduced in this segment for added resistance. 


The crescent kick is more complex, requiring participants to lift their hip and knee inward and then sweep outward.  The internally rotated hip puts more of a focus on the inner thigh.  The move is really a crescent KNEE lift rather than kick as the cadence is too fast to extend the leg in that short of time. 


The action will feature first all four slower karate kicks, then all four repeater kicks, then all four doubles and finally all four power singles.  The second round will have reduced repetitions.



In this special edition bonus round, the action features all front Karate kicks, then side, then rear and then crescent.



This lower body focused stretch features graphics that indicate the muscle being stretched.  Watch the entire 5-minute stretch.


The Aqualogix Ankle blades were used in the second half of the video to demonstrate that you can increase the water’s resistance and the overall intensity of the workout with drag equipment.  Watch a video that was originally posted for Dynamic Water Yoga, explaining the addition of drag equipment to your workout.  


Stay tuned for an upper body focused workout of punches, drills and thrills posting in the next couple months.



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.