Tuesday, July 02 2019

Interval training is popular in aquatic fitness classes because it is easy to teach, easy to follow and it delivers results.  USA Aqua Expert, Stephanie Thielen is well known for high intensity interval workouts for the pool and she now shares an epic interval tutorial for Fitmotivation video subscribers.  Ride The Wave, a two part video, features education and exercise templates for four different types of intervals:  1) aerobic  2) anaerobic threshold  3)  HIIT VOMax  4)  HIIT Max.

Ride the Wave part 1 features aerobic and anaerobic threshold intervals.  Three class templates – one for aerobic intervals and two different kinds of anaerobic threshold interval class templates are included with the notes.  Not only can instructors take away Stephanie’s workouts, but they can also insert their own favorite moves into the class templates for endless variations of aqua interval challenges. 

Ride the Wave is intended to educate instructors on the science behind interval training, including the importance of recovery, often the missing ingredient in results-oriented programming.  What is interval training?  Exercising in this manner refers to alternating between higher (work) and lower (recovery) intensities.  One period of work and one period of recovery (rest) are referred to as a work cycle.  One work cycle equals one set.  In an aqua fitness class, several sets would be performed. 


The first type of interval training featured is aerobic interval training.  This type of training is most suitable to beginning exercisers, deconditioned individuals and people with cardiac and other health issues.  The work cycles feature moderate to high intensity exercise followed by active/dynamic rest.   During moderately intense aerobic exercise, an effort of 50-70% of maximum heart rate (MHR) would be expected.  Exercising at 70-80% MHR would be considered high intensity aerobic training.   When working between 50-70% MHR, also known as steady state training, the exertion should be fairly comfortable and a short conversation would be possible. Conversational abilities start decreasing once you start approaching the threshold of aerobic and anaerobic training at around 75-80% MHR.  Recovery or rest in an aerobic interval should remain dynamic - actively moving at a lower intensity.


1:1 ratio

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 exercise effort becomes downright breathless in anaerobic interval training as oxygen supply can no longer meet demand.   The work intensity is now around 80-90% MHR, best suited for healthy individuals who possess an aerobic endurance of 30 minutes or greater.  The benefit of anaerobic exercise includes muscular strength, increased cardio endurance and best of all – increased caloric expenditure.  Can you do this type of training in an aqua class with mixed populations?  Short answer.  Yes.  The simple fact is that students ultimately will only work to their own abilities and should ALWAYS be encouraged to do just that.  More than likely, deconditioned individuals will exercise in their comfort zone of 50-75% of MHR regardless of the format you are offering.  However, the good news is that students who are fit and healthy have the opportunity to challenge themselves and achieve results when this type of training is offered.   How do moves become anaerobic?   Consider moves that are big, powerful, bounded, plyometric and suspended.  When performed over a period of time, 30 - 180 seconds, these moves will achieve the desired effect and thus desired results.  Recovery in an anaerobic threshold interval would be either complete rest or light active stretching/movement, depending on the length of the rest period. 


1: .75 ratio

Work:  2 minutes of high intensity exercises

Recovery:  90 seconds complete rest & active stretching

Sets:  Three sets are performed for a total of 10 minutes and 30 seconds.


.75: Descending ratio of rest

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.  Recovery includes complete rest and active stretching.

 The three interval samples in this workout represent three different approaches to interval training.   As the student in this video, I can assure you that as we progressed from aerobic to anaerobic interval training I could VERY much feel the difference.   The exercises Stephanie selected for these samples certainly did the job.   But even better, Fitmotivation subscribers will not only have access to Stephanie’s notes, they will have access to class templates allowing them to create an entire class with their own favorite moves. 

Fitmotivation would like to offer a BIG thank you  Stephanie Thielen for this invaluable education on aquatic interval training.  New to Fitmotivation?  Check out Stephanie’s other videos.  They have been some of the most popular and commented on videos.   Stay tuned for next month and Ride The Wave 2.   The intensity gets CRAZY as Stephanie presents aquatic interval samples that include HIIT VO2Max and HIIT Max interval samples.  An extended educational handout and AEA CEC Quiz will also be posted with part 2. 



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.