Total Body Aqua Tabata Rounds

Wednesday, April 19 2023

Looking for some new Tabata ideas for your water fitness classes? AquaFIIT Tabata TBC with Katy Coffey is a 45-minute aquatic fitness class format that can be taught in both deep and shallow water. The total body conditioning (TBC) is achieved with the water’s resistance and by featuring different muscle groups and training styles in each of the 8 Tabata rounds.

AquaFIIT Tabata TBC follows a traditional Tabata format by including eight 4-minute rounds, as well as a warm up and cool down. Each round includes 8 exercises performed for 20 seconds at high intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest. In this class template, Katy provides a variety of movements and exercise order in each of the rounds. The best part of a Tabata template is that it is easy to change up and select new moves when you want to refresh your class.

Tabata training has been incredibly popular in aquatic fitness classes over the last decade. Instructors enjoy the easy-to-teach template and class members like the easy-to-follow along style, as well as well as the intensity and the results. Fitmotivation's Tabata aquatic fitness videos are some of the most viewed and downloaded videos on the streaming platform. Developed over 30 years ago, the original Tabata protocol was just 4 minutes of maximal effort exercise and utilized strictly for elite athletic training. The original Tabata protocol has been dramatically altered to make it doable in mainstream fitness classes. Below, Katy shares more about the class format and some of the history behind Tabata training.

Creating a Tabata Water Workout
By Katy Coffey
The Tabata Protocol is a popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) method that originated in Japan in the mid-1990s. The protocol was developed by a Japanese scientist named Dr. Izumi Tabata, who was conducting research on how to improve the performance of the Japanese speed skating team. Dr. Tabata and his colleagues discovered that short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest could significantly improve cardiovascular and metabolic fitness. The Tabata Protocol gained widespread popularity in the fitness industry after a 1996 study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that just four minutes of Tabata-style exercise could produce similar benefits, compared to longer, traditional cardiovascular workouts. Given this glowing research, Tabata-style workouts have become a popular option for people looking to get a quick, effective, and challenging workout.

A true Tabata workout lasts only 4 minutes, consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This protocol was designed to be a highly efficient and effective way to improve cardiovascular and metabolic fitness. While the Tabata Protocol is brief, it is also incredibly challenging, as it requires exercisers to push themselves to their maximum capacity during each 20-second work period. It is important to note that while Tabata-style workouts may incorporate similar intervals or exercises, a true Tabata must adhere to the specific 20/10 timing protocol

Obviously, as Tabata entered mainstream fitness it was not feasible to offer a 4-minute class of elite athletic maximal effort.  Therefore, Tabata was adapted over time and instructors started incorporating one of two rounds in their classes.  Ultimately, Tabata became an entire 45-50 minute class with modified intensity expectations. AquaFIIT Tabata TBC implements Tabata timing but focuses on strength and conditioning intervals rather than just maximal cardiovascular output. Each of the 8 rounds have a specific focus of training. By changing up the exercises and style of training, the body can work at maximum output with adequate rest between blocks.

AquaFIIT Tabata TBC:  Workout-at-a-Glance

1. Muscle Prep (running drills with arm variations)- 8 moves

2. Wall Strength – 2 moves

3.  Upper Body – 4 moves

4. Lower Body -Unilateral Training – 4 moves

5. Intervals of Propulsion & Level 3 - 8 moves

6. Wall Core Training – 4 moves

7. Total Body Conditioning – 8 moves

8. True Tabata – 1 move

Best of all, this workout can be performed in both deep and shallow water and no equipment needed.  AquaFIIT Tabata TBC is my go-to option for large classes, allowing me freedom to change up the moves but still follow the protocol.


Fitmotivation extends our thanks to Katy for sharing her passion and expertise with subscribers. Katy filmed 6 videos in 2022 and 4 videos in 2021. Check out her bio and Fitmotivation library of videos.  There is one more of her videos from the 2022 filming left to post. Stay tuned for Smart Circuits, a pool workout that will post in the coming weeks. Speaking of her 2022 filming, watch a fun behind-the-scenes video of the action on the filming set. 


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.