Wall Tabatas & Pyramid Strength

Sunday, April 11 2021

Get ready to HIIT the pool wall for some Tabata training and then challenge your upper body with the water’s resistance.  AquaGym Fitness Workout #10, Pyramids & Tabatas, is a shallow water workout that alternates intense Tabata rounds using the pool wall with longer segments of muscular endurance that are taught with a pyramid/ladder style of training.  Drag equipment can be used to enhance the water’s resistance in the strength segments.

Known for fast-paced interval style workouts, AquaGym Fitness now has 10 water exercise workouts posted on Poolfit.  Almost all of them feature a template based on timed intervals that alternate high intensity training with lower intensity recovery.  According to AquaGym Fitness founder, Stephanie Newberry, Pyramids & Tabatas has been in their workout rotation for the past six years and is one of her class participant’s favorite workouts. “Our clients love Tabata training with the short 20-second bursts of work followed by 10 seconds of rest because 20 seconds of hard work seems "doable" in their mind,” says Stephanie. 

Wall Tabatas
The 20-second work/10-second Tabata rounds are performed using the pool wall in this video.  Wall exercises are an effective way to train the core and challenge cardio endurance.  The wall exercises can be performed in the center of the pool with an imaginary wall in the event of spatial or depth considerations that make wall exercise impossible.  This workout features two 4-minute Tabata rounds to spike the heartrate and cardio output.  The Tabata rounds are alternated with longer strength segments to provide the perfect blend of HIIT and strength.  

Pyramid Strength 
The two strength segments in this video are 15 minutes long and each feature 7 exercises that are taught with a timed interval template that follows a pyramid structure.  Pyramid is essentially ladder training.  The first set of 7 exercises is taught for 15 seconds, followed by 30 seconds in the second set and 45 seconds in the third set.  And then the ladder goes down.  Another round is taught for 30 seconds and then finally 15 seconds.  The 7 exercises selected for each of the strength rounds targets the major muscle groups of the body using the water’s resistance.  Additional drag equipment can be used for optimal resistance.

Variable Intensity
Interval training alternates high intensity work cycles with lower intensity activities that serve as recovery.   The varying of intensity between work and recovery is different for the many types of HIIT training.  Some formats feature complete rest for a very short recovery cycle.  Others include a recovery cycle that is longer and features moderate to low intensity.  The premise behind Pyramids & Tabata is that the entire Tabata round serves as the work portion of the workout with very high intensity and the strength segments serve as the recovery portion with moderate intensity.  The strength segments can essentially be performed at whatever intensity you want.  If performed with more velocity and force, the strength segments become more aerobic in nature. Science supports the fact that varying intensity in a workout can lead to greater fitness results, including more calories burned from fat storage and an elevation of the metabolic rate for a longer period post exercise.  In the video above, Stephanie explains the science behind the variable intensity in the Pyramids & Tabata workout

Aqualogix Equipment
The strength equipment used in Pyramids & Tabata are the Aqualogix Upper Body Belles. 

The belles simply act as surface-area extension of the hands, creating much more drag resistance for upper body strength gains.  The Green Hi-Speed belles are the smallest and designed for less resistance and cardio activities, or for those with less muscular strength.  The Black All-Purpose belles are medium sized and ideal for strength training and cardio activities for stronger individuals.  The Blue Max belles are the largest and should only be used for strength training by larger or very strong individuals. 

New Generation
Alissa Russel, pictured on the left above, is the newest and youngest AquaGym Fitness™ enthusiast. Fresh out of high school and interested in a future in the fitness industry, she reached out to Stephanie Newberry and AquaGym Fitness about a year ago. “We love young Alissa and we are thrilled to see aquatic fitness appreciated by a younger generation,” says Stephanie.  Alissa is currently studying to take her certification test with the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) so that she can share her water exercise passion with others. 

The weather is heating up and pools will be opening up soon.  Poolfit now has over 85 water exercise videos to help get or keep you in shape.  Transform your pool into a liquid gym with the Poolfit App. 

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.