Get excited about your aquatic training
program. Add some enthusiasm and effort. See some dramatic results.
It’s all possible using a method called interval
Interval training simply means a workout that combines
high-intensity portions with moderate- or low-intensity
Athletes use it. During continuous aerobic training the program is
organized so the workout intensity begins at the low end of the
target zone and gradually increases to moderate and high intensity
before tapering back down to the low end.
Interval training is different in that it is based on short bouts
of intense exercise during which the workout intensity is at the
top end and often into the anaerobic zone. These high-intensity
bouts are separated by recovery periods during which the workout
intensity is low to moderate intensity.
This technique, usually reserved for well-conditioned athletes,
trains us to maintain near-maximum heart rate (all-out effort) for
a longer total time than would be possible with continuous
training. Use it to enhance fitness training regimens.
An interval training workout begins with a normal thermal and
cardiorespiratory warm-up period followed by about three minutes of
aerobics at a moderate intensity. That’s followed by
approximately one minute of all-out effort before returning to
moderate or low intensity for three more minutes. Six to nine
cycles usually are completed during the aerobics part of the
program before cooling down and stretching.
“Cycle” means the combination of one low- and one
high-intensity set. The low to moderate-intensity portion is called
the “recovery” period. The high-intensity part of the
cycle is called “work” and pushes you to all-out
effort. The “work-to-recovery ratio” means how long the
high-intensity (work) lasts in comparison with the moderate- or
While 1 to 3 is the most common work-to-recovery ratio for
beginning programs, the very fit may try a 1 to 2 ratio (30 seconds
work to 60 seconds recovery, 45 seconds work to 90 seconds
recovery, or 60 seconds to 120 seconds; or any 1:2 mix.
Professional and Olympic athletes reverse this and use a 3 to 1
The most important thing is to be comfortable with the ratio and
times chosen. Clients should be able to completely recover during
the recovery part of the cycle.
Here’s an example of a vertical aquatic exercise cycle.
Jumping Jack Jumps with all-out effort for one minute. Jumping
Jacks with moderate effort for three minutes. That’s one
cycle. Repeating it three times would be three cycles.
The cycle doesn’t have to be 1 minute to 3 minute segments.
Any mix that feels challenging is fine. Most interval training
programs use a 1 to 3 work-to-recovery ratio. This can mean 60
seconds of high intensity followed by 3 minutes of low, such as the
other example — or 30 seconds work followed by 1 ½
minutes recovery, or any 1 to 3 ratio time segment that feels
Midriff-depth water seems ideal for shallow water. The dive well
works fine, too. Water temperature between 80 and 82 is best for
interval training. The workout may be too exertive for adequate
heat dissipation to occur if the temperature is higher than
There are three common errors seen in aquatic interval training.
Using movements that are too quick for safe implementation, using
the same muscle groups repeatedly, and allowing improper
Be aware that increasing the speed of the movements might elevate
the heart rate and perceived exertion level, but may compromise the
joints and connective tissues. Keep the exercises at a moderate
speed and increase intensity by increasing the range of motion
(making moves bigger), increasing elevation (jumping higher), and
using more muscle force (putting power in each move). Moving
through the water also will increase the energy requirements.
Because it’s easiest to overload the system by using the
large muscles in the body (the hamstrings, gluteals and
quadriceps), it’s easy to forget to use the others. Unable to
think of a way to use adductors and
abductors for the high-intensity portion? Think about using them
during the recovery time or in the warm-up or cooldown.
Proper alignment and good exercise control are essential to a safe
program. Most exercisers are very cautious about those factors. For
some reason, exercisers ignore common sense and fitness knowledge
during all-out effort. Clients think that if they’re working
hard like athletes, they can ignore good alignment.
Good alignment and pelvic stabilization are even more essential
during the peak effort segments of class.
Interval training moves can be incorporated into any aquatic
exercise program. They can add variety, interest, renewed
enthusiasm and excitement. Experiment with setting aside 10 minutes
for intervals during your next workout. You’ll love the