HIIT Workouts for your Pool

Tuesday, July 13 2021

Ride the Wave 2 whips up a tempest in the pool with short bursts of all-out work combined with complete rest.  This 30-minute HIIT water workout is intended for more advanced participants.  USA aquatic fitness expert, Stephanie Thielen, is well known for high intensity interval workouts and she is at her finest in the Ride the Wave series.

Interval training is a type of exercise that features work and rest cycles for a set amount of time. Research has shown that intermittent intensity exercise, going from high to low, work to rest, may yield greater fitness results than steady-state training.  There are many different types of interval training and all have different work/recovery ratios that deliver different fitness outcomes.   Ride the Wave 1 included aerobic and anaerobic threshold intervals, which feature longer work cycles at a medium-high intensity, combined with longer recovery that includes lower intensity movement. Get ready!  The intensity goes way up in Ride the Wave 2 with HIIT VO2 Max and HIIT Max interval workouts, which feature shorter bursts of work and complete rest.   The benefits of HIIT include burning more calories in less amount of time and keeping your metabolic rate fired up for much longer after exercise, which can help you lose more body fat.

Get ready to exert more effort in the HIIT VO2 Max intervals, which are intended to be performed with a perceived exertion of 9 or 10 on the RPE scale. 
Let’s clarify the terminology.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training based on work & rest cycles. 
VO2 Max - refers to the maximum rate of oxygen consumption one can utilize during a bout of exercise.
RPE - Rate of Perceived Exertion is measured on a scale from 1-10, based on one’s own perception of the intensity of the exercise bout. The intensity level at an RPE of 9 or 10 should be so great that you can barely go on, barely breathe and barely talk. 
Please keep in mind that this level of intensity is more realistic for trained athletes.  Yes, Ride the Wave 2 is a more advanced water workout, but less advanced participants can join in provided that they work at their own pace and within their own abilities. 
Due to the higher intensity, the work duration in HIIT VO2 Max intervals is short, approximately 15-30 seconds.  The rest phase is typically between 30 to 90 seconds.  Because the work is so intense it is recommended that the recovery be “complete rest” as opposed to active movement. 


1:1 Ratio

Work:  30 seconds

Recovery:  30 seconds (complete rest)

10 sets | Alternating 2 Exercises

10 minutes


Descending Work/Rest ratios (complete rest)

4 sets of 30/15, 20/10, 10/60

10 minutes

The HIIT Max format features all-out intensity and that essentially means going for 10+ on the RPE scale.  What does 10+ RPE feel like?  It would feel like it is impossible to continue, and you would barely be able to breathe or talk.   Sounds like fun!  It’s not. I was the student in the video. It is hard work and it is meant to be. Once again, less advanced participants need to work at their own pace and within their own abilities.  The work duration in a HIIT Max interval is very short, 10-20 seconds, due to the very high intensity.  The recovery is complete rest.   That means don’t move; just catch your breath. 


1:1 Ratio

10 seconds work

10 seconds complete rest

10 sets | Alternating 2 Exercises

Total work time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds

Total recovery time: 3 minutes

This 30-minute workout can be done on its own or consider combing this shorter workout with another Poolfit video.  Stay tuned!  I am currently putting together a full-length deep-water version of Ride the Wave and it will post shortly. 

We hope you enjoyed this blast from the Fitmotivation archives.  Stephanie has been out of the fitness industry since making a career switch and becoming an elementary education teacher.  However, she did recently start teaching a couple fitness classes again and she has promised me that she will return to Florida in summer 2022 to film more workouts.

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.