Total Body Tabata Pool Workout

Wednesday, April 19 2023

Looking for some high-powered strength and cardio training in the pool?  AquaFIIT Tabata TBC with Katy Coffey is a 45-minute water workout that can be performed in both deep and shallow water. The total body conditioning (TBC) is achieved with the water’s resistance and by targeting different muscle groups and training styles with each of the 8 Tabata rounds.

AquaFIIT Tabata TBC follows the traditional Tabata template 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 template, Katy has intentionally provided a variety of exercises in each of the rounds. For those following along in the pool, it is simple to swap in different water exercises if you need some variety after doing this workout a few times.

Tabata training has been incredibly popular in aquatic fitness classes over the last decade. Instructors enjoy the simplicity that the template provides and class members like the intensity and the results. Poolfit’s Tabata water exercise videos are some of the most viewed and downloaded videos on the app. 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 Tabata protocol had to be drastically modified once it entered the mainstream fitness industry. Below, Katy shares more about the workout and some of the history behind Tabata training, in order to better understand this specialized approach to fitness.  
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.


Poolfit once again extends a big thank you to Katy for sharing her passion and expertise with subscribers. Katy filmed 6 videos in 2022 and 4 videos in 2021. Check out her Poolfit library.  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.