Get Fit In The Water With This Pool-Based HIIT Workout

circuit training
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If you’re lucky enough to be a member of a gym with a pool, do you find you don’t really use it? Perhaps you’re put off by the smaller size of gym pools, even if you’d normally find you’d have the whole pool to yourself (as is the case with our local one). Well, here’s a reason to dive in – an aquatic HIIT workout from Tim Andrews of gym chain DW Fitness First.

DW Fitness First has launched a new class called H2O HIIT, which involves doing a series of exercises in the water. But why do a HIIT workout in the water, we hear you ask? “H2O HIIT training is a great HIIT substitute for those who need to avoid high-impact activities because of injury,” says Andrews, “and also for those who might feel they are not fit enough, or that the exercises in typical HIIT sessions are too hard. But it’s also a great additional way to train for those who are already participating in HIIT sessions.

“Exercising in the water is less stressful for the body because buoyancy helps to reduce impact. The water is also the perfect environment for those who want to work hard because muscles need to overcome the resistance caused by currents, and moving through the water is harder and slower than moving on land.

“The water’s cooling effect is also ideal for those who do not like to feel hot and sweaty, and because the water covers the submerged part of the body, the participant cannot be seen by the other members of the session, which some people might prefer.”

Pool-Based HIIT Workout

This workout is best done with a partner if possible, since the finisher involves two people. Also, having someone with you will probably make you feel less self-conscious about doing exercises in the pool.

After warming up by running in the pool in a circle and doing some high knees, do two circuits of the following five stations.

In the first round you work for 60sec then take 30sec to transition to the next station. In the second round work for 40sec and take 20sec to transition to the next station.

Resistance Station

“This station uses the water to create resistance, and build muscular strength and endurance,” says Andrews.

Repeat rounds of the following two exercises, doing the reps as detailed until the time is up.

1A Lateral raise

Reps 8

Keeping your shoulders under the water, raise your arms out to the sides. If you have some kind of water weights available, hold one in each hand.

1B Tuck jump

Reps 2

“Jump” off the pool bottom and lift your knees towards your chest.

Cardio Station

“At this station the water is used to enhance traditional plyometric exercises,” says Andrews. “You take out the impact but add the resistance of the water to achieve high-intensity, low-impact exercises.”

2 Cheerleader jump

“Jump off the pool bottom and kick your legs out to the side, aiming to get your toes out of the water,” says Andrews.

Fight Station

In the H2O HIIT class they have special mitts that can be worn in the water, but boxing bare-knuckle will still provide a good workout.

3 Shadowboxing

Throw four jabs, then two hooks. Jump and turn 90° to the right, then throw the same combination. Keep your shoulders under the water when throwing your punches.

Core Station

“This station focuses on core stability,” says Andrews. “By adding eddy currents and buoyancy, your core muscles will be challenged in different ways than on dry land.”

4 Scissors

Grab a woggle (or pool noodle) and hold it under your arms as you float on your back with your hips up. Scissor your feet up and down.

Swimming Station


“This means as many lengths as possible!” says Andrews. “Using any stroke, swim as many lengths as possible before the time runs out.”


You’ll need a partner to perform the move described below by Andrews, but if you’re flying solo then you can still finish your workout with a flourish by knocking out four minutes of running laps of the pool as fast as possible, working for 40sec and resting for 20sec.

Woggle races

“Stand back to back with your partner,” says Andrews. “Partner A places the woggle around their chest and under their arms. Partner B holds the ends of the woggle and lifts their feet off the floor. Partner A runs and pulls partner B the length of the pool. Partners then swap positions. Complete as many laps as possible in four minutes.”

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.