How To Plan A Swim Workout | Structure Your Next Swimming Session


(upbeat music) – Do you ever head to the pool for a swim and stand on the edge
of the pool and wonder, “What on Earth should I be doing?” Well, don’t worry. You are definitely not alone. So many swimmers just jump in the pool and swim back and forth without a plan. But if you’re really serious about trying to improve your swimming and
improve your performance, then this is definitely not the
way you want to be training. You want to be following a
structured and specific workout with a clear goal in mind. So today I’m going to be
helping you with designing and structuring your own swim workout. (computer whirring and chiming) (upbeat music) Now as a very simple overview, a swim set should include all
of or some of the following. A warmup, a pre-set or drill
set, a main set, a post set, and a cool down. But for most of us out there, and particularly, for those
time crunched amongst us, at a very minimum, you want
to be including a warmup, a main set, and a cool down. Now many of you out there
are probably used to heading to the pool and knowing
that you need to cover, say, 2,000 to 3,000 meters, but that’s about it very often. Now actually just plodding
up and down and covering that distance isn’t going
to make you the best swimmer that you’re capable of. You want to be having
structure in your session and really focusing on key
areas such as your speed, your strength, your technique, and so on, all in the most efficient way
possible to really maximize that use of all your precious time. (upbeat music) So let’s begin with the warmup. So the aim of the warmup
is, surprise, surprise, to warm the body up. Also to mobilize the
joints, wake the body up, and really get the muscles
ready for that workout ahead. This is, obviously, going to
result in better performance during that workout and going forward. But also it’s going to
reduce the risk of injury. So with that in mind, it’s really important that
you ease into warmups. In fact, before you even get in the water, on the pool deck, I’d really advise you to do some arm swings just
to mobilize those joints. Simple things like a single arm swing or even a double arm swing
as you wrap your arms across your chest and outwards again. And then when you are
ready, jump into the pool, but ease yourself in. Build into it really gradually. Far too many people start
off way too fast in a warmup. In terms of what you
actually do in your warmup, well, I’d really advise
you break it down into nice bite-sized chunks, rather
than just jumping in and trying to do 1K straight. So something like 200 meters freestyle, take a 20 to 30 second rest, 200 meters pull, take a similar rest, 100 meters kick, rest, and then finishing with 100
meters drill of your choice. So that gives you a 600 meter warmup. But note this; all that
in easy easy aerobic pace. The pull work there is to isolate the arms and make sure that
they’re really warmed up and ready for the workout ahead. The kick is the same. The technique work is really
there to enforce good technique prior to the main set, and
hopefully make sure you’ll be carrying that technique forward into the rest of the workout. Now honestly, 600 meters is plenty for most people out there, particularly if you’re doing 2K or less for the entire workout. But if it is still quite punchy for you, then do, obviously, feel
free to break that down into slightly smaller chunks
and slightly shorter reps. But if on the other hand,
you are planning on doing some slightly longer workout, 2K or more, then you’re going to want to
do a slightly longer warmup, something around 800 meters or so. (upbeat xylophone music) (upbeat music) Right, now into the
meaty bit, the main set. But before we do so, just
give yourself a minute or so to collect yourself. We’re going to make sure
that you’re prepared, you know what you’re doing
and what your goals are. Now I like to break these goals down into four different types. We’ve got your aerobic
endurance distance sets. We’ve got those speed
sets, threshold sets, and then, finally, we’ve got the technique and strength sets. Now I’m not saying that
you need to be doing all four different types in one week, but I would really advise
that you’re mixing things up and each swim has a different
goal and a different focus. But, of course, if you are
planning on swimming three, four, or more times per
week then, of course, yes, you are going to start repeating yourself. So what you actually
decide to focus on and pick depends on a few things:
your current fitness level, the time of the year, maybe
the time of your season if you are competing, and
your strength and weaknesses. So say, for example, you’re
fairly new to swimming or maybe just not feeling
that confident in the water at the moment, then you’re going
to want to do aerobic swims, you want to do technique swims, and maybe strength swims for good measure. But if you are focusing on an
event and it’s getting close to that race, then you’re going
to want to do a threshold swim in your weekly training schedule. That’s going to really help you hone in on those race intensities. But if you have identified a weakness, perhaps you can swim at a nice
aerobic pace all day long, but you lack that top-end speed, then you want to include a speed workout to really knock that top-end speed up. So that’s really interesting, but how do we actually
structure a workout? Well, let’s start off with
a typical aerobic set. (upbeat music) So this might look
something like one times 400 meters with 25 seconds rest. Then into two by 200 meters
with 25 seconds rest. And then finishing off with
four lots of 100 meters, also with 25 seconds rest. So as the name suggests,
this should be aerobic. You shouldn’t be breathing
hard through this set. In fact, it’s somewhere around
65 per cent of your maximum. And if you are looking to
achieve or do longer distances in your swims, then
this is the kind of set that you can start
increasing incrementally. A good example that I’ve
always enjoyed doing myself is 16 lots of 25 meters as
every fourth 25, maximum effort. And then all the others,
an easy aerobic pace, taking 30 seconds recovery between. Then 12 lots of 25 meters
as every third, max, taking 25 seconds recovery. And then eight lots of 25
meters as every second, max, taking 20 seconds recovery, and then finishing with two
lots of 25, all max effort, taking 15 seconds recovery. (upbeat music) So all in all that’s a 950 meter main set. And it’s quite fun
because it really focuses on that quality max effort with a nice, long recovery to start off with. And then it reduces
that recovery over time. But if you are starting
out with the speed reps or something, maybe, you lack, then I would recommend
something for nice, short reps. You really do get that quality and really unleash that speed. We’re now on to the threshold sets, and these are, possibly, the least enjoyed because they really do push the body. The idea is that it’s getting you to work at your body’s threshold for
a sustained period of time. And typically, we refer
to a threshold in swimming as your best pace over 20 minutes. Now, of course, you
can get an exact number for this threshold pace doing
things like the CSS test, or you can just take a bit of a punt using some of your old times. Now I would add, if you
are fairly new to swimming or you just plan on swimming for fun, then this is not for you. But if you are looking to
improve your performance and further your swimming, then I would highly recommend doing these sets. A classic threshold set example
is four lots of 100 meters at threshold pace, taking
a relatively short recovery of 15 to 20 seconds. Then into one 100 meter easy,
taking a longer 30 to 40 second recovery, and then
repeating the set through one, two, or even three more times. Now you notice that the
recoveries were quite short in this set, and it does
make it really quite tough. But providing you are working
at your threshold pace and you’re not going beyond that, it really should be doable,
although I will warn, it does bite a little bit towards the end. And finally, we’re on to the technique and strength sessions. Now this is an opportunity
to focus on your technique for an entire session. Now as I mentioned
earlier, I really recommend with technique work to
just break this down into nice bite-sized chunks, nice short reps to focus
on good quality technique. And then you can just
reset after those reps and then off you go again. Also, the strength work, this is great during the off season. I like to do a lot of this. I’d include some pool work to really isolate and work the arms. And then you can also include paddle work, and that will really emphasize that and really work on that strength. And finally, to finish a
set we have the cool down, which is a bit, I know a
lot of people skip out. I know that because I used
to do it a lot, myself. But honestly, it is so
important to include. The reason being, it actually
keeps the blood flowing, and that helps to remove
some of the waste products like lactic acid that can
really pull in the muscles. And in turn, that’s going to
help improve your recovery and allow you to back up
those sessions day after day. Now it doesn’t need to be long. At a very minimum, 200 meters. I typically advise something
like 100 meters kick, followed by 200 meters swim. All right, I know that
there’s a lot of information to take in there, so if
you do have any questions, please do drop them in
the comments section below and I’ll do my best to
answer them for you. But a final little tip
for you here is that when you do have that main
set or the whole workout, write it down on a piece of paper, bring that along to the swimming pool. Actually, you can stick that
to a kick board by splashing a bit of water at it, or
alternatively, onto a swim block. But just make sure you do remove it at the end of the workout
because that will annoy the pool staff quite a bit. If you have enjoyed today’s video, do hit that thumbs up button. If you’d like to see more from GTN, click on the globe and
subscribe to the channel. If you’d like to see or how
it’s performed, a CSS test, you can see that by
clicking just down here. And if you’d like to see our
“How to Swim Freestyle” video, you can see that by
clicking just down here.

24 thoughts on “How To Plan A Swim Workout | Structure Your Next Swimming Session”

  1. Mmh not a lot of butterfly/backstroke/breaststroke in there, I like mixing things with those other swim styles, during the warmup or between sets

  2. Nice timing before my friday swim workout.

    I always start with a 100m sprint and try to beat my personal best.
    Than a 1-2 or 3k also try to beat my pb
    As last i do 10 interval sprints with 1min rest between.

  3. Thanks for the high quality videos from you guys, I have learned a lot and you are a great team 🙂

    I have been swimming freestyle frequently for a couple of years, and get compliments about my technique. Until now, my sets have always been very technique-focused always with some balance and rotation drills. However, my endurance is really, really, really bad. I mostly able to only swim 50s with breaks. I usually breathe every two to the right, but lately have been trying to use every three more, also trying to learn tumble turns. Learning this seems not very compatible with swimming more lengths though, especially since breathing to my left is more complicated due to less exhaling and rotation and the tumble turn attempts right now easily make me lack oxygen.

    I got a recommendation to try swimming 100s at around 2:00 pace, with 30s breaks inbetween. Right now this seems totally impossibly, although I can swim a 25 at 30s without trouble. I also believe that I should really focus on the endurance part, and possibly put the tumble turns and bilateral breathing aside, or maybe making it its own part of a set. Not sure on how to incorporate this.

    I feel a bit lost on how to structure a set, to be honest. Would you recommend using fins to string together more lengths, or would this be doing myself more bad?

  4. Great workout ideas! Just to clarify: for the speed session, are you taking the 30/25/20/15s recovery after every 25m, or at the end of each block of 25ms that you prescribe? E.g. for the first set, do I take 30 seconds rest after each 25 meters, or at the end of the 16 x 25m?

  5. I’d usually have a session planned but some days I get extremely demoralized when I can’t complete the sets/keep up with the time.

    What would you recommend?

    Also, I think it’d be nice to talk about training fatigue, how to recognize them and how to deal with them:)

    Thanks and keep up the amazing work!!

  6. Now admittedly I don't watch every GTN eps but have you ever addressed the long trunk vs speedo issue? I've noticed Mark uses both….why? What exactly are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

  7. Example of a main set – for a speed work day I did recently.
    5 rounds of 6x25m on 30 at 200 pace … after each set of 6, 50 easy on 1:30. I tracked it with my Phlex and averaged 15.2 on the 25s.

    Oh and that was butterfly 🤪.

  8. Thanks for this video! Besides knowing what to do? How about knowing how to plan interval swims and how to train with a pace clock? I've encountered workouts with send-off times with the fastest, mid, and slowest times like 1:15/ 1:20/ 2:00. How are those determined and which to use?

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