A Swimmer's Workout Program
By Jill Gardiner
, last updated December 23, 2011
Because swimming is a sport that uses the entire body, it should come as no surprise that an effective workout program should contain variety of approaches to hone every aspect of a swimmer’s fitness. A swimmer’s workout program should be designed to address several factors: proper technique, increased speed and strength, better stamina, and an ability to generate power when you need it. Incorporate some of these targeted workouts in your swimmer’s training program to see improvement in all aspects of your performance, including your motivation.
Rather than simply doing lap after lap and only varying the stroke, try mixing it up a bit to both keep things interesting and vary the focus of the workout. After you’ve warmed up, try doing 16 50-meter laps, alternating between a free stroke and either a butterfly, back, or breaststroke for each lap. Don’t worry about speed at this point, going only as fast as you need to in order to maintain proper form. Follow with 400 meters concentrating on your kick, half with a kickboard, half without, to both build lower body strength and allow you to concentrate on form. Follow with 400 meters using a pull buoy, half done freestyle to build upper body strength and using either a butterfly, back, or breaststroke for the second half to focus on technique. Next do five sets of 100 meters each using only your kick, and do it descending, meaning that with each set your speed should increase. Follow with the same pattern but focus on your pull. Finish with a cool-down of 300 meters done freestyle.
Based on a concept the Swiss call fartlek or “speedplay,” these workouts focus on alternating between high and low intensity workouts to increase your body’s ability to both harness and call up extra power when you need it and its ability to recover quickly after you’ve exerted yourself. Start by warming up, and then do five sets of laps, breaking each up into sections. The first should start with 100 meters of building speed, then 200 meters at the fastest speed you can tolerate, and follow it up with 100 meters at medium speed. The next set is 100 meters at a slow pace, 50 fast, 50 slow, 50 fast, and finish with 100 slow. The third set is 200 meters at a building speed, 100 fast, 100 slow. The last two sets are 200 meters of pull and kick, respectively, with the first 100 meters done in a stroke and the last 100 freestyle. Cool down with 400 laps.
Warm up, then do eight 50-meter laps alternating between a slow and medium pace every 60 seconds, then alternate between medium and fast speeds for the next eight laps. Next, do eight 100-meter laps, descending, then eight more doing the first 75 meters fast, rest for 10 seconds, and sprint the remaining 25 meters. Cool down with 300 meters done freestyle.
While swimming offers a lot of health and fitness benefits, cross training is another important part of a swimmer’s workout routine. Dry land cardio exercises such as jogging, treadmills, cycling, or rowing is helpful, as is weight training and plyometrics. Stretching/strengthening exercises such as yoga or Pilates are also beneficial. Incorporate some of these into your workout program for all-around fitness.