Want to implement swim workouts in your weekly routine? Are you looking to improve your efficiency in the water? Ready to crush your personal best times?

Whatever your swimming goal may be, do yourself a favor by implementing these essential workouts into your routine. Every one of these nine swim workouts is crucial in taking that step to the next level in your swimming career.

Even if you do not feel comfortable swimming consecutive laps yet, do not worry, these workouts will get you there soon enough.

The beginner workouts will teach you the fundamentals of the major swimming styles and provide you with a solid base to become a stronger and more efficient swimmer.

For the intermediate swimmer, the focus will be on perfecting stroke technique with more advanced drills, as well as finding your different gears.

Once you have more experience and have developed the different strokes, the emphasis will be on building endurance and speed, so you are ready to compete.

Health Benefits of Swimming

Unlike other endurance sports – such as running or biking – swimming targets every single muscle of your body, so do not be surprised if your whole body feels sore after your first few sessions.

Runners often use swimming during times of injury because it is low impact on the knees, ankles, and hips. However, even if you focus solely on running, swimming has the potential to be much more than that.

If done right, swimming can be a great way to improve cardiovascular endurance and strengthen your core and upper body muscles, both of which cross-over to any other sport.

According to an extensive study by Harvard Medical, they found swimming to be among the activities that burn the most calories per hour.

This table compares swimming to other popular activities. The activities are listed from least to most calories burned per hour:

To learn more about how to improve cardiovascular endurance through breathing training, visit Airofit.com.

Beginner Swim Workouts

These beginner workouts are meant to make you feel comfortable in the water and begin building a solid foundation. Much of this foundational work will consist of teaching you the proper form and technique. If you have prior experience in other sports – such as running or biking – you know the importance of proper technique; in swimming, stroke technique becomes even more significant.

If you ever swam next to the youth swimmers of your local swimming club, you have probably wondered how a small 12-year-old girl can effortlessly out-swim a muscular 30-year-old CrossFit athlete.

The secret of these young swimmers is their immaculate technique. While it is easier to adapt the proper technique when you are young, it is never too late to start improving your stroke!

While doing the workouts below can help you develop a better stroke technique, it may be wise for you to get in touch with your local club or take some private lessons.

Having direct feedback from an experienced swim coach is invaluable at this stage of your swimming career.

Workout 1 = Drills

Swimming drills are great to improve stroke technique and awareness in the water. You can dedicate an entire session to these drills, or you can implement them in the warm-up of any workout.

Since freestyle (crawl) is the fastest stroke and most of your future workouts will consist of freestyle sets, here are two excellent freestyle swimming drills you can do:

1. Catch-up drill

You perform this great drill by keeping your left arm paused straight out in front of your shoulder, until your right arm “catches up,” upon which the left arm goes through its full freestyle cycle, and the right arm pauses out in front. By isolating arm movement, you are forced to use your kick to keep your body afloat in a horizontal line, AND it also promotes proper hand entry that does not cross over the midline.

2. Closed-fist drill

This exercise is precisely what you think it is. Instead of cupping the water with an open hand, you will be making a fist.

This drill may feel awkward since it takes away a lot of your pulling surface area, but it encourages you to swim with a high elbow, which enables your forearms to pull more water.

Workout 2 = Small Ladder

The ladder workout is an excellent first “real” workout since it is easy to remember, AND it eases you into swimming longer distances.

  • Warm-up: easy 2 X 150 (100 swim + 50 kick)
  • Ladder: 50-100-150-200-150-100-50 with plenty of rest in between each (up to 1 minute). All easy to moderate effort in your preferred stroke, focusing on good stroke technique.
  • Cool-down: 4 x 50 easy swim

Total = 1300

Workout 3 = Sculling

Just like drills, sculling is an essential component to improve technique for swimmers at any level.

Sculling improves your proprioception – a fancy word for sense of self-movement and body position – by isolating specific weaknesses in your stroke.

You do sculling by moving your hands and forearms quickly in a repetitive pattern while scooping on to as much water as possible – a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can target or isolate any part of the pulling phase of your stroke; the sculling variations are endless. Here are two examples:

  • Want to improve your hand entry --> spend some time sculling back and forth with your hands outstretched in front of you. Use a light kick to keep your body floating horizontally.
  • Want to finish your stroke stronger --> spend some time sculling with your arms parallel to your body so that your hands are sculling back and forth next to your thighs. Again, use a light kick to keep your body floating horizontally.

Intermediate Swim Workouts

At this point, you should feel pretty comfortable with your stroke technique, and you should be doing more consecutive laps.

The following workouts help you to build a strong base, which will aid you when workouts become more intense.

Workout 1 = Medium Ladder

  • Warm up: 3 x 200 (100 free – 50 back – 50 free) with 60secs rest
  • Speed: 6 x 25 fast with 30secs rest. Followed by 100 easy
  • Ladder: 100-150-200-250-300-250-200-150-100 at a moderate pace with 20 to 30secs rest
  • Cool down: 200 easy with sculling at the end

Total = 2750

Workout 2 = Endurance and Kick

  • Warm up: 4 x 150 (100 free – 50 back) with 60secs rest
  • Main set:
    • 3 x 200 free at moderate pace with 30secs rest
    • 6 x 100 free at moderate-fast pace with 20secs rest
    • 6 x 100 (2 fly – 2 back – 2 breast) at moderate pace with 30secs rest
  • Kick:
    • 200 moderate flutter kick with a kickboard with 30secs rest
    • 2 x 100 moderate dolphin kick with a kickboard with 20secs rest
    • 4 x 50 fast flutter kick with 10secs rest
  • Cool down: 200 easy with sculling at the end

Total = 3200

Workout 3 = Drills & Sculling

At this level, if you want to go from good to great, you must be incorporating drills and sculling into every single workout.

Even doing 5 minutes during your warm-up or cool down will help smooth out the imperfections in your stroke.

Scroll up to the beginner workouts if you want a more detailed look into the specifics of drills and sculling.

Advanced Swim Workouts

While technique is still important, you should be building up some severe volume by now.

These workouts incorporate more intense sets to get your body used to perform fast in a race environment.

By targeting both your aerobic and anaerobic system at regular intervals, you will become a well- rounded swimmer that can compete in all distances.

Workout 1 = Lactate Threshold

  • Warm-up: 4 x 200 (100 free – 50 back – 50 free) with 60secs rest
  • Neuromuscular activation: 6 x 25 sprint (1 fly – 2 back – 1 breast – 2 free) with 60secs rest. Followed by 200 easy.
  • Lactate threshold set (all are SPRINT with a start off the blocks):
    • 4 x 25 fly with 40secs rest
    • 3 x 50 back with 60secs rest

Extra minute rest

  • 4 x 25 breast with 40secs rest
  • 3 x 50 free with 60secs rest

200 easy

  • Slow endurance set:
    • 2 x 400 free easy with 30 secs rest
    • 6 x 100 free easy with 20secs rest
    • 6 x 100 back easy with 20secs rest
  • Cooldown: 150 easy with sculling at the end

Total = 3800

Workout 2 = Endurance and Kick

  • Warm-up: 4 x 200 (50 free – 50 back – 100 free) with 60secs rest
  • Drills: 4 x 50 choose your own drill (catch-up, closed-fist, fingertip drag, etc.)
  • Main set 1 (freestyle only):
    • 3 x 400 free at a moderate pace with 30secs rest
    • 6 x 200 free at a moderate pace with 20secs rest
    • 8 x 100 free at moderate pace with 15secs rest
  • Main set 2 (other strokes):
    • 3 x 200 back at a moderate pace with 20secs rest
    • 4 x 150 fly (25 one arm, 25 other arm, 100 full stroke) with 30secs rest
    • 4 x 150 breast at a moderate pace with 30secs rest
  • Kick (16 x 50 total):
    • 4 x 50 dolphin kick with kickboard build (faster each one) with 10secs rest
    • 4 x 50 backstroke kick build with 10secs rest
    • 4 x 50 breaststroke kick with kickboard build with 10secs rest
    • 4 x 50 free-kick with kickboard build with 10secs rest

Total = 7000

Workout 3 = Drills & Sculling

Even at the advanced level, you should still spend a lot of time perfecting your stroke and increasing your efficiency.

Drills and sculling are two types of exercises that you should be incorporating into almost every workout. Even doing a couple of drills during your warm-up or doing some sculling at the end of a workout will go a long way.

Scroll up to the beginner workouts if you want a more detailed look into the specifics of drills and sculling.