As a new swimmer, it can be challenging to know how to write a good swim workout. How do you make sure you’re challenging yourself and progressing toward your goals? We’re here to help! 

Check out our tips for building structured swim workouts that will help you make the most of your time in the water!

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What Are Your Goals?

Before you dive into workout writing, take a moment to decide what your swimming goals are. Whether you want to get into a swimming routine, improve your endurance or learn a new stroke, each workout should focus on something specific.

It’s impossible to work on everything in one workout, so focused, structured goals should always be your first step when building out your workouts.

Related: How to Set SMART Goals

Swim Workout Structure

At the beginner level, swim workouts have 3 key parts:

  • Warm Up: 10-20% of the workout. Activate your body and prepare your muscles for the main set. Gradually build up your heart rate.
  • Main Set: 60-80% of the workout. This is the main focus of your workout.
  • Cool Down: 10-20% of the workout. Lower your heart rate and flush out lactic acid from your muscles.

For a more advanced swimmer, workouts can include a few more elements:

  • Warm Up: 10-20% of the workout. 
  • Pre-Set: 5-20% of the workout. Focus on the skill you’re trying to develop. This could include speed work or drills.
  • Main Set: 40-70% of the workout. This is the main focus of your workout.
  • Post-Set: 5-20% of the workout. This is your chance to polish the skill you worked on earlier in the workout. If you worked on speed, you may complete another, varied speed set here.
  • Cool Down: 10-20% of the workout. Lower your heart rate and flush out lactic acid from your muscles.

Related: How to Write a Swim Workout (Advanced)

Don’t Get Carried Away

You may want to try to pack as much as possible into your workout, but that isn’t always a good idea! Focus on developing one skill at a time. Think about it: If you always work on something different each swim, you won’t see drastic improvements. Stick to one focus for at least a few weeks at a time, and then switch it up.

Think About Workout Density

It’s also important to be mindful of workout density, or the amount of yardage you’re doing per unit of time. If you’re doing a 1,000-meter workout in 30 minutes, that is considered less “dense” than doing the same 100-meter workout in only 20 minutes.

Rest time plays a big role in workout density. If you don’t give yourself enough rest during your warm up, you may not be able to perform well during the main set, which should be the focus of your workout!

If you’re working on speed, your workout will be less dense to account for extra rest time. If you’re focusing on endurance, your workout may be more dense. 

Related: 3 Swim Workouts for Beginners

Sample Beginner Swim Workouts

Check out these workouts for examples of how to structure your workouts. Try building your own workout in the MySwimPro app and customize your intervals, stroke, equipment, heart rate zone and more!

Workout 1: 500 Meters

Warm Up: 100 meters

  • 4×25 Freestyle (Max. Distance Per Stroke*), 10-20 seconds rest after each 25

*Max. Distance Per Stroke = Each stroke, extend as far as you can to maximize the distance you travel each stroke

Main Set: 300 meters

  • 6×50 Freestyle (Focus on breathing), 10-20 seconds rest after each 50

Cool Down: 100 meters

  • 4×25 Freestyle (Silent Swimming*), 10-20 seconds rest after each 25

*Silent Swimming = Use all 5 senses to become extra aware of your stroke, and minimize splash in your stroke

Related: 10 Beginner Swim Tips for Adults

Workout 2: 1000 Meters

Warm Up: 200 meters

  • 4×50 Freestyle (Max. Distance Per Stroke), 10-20 seconds rest after each 50

Pre-Set: 100 meters

  • 4×25 Kick (Short & fast kick), 10-20 seconds rest after each 25

Main Set: 500 meters

  • 5×50 Freestyle (Max. Distance Per Stroke), 10-20 seconds rest after each 50
  • 5×50 Freestyle (Max. Distance Per Stroke -1*), 10-20 seconds rest after each 50

Max. Distance Per Stroke -1 = Whatever your typical stroke count for a 50, try to reduce it by 1. This helps improve your stroke efficiency!

Cool Down: 200 meters

  • 4×50 Freestyle (Silent Swimming), 10-20 seconds rest after each 50

Beginner Swim Training Plans

Need inspiration, or want to jump start your swimming routine? Give these training plans a try:

Getting Started

  • Goal: Improve freestyle technique & endurance
  • Duration: 2 weeks (3 workouts/week)
  • Average Workout: 500 meters (20 minutes)

Beginner Weight Loss

  • Goal: Begin a weight loss journey
  • Duration: 8 weeks (2 workouts/week)
  • Average Workout: 700 meters (20-30 minutes)

Couch to 1k

  • Goal: Complete a 1 kilometer swim workout
  • Duration: 6 weeks (3 workouts/week)
  • Average Workout: 600 meters (20-30 minutes)

Beginner Freestyle

  • Goal: Improve freestyle efficiency
  • Duration: 4 weeks (2 workouts/week)
  • Average Workout: 800 meters (25 minutes)

Freestyle Technique Bootcamp

  • Goal: Improve freestyle stroke mechanics
  • Duration: 2 weeks (4 workouts/week)
  • Average Workout: 1,500 meters (40 minutes)

What are your swimming goals? Let us know below! 

For more swim workouts and technique tips, download the MySwimPro app! Use code YOUTUBE20 for 20% off our ELITE COACH subscription. Join our Global Community Facebook group to connect with other swimmers and stay accountable to your goals.

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