One-Hour Workouts for Swimming: Building Endurance, Improving Technique

Try this one-hour swim from One-Hour Workouts!

Base work for swimming is a bit of a catch-22. You need to build endurance, which generally means mileage. But mileage can also bring fatigue, which can be counterproductive early in your swim buildup because with fatigue comes loss of technique, and technique is the most important factor governing your potential in the water. The way to build base fitness without undermining technique is to bring both along at the same time. In cycling and running we tend to start the season with lots of long, easy stuff. But in swimming you should start with slightly higher effort levels over shorter distances and gradually lengthen workouts as fitness and technique improve. The slowest you’ll ever race is Ironman pace, so that’s usually where you should start the season.

This is a session put together with the help of my good friend and protégé Gordo Byrn, who went from a guy who couldn’t swim 400 m without stopping to a 50-minute Ironman swimmer in 7 years. With discipline and dedication it is very possible to improve one’s swimming a great deal. Believe in the work!

Building Endurance, Improving Technique

10 min.: Pyramid reps with bilateral breathing RPE 2 (5–10-sec. rest interval). For example, 50/100/150…150/100/50 with rest between each

4 × 400 m

odd reps: 400 m freestyle with bilateral breathing RPE 2 (20-sec. rest interval)

even reps: 100 m IM/300 m freestyle RPE 3 (15-sec. rest interval)

If you have time remaining, add some easy kicking and drills at RPE 1.

Remember that the goal of this session is to build endurance while improving your technique. If you feel yourself creeping to more than a steady eff ort, slow down. If you think that you need more rest during the main set, slow down.

When you’ve got more time, build the main set to 8 × 400 m.

This workout is from One-Hour Workouts, a collection of 50 swim, bike, and run workouts from top triathlon coaches that anyone can fit into a lunch hour–including warm-up and cool-down. Each of the 50 workouts in One-Hour Workouts are tightly focused on one goal so that athletes can get a quality training session in just one hour. Athletes can choose from base, tempo, or speed workouts in each sport to match their training plan’s goal for the day.