Popular Swimming Pool Workouts

Popular Swimming Workouts

During the winter months, many people who email me are looking for an alternative to running outside. In other words, what can they do inside to still workout. This column's focus on indoor fitness activities is on swimming. Many clubs, community centers, and YMCAs have indoor swimming pools for use throughout the year. Here is what I like to do in the pool regardless of climate. This should help answer the following question covering a variety of workouts to keep the cardio high and fat metabolism moving during what many consider to be the toughest time of the year to lose weight - the Holidays!

"My goal now is to be in shape as much as possible with the schedule I have which is 50 - 60 minutes during my lunch time in a swimming pool. Which of your books would you suggest I buy? P.S.. I have been through all your 45 day plan trainings before as well as your PFT workouts."

No need to buy any ebook/book as I do not have any that solely focuses on swimming. So, if you just want swim workouts check out some of these ideas:

Swim Workouts for Cardio:

Do sprints/fast swims/kickboard/underwater swims first phase (20-30 minutes) then go to easy pace cardio swims to burn fat at a higher rate the 2nd half of the workout. If you can get anaerobic first and then go aerobic in the later part of the workout, you can focus on fat burning the last 20-30 minutes.

Workout #1

  • 5 x 50m sprint freestyle (change strokes as desired)
  • Rest with 20 seconds (hydrate if needed)
  • 5 x 100m sprints -- any stroke
  • Rest 40-60 seconds

The remaining time of your hour, swim at regular pace non-stop for 15-30 minutes

Organize other workouts by adding kickboard / underwater swims too

Workout #2

  • 5 x 50-100m sprint/rest with 50m kickboard using flutterkicks
  • 5 x 50-100m sprint/rest with 50m kick board using breast or dolphin kick

Swim with fins for 15-30 minutes non-stop

Stretch your legs well as you will feel the burn after kickboarding using flutterkicks.

For more of an upper body pump add in some calisthenics or weights in between laps

Workout #3:

Repeat 5 times

  • Swim 100-200m moderate pace
  • Pushups - 30 seconds worth of pushups (10-40 reps depending on fitness level)
  • Abs of choice - crunches, setups, flutterkicks, leg levers - 1:00 of abs

Workout #4

(Bring a medium and a light weight set of dumbbells to the pool deck)

Repeat 5 times

  • Swim 100-200m moderate pace
  • Pushups - 10-20
  • Crunches - 20-30
  • Bicep Curls - 10-20 reps
  • *Military Press - 10 reps

(If you really want to challenge your shoulders, bring a 5 lbs set of dumbbells and add in the "Best Shoulder Workout" in place of military press above. Adding in the LWS workout is very tough so I usually do this one 2-3 times max throughout the entire workout and skip some of the sets of shoulder workout)


Now, if you are really creative, ask the pool management if you can donate a pull-up/dip bar to the club or community center. I placed a Pull-up, Dip and Vertical Knee Raise machine on the pool deck and in between several laps I add in some pull-ups/ dips to the above workouts. Now the swim teams use it in their training programs as well.

But I usually do the following workout when I have access to a pool and pull-up bars:

Repeat 5-7 times

  • Swim 200-250m moderate pace (adding some hypoxic swims in there too)
  • Pushups - 20-30 reps
  • Variety of abs - 20-30 reps
  • Pull-ups - max reps or 10-15 reps
  • Dips - try to match pull-ups.

The best thing about this type of pull-up/dip machine is that if you cannot do pull-ups or dips, you can do an assisted version which is pull-ups using the dip bar and keeping your feet on the floor. You can also do bench dips with a chair if you cannot do regular dips too. See "Pull-up Tips" for more info.

I hope these ideas will help you with your training in the pool during the colder months of the winter when running and PTing outside is not an option. If you have any questions about training or want to share another swim workout, please feel free to email me at stew@stewsmith.com.

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

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