3 Swimming Workouts for Beginners

3 Swimming Workouts for Beginners

Swimming is a killer way to get in shape. Here are three swimming workouts for beginners that will get you in shape, improve your technique, and have you leaving the pool smelling like chlorine and success.

The benefits of swimming are almost endless.

It’s easy on the joints, you are working your whole body, and circling the black line is great for improving lung capacity. As most swimmers know, it’s also a great way to unplug from the world, your smartphone, and have some quiet moments to yourself.

Whether you are a competitive swimmer returning to the pool after taking time off, a triathlete looking to up their swim training, or you are a beginner to the sport and looking to up to your game, these swimming workouts will ge

Over my thirty years in and around the pool, I have used variations of these swim workouts, both with myself and with swimmers (and non-swimmers).

The goal of the workouts isn’t to destroy you or to leave you so wrecked that you can’t come back again tomorrow or later in the week for another session.

These beginner swim workouts are designed to help you progressively get better while getting enough rest that you are swimming well.

Let’s dive right in. 

Swimming Workouts for Beginners

Beginner Swim workout Number One – 1,000m

12×25 warm-up @:20 rest between reps

Take extra minute rest

200 – 100 freestyle swim, 100 kick choice — @:30 rest

4×25 – free swim build to fast — @:20 rest

100 – 50 freestyle swim, 50 kick choice — @:30 rest

4×25 – choice stroke build to fast — @:20 rest

Take extra minute rest

8×25 warm-down  @:20 rest between reps

  • ODD REPS: freestyle “perfect” technique
  • EVEN REPS: breaststroke smooth

Beginner Swim workout Number Two – 1,600m

8×50 warm-up – 25m freestyle, 25m backstroke – @:20 rest

Take an extra minute rest

16×50 – all with @:20-30 rest between reps

  • ODD REPS: kick (using your favorite kick-board or not, up to you!)
  • EVEN REPS: swim as 25m freestyle build to fast, 25m backstroke OR breaststroke cruise

Take an extra minute rest

8×25 warm-down – double arm backstroke – @:20 rest

Beginner Swimming Workout Number Three – 2,000m

200 swim choice + 100 kick choice

4×50 descend effort 1-4 – 25m freestyle, 25m backstroke – @:20 rest

Take an extra minute rest

12×100 – all with @:30 rest between reps

Take an extra minute rest

6×50 warm-down — @:20 rest

  • ODDS: smooth freestyle with the best technique possible
  • EVENS: backstroke swim easy

How to Build Awesome Swim Workouts for Beginners

In the above swim workouts for beginners, there were some key concepts that we focused on. You can use these specific concepts in designing your own swimming workouts as you progress in the water.

Here are the key things that you should focus on as a beginner swimmer when designing your own swim workouts:

Alternating freestyle (front crawl) with other strokes.

With the warm-up sets and even some of the main sets, you will notice that there is a healthy mix of strokes. This is done to keep your shoulders fresh and your technique at a high level. One of the perks of swimming exercises is the ability to attack your goals in a variety of ways.

Even elite swimmers break up their freestyle training with intervals or other strokes. Swimming is a very technical sport, and even as a beginner your goal should always be to swim with the best (and most efficient!) technique possible.

See also: Laps vs. Lengths in Swimming – What’s the Difference?

Good technique isn’t just about looking good in the water—crappy technique and muscle imbalances are a leading cause of swimmer’s shoulder.

The goal with these swim workouts isn’t to shatter your shoulders with long, repetitive bouts of swimming, but rather give you enough rest that you can swim faster for longer while also maintaining superior technique.

Lots of kicking.

I can hear you triathletes out there groaning—kicking? Really?

Yeah, I know, doing lots of flutter kick when you have poor ankle flexibility or you just aren’t good at it can suck.

But your legs burn way more oxygen than your legs (aka, you get a better workout), and a good kick helps you maintain proper body positioning, helps your arms recover properly, and gives your shoulders a break.

Kicking is also a great way to lessen the demand on your shoulders, which can take a beating over the course of long stretches of swim training.

Loose intervals.

One of the hardest things for swimmers just getting back into the swing of things is managing expectations. Especially if you were swimming at a high level before, it can feel discouraging to see yourself struggling to swim the same distances and making the same intervals.

The “intervals” in these workouts are designed as rest periods instead of strict intervals. The good thing about taking :20 rest, or :30 rest, after each rep is that it doesn’t matter if you are going fast or slow, the amount of rest remains static.

As you are getting used to the pool and working your way to getting into better shape, stick with rest periods instead of intervals. The latter will come in latter as you gain proficiency and conditioning.

Feeling a little lost with swimming terminology? I put together this list of common swim practice and swim meet terms that will help you get a handle on the language of the sport.

Loosen up with plenty of arm and leg swings before you hop in the water.

The key—again—is to keep your joints healthy and cut down the likelihood of injury. Which means you should prep for your swim workout with a healthy collection of arm and leg swings.

Single-arm forward, single-arm backward, monkey arms, leg swings, etc. Do 10ish of each.

Arm and leg swings will get blood flowing and loosen up the ligaments and muscles around your joints. This kind of mobility work kicks the chlorine out of static stretching and means you can spend less time warming-up and more time working out.

More Swim Workouts and Stuff: 

3 Swimming Workouts for Supercharged Weight Loss. Looking for some swimming workouts to lose weight? Try these 3 swim workouts that are designed to torch fat and help you get fit.

40 Ultimate Workouts for Competitive Swimmers. Here are 40 swimming workouts for sprinters, distance swimmers, butterfliers, IM’ers, and everyone in between courtesy of some of the top programs, swimmers and coaches in the world.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of YourSwimLog.com. He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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