Swimming is one of the best ways to get an awesome workout.
The benefits of swimming are legendary: swimming burns a ton of calories, it can be done to target the full body (or lower or upper body), and getting some laps in is a great way to increase cardio and lose weight.
Fortunately, you can reap all of the perks of swimming with the right swim workout.
Whether you are looking to burn some calories, improve endurance, become a faster swimmer, or want a recovery workout after a big week, these one-hour swim workouts have your back.
Let’s dive right in.
Best One-Hour Swim Workouts
The 60-Minute Full-Body Swim Workout
One of the main benefits of lap swimming is that it’s an almost full-body workout.
While most swimmers focus on doing freestyle (front crawl) at the pool, mixing it up gives you more total range of motion and helps activate more muscle groups.
This swim workout is a little bit of everything: some kick to target the lower body, pull to target the back and shoulders, and mixing up the strokes helps improve feel for the water, spices things up, and helps reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries from doing endless amounts of freestyle in the water.
Here is the workout:
- 600 choice strokes as 200 swim, 200 kick, 200 drill
- 10×100 IM (fly, back, breaststroke, free by 25) @:20 rest – alternate between drill and swim by 100
- 8×50 swim alternate fast/easy by 50 — @:20 rest
- 6×50 pull alternate fast/easy by 50 @:20 rest
- 4×50 kick alternate fast/easy by 50 @:20 rest
- 50 swim all out
- Finish the rest of the hour with easy swimming and deep water bobs to loosen out
The One-Hour Sprint Swim Workout
Looking to crank up the speed and power in the water? This is one of my favorite sprint swimming workouts. It’s relatively short in distance (around 2,500m) but it is tall on speed, power, and intensity.
It features a warm-up mixing swim and kick (with swim fins) for a general warm-up, a pre-set that has some “strong” 50s of swim, and then all-out 25s with resistance, regular swimming, and speed assist.
Going through the three levels of resistance is a great way to really feel how your body moves through the water. After dropping the resistance from the 8x25s, you will feel as though you are getting shot out of a cannon.
- 1000 warm-up with swim fins – alternate 100 swim with 100 kick with a kickboard to give the legs a complete warm-up for the speed work to come
- 6x [100 swim/drill by 50 — :20 rest + 50 swim strong ~85% percent effort — :30 rest]
- 8×25 swim all out with swim parachute or DragSox – Take :40-:45 rest between 25s
- 50 swim easy
- 6×25 swim all out – take :40 to :45 rest between 25s
- 50 swim easy
- 4×25 swim all out with swim fins – take :40 to :45 rest between 25s
- 50 swim easy
The One Hour Endurance Swimming Workout
This is one of the best “meat and potatoes” swim sets you can do for building endurance.
It’s also more fun compared to the standard long and unbroken swim sets that endurance-minded swimmers tend to focus on at the pool.
By breaking up the swim workout into shorter, faster repetitions, you generate a faster average speed while keeping your heart rate in that aerobic capacity range.
How many reps you are able to do comes down to the interval you choose to use.
My recommendation is to find an interval that gives you approximately :20 rest. So, if you can hold a pace of 1:10s, use an interval of 1:30.
- 8 minutes choice warm-up; mix kick, swim and drill
- 2×50 free swim build on 1:00
- 30×100 free swim – best average pace – on 1:30
- 5 minutes easy swim to warm down
The One Hour Fat-Burning-Supreme Swim Workout
Kick/swim sets are another excellent form of swim workout that is gangbusters for getting in shape in the water.
These types of sets, which I love doing in sets of 100s, get the heart rate up fast, help to simulate race fatigue when ordered as kick/swim (for example: doing a 100 as 50 kick fast, 50 swim fast), and torch calories like crazy.
There are a lot of different ways to use kick/swim sets, from 50s (25 kick, 25 swim) up to longer reps, but in this 60-minute swim workout, we are going to crank out some 100s, focusing on maintaining the kick intensity of the first 50 into our “regular” swimming.
The goal with the main set—the 15x100s below—is to kick strong through the whole 100, from the time you push off with the kickboard until the moment you touch the wall after completing 50 swim.
Here is the workout:
- 600 swim, kick, drill by 100 – choice stroke
- 8×50 freestyle — ODDS: 25 kick, 25 swim + EVENS: 25 swim, 25 kick – desc last four reps to about 95% effort – take :20 rest between 50s
- 15×100 freestyle as 50 kick with a kickboard fast, 50 swim cruise – try to maintain kick intensity through the swim – pick an interval where you get around :25 rest between reps to keep heart rate up
- Choice warm-down swim and kick to close out the hour
Distance: ~2,500m +
The 60-Minute Recovery Swim Workout
Lots of 50s swim cruise + 25s perfect technique + drill
Alright, you’ve had a big week of training, or you are super sore after a big lift the day before, it’s time to hit recovery mode.
This swimming workout is all about swimming with perfect technique, keeping the heart rate relatively low, and lots of drills to maintain and even improve feel for the water while getting blood flow to those sore muscles.
We are going to take advantage of our favorite set of swim fins during this workout. They are a great tool for recovery day as they promote excellent body position and low-level engage more muscles in the legs, promoting blood flow and loosening up the joints.
- 600 warm-up choice with swim fins
- 16×25 dolphin kick with swim fins (no kickboard) – alternate kicking on side with kicking on back. Emphasize a full range of motion and amplitude to really stretch out the hips and back. Take :15 rest between reps
- 10×50 freestyle with swim fins – 25 “slow” but with PERFECT technique + 25 kick on side @:20 rest
- 20×25 freestyle with swim fins as – ODDS: swim at controlled, “easy”, speed (think around 85% effort), EVENS: sculling – @:30 rest
- 20 deep water bobs, shaking out the shoulders and arms
Distance: ~ 2,000
Tips for Getting the Most from Your One-Hour Swim Workouts
Here are some proven ideas for getting the best from yourself when hitting the pool:
🥇 Use dynamic stretches and movements before getting in the pool.
Swimming, like any other physical activity, requires a warm-up, a runway into the main part of the workout to allow your muscles and joints to warm and loosen before you crank up the intensity.
You can do this in the water, but if you are working with just an hour of pool time, part of it can be done prior.
See also: 8 Essential Stretches for Swimmers
Arm swings, leg swings, air squats, planks—physical movement before jumping in the water means you can spend more time swimming at a high intensity versus warming up in perpetuity.
Here is a quick and dirty 6-8 minute activation routine that you can use before your next swim that targets all of the major muscle groups and joints you use in the pool:
- 10 Arm swings – cross chest
- 10 Double arm backstroke arm swings
- 10 Monkey arm swings
- 10 Leg swings (front to back)
- 10 Leg swings (side to side)
- :30 second plank
- 10 air squats
- 5 push-ups
🥇 Use kick in your warm-up.
The biggest muscles in your body are in the legs. Use lots of kick during your warm-up to get your heart rate up and blood flowing through the hips and quads, muscle groups that are essential for helping you kick stronger and maintain better body position in the water.
Sprinters, in particular, should emphasize thoroughly warm legs before swimming into the main set.
Add some kick to your warm-up and prep yourself for a killer main set.
🥇 Have a goal in mind and a set in hand.
There are benefits to being limited with time—you are forced to be honest and judicious with the time you have at hand.
Go to the pool with a workout in mind (better yet, write it down) so that you don’t waste time while in the water.
Writing out a workout for yourself prior to going to the pool will keep you honest and force some accountability when you hit the water.
Swimming Terms for New Swimmers and Swim Parents. Wondering what all the lingo and vocab you need to know before jumping in the pool? Here’s a look the most common terms to understand that swim workout.
5 Swimming Workouts You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less. Short on time? Check out this article I posted at SwimSwam that includes five swim workouts that can be completed in half an hour.
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.