Set of the Day: Unlock Pro Mode on Your Kick

Set of the Day: Unlock Pro Mode on Your Kick with This Swim Workout

Here’s a kick workout that will boost your underwaters, power up your kick, and improve overall leg fitness. Let’s get after it.

There’s no way getting around it: if you want to swim fast, you need to be able to kick fast.

You take a look at some of the top swimmers on the planet, past and present—sprint god Alex Popov, the GOAT Michael Phelps, newbie sprint legend Caeleb Dressel—and they all have phenomenal kicks. (Popov could kick 50m in :27 seconds. Nasty.)

Here’s a set that I did recently to help improve all areas of my kick: there’s some speed work, power work, underwaters, and a lot of cruise kicking throughout to keep your heart rate up to get some of those sweet, sweet aerobic gains.

Here’s the full workout:


  • 500 mix swim + 500 free kick


3 rounds–

  • 800 free kick, every 4th 25 fast @:60 rest
  • 10 min vertical fly kick, as 10x [:10/:15/:20 sec “fast” by round, rest of the minute recovery] @:60 rest

Set Notes:

  • “Fast”: This is high tempo kicking; aim to be doing at least two kicks per second (so >20 kicks on round 1, >30 kicks on round 2, >40 kicks on round 3.
  • Hold your breath for the first 5 seconds of the “fast” vertical kicking to simulate an actual underwater breakout.
  • The rest of the minute is a recovery tempo.
  • With the vertical kicking chunk of the “meat-and-potatoes” set make sure to keep your core tight and braced, and then transfer that to the fast underwater 15m reps that are coming up next.


  • 20×25 @:45 as 15m underwater dolphin kick FAST, rest of 25 swim easy


  • 200 backstroke swim + 200 kick

Net result: kicking super-awesomeness.

More Stuff Like This:

The Ultimate List of Workouts and Practices for Swimmers. Our ever-growing collection of practices and sets to help you dominate your personal best times.

How to Develop an Awesome Underwater Dolphin Kick. The fifth stroke. Phelps’ secret weapon. The equalizer. These are just some of the things the underwater dolphin kick has been known as over the years. Here’s your guide to mastering it.

How to Develop an Unstoppable Freestyle Kick. The top athletes in the pool are not only fast swimmers, they are fast kickers. Here is your guide to a faster freestyle kick.

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

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