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One-Hour Workout: Swim Strength Builder

Use this simple, strength-based workout for open-water gains

This week’s workout comes from Milly Wade-West, a coach with QT2 Systems. Wade-West has been in the sport for eight years, is a USAT Level 1 coach, and is NASM-CPT-certified. She is also an eight-time Ironman finisher and qualified for Kona in 2017 at Ironman Maryland.

“Transferring winter gym strength to swim, bike, and run can be one of the most beneficial ways to increase performance,” says Wade-West. “Biking and swimming are strength-dependent sports, so developing the musculature necessary to produce power begins with building muscle in the gym. The next step is to use this muscle development in sport using paddles, ankle bands, hills, and low cadence workouts.”

Though simple, this strength-based swim workout does an excellent job of mimicking and complementing swim-specific gains made in the gym. Strength is particularly important for open-water swimming that involves rough water, constant lifting (to sight), and the reality of the race-day scrum.

This set is best done with easy swimming days both before and after, and should not be done within a week of race day. Expect your muscular system to be more taxed than your aerobic, so pairing with a tough ride or run workout in proximity should be no problem. Also, be sure you’ve been swimming consistently and injury-free for a few weeks prior—this workout will put strain on your shoulders and should not be performed if there are any nagging issues.

Warm-Up:
500 swim at time trial + 10sec pace
300 pull
200 kick

Main Set:
3 x (3 x 100 on TT + 10sec pace with paddles or ankle band, 200 easy pull)

Cool-Down:
500 easy swim

Total: 3,000