One-Hour Workout: Technique and Tautness

Learning to hold your body taut in the water is key to achieving optimal body position—and this workout will help get you there.

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Remember Katie Ledecky’s viral chocolate milk video, where she swam with a glass of chocolate milk on her head without spilling? It’s an impressive feat, for sure – and it’s more than just a fun party trick. The strength and skills require to pull off Ledecky’s stunt are also essential to becoming a better triathlon swimmer. This week’s One-Hour Workout helps you develop the tautness that is so critical for optimal swim technique. This workout is featured in the Technique chapter of Gerry Rodrigues’ book, Triathlon Swimming.

Begin with a 10-minute easy swim, gradually waking up the body and gently elevating heart rate. There’s then a long prep set with a technical focus, which you can scale back dependent on time/fitness/ability. Start with 800, alternating 100 kick, 100 swim, continuously. Wear fins for this and kick on your back, with your arms outstretched overhead, thumbs interlaced and palms facing up.

Remove your fins and grab your snorkel for 8 x 50 as 25 kick, 25 swim, progressing effort with each 50, up to 8/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) by the fourth 50 and then hold that effort for the remaining 50s. Take 15 seconds rest between each one. Focus on keeping the back of your head, your butt, and your heels on the surface of the water.

Keeping your snorkel on, you’ll now do a 10-minute swim focusing on holding good body position and swimming at 7/10 RPE.

The main set is short and sweet, but be sure to continue focusing on all of the technical work from above. You’ll start with 8 x 25 swimming with snorkel and kick board (no fins), progressing effort from one to four, so that the fourth is fast and then hold that effort for the remaining 25s. You should have a stable torso, stationary head, and, as before, focus on keeping the back of your head, your butt, and your heels on the surface of the water.

Still focusing on good body position and tautness, now swim 8 x 25 fast. Aim to access maximum power and propulsion as quickly as possible. These should be 10/10 RPE with 15 seconds rest after each one.

Drop the effort but maintain the technical focus with a 200 swim at 7/10 RPE on 30 seconds rest. Be mindful of holding good body position.

Wrap it up with a five-minute cool-down if time allows.

One-Hour Workout: Technique and Tautness


10 min. easy swim

Prep. Set

800 as 100 kick/100 swim continuous, using fins and kicking on your back with arms outstretched, thumbs interlaced, palms facing up. Scale this back to 600 or 700 if needed.

8 x 50 as 25 kick/25 swim with snorkel, no fins. Progress effort 1-4, then hold that pace for the remaining 50s. 15 sec. rest between each 50.

Swim 10. min continuously @ 7/10 RPE with snorkel.

Main Set

8 x 25 swim with snorkel and kick board, no fins, progress effort 1-4, making sure the 4th is fast and then hold that pace for swims 5-8.

8 x 25 fast 10/10 RPE on 15 sec. rest. No equipment.

200 @ 7/10 RPE, 30 sec. rest.


5 min. relaxed and easy.

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