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One-Hour Workout: Two, Four, Six, Eight Swim Ladder

How far can you make it up the ladder?

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This week’s One-Hour Workout is a swim session that you can tailor to your own swim fitness and speed, choosing to “jump off” the ladder whenever you wish. It’s a 4,000-yard swim in total, so we recognize that there aren’t too many athletes who’ll make it the whole way through in 60 minutes, but it’s fun to see how far you get (and try to get further in subsequent attempts).

There’s no set warm-up here, but you’ll begin the session at a warm-up effort (Rate of Perceived Exertion, RPE 4/10) with two 100s, taking 15-20 seconds rest between each. You’ll then swim a straight 200, again holding a similar RPE. Take 15-20 seconds rest. You’ll then swim four 100s, increasing the effort slightly to RPE 5-6/10, taking 15-20 seconds rest between each, before going into a steady 400, holding RPE 4/10. (Note: You’ll soon see the nature of the pattern here). Next up, it’s six 100s, again on 15-20 seconds rest, but increasing the effort to RPE 6-7/10. Follow this with 600 steady swim, RPE 4-5/10. If you’re still hanging in (and have the time), you’ll progress to eight 100s, on 15-20 seconds rest, RPE 7-8/10. Follow this with a final 800 steady swim, RPE 4-5/10. The final 200 of this should be very easy to act as a cooldown.

This is a great aerobic endurance builder, and the challenge of seeing how far you can get through the ladder is one that often motivates swimmers over both the short term and longer term (i.e., how much improvement can I make over a number of weeks/months?)

It can also be worthwhile to add in some swim gear for the steady 200, 400, 600, or 800 swims, such as paddles or a pull buoy. This article How Should I Use Swim Gear to Improve My Stroke? can help you decide which is best to use—and when.

One-Hour Workout: Two, Four, Six, Eight Swim Ladder

2 x 100 on 15-20 sec. rest @ RPE 4/10

200 @ RPE 4/10

4 x 100 @ 15-20 sec. rest @ RPE 5-6/10

400 @ RPE 4/10

6 x 100 @ 15-20 sec. rest @ RPE 6-7/10

600 @ RPE 4-5/10

8 x 100 @ 15-20 sec. rest @ RPE 7-8/10

800 @ RPE 4-5/10