Routine Workout Ideas and Thoughts

Today I wanted to follow-up on my Facebook Live Post I did on routine workouts.

Here are some of my favourite routine workout ideas for team.

  • 1/2 lap rewinds- when they finish a 1/2 lap rewind to the start of the section they just finished then push play. That is their rest.
  • Lap by lap rewinds- do lap one and rewind for the whole lap as rest or just 20 seconds then they swim lap 2.
  • Odd/evens- They swim lap 1 & 3 and get to rest for lap 2 & 4. Then right away they swim the even laps and rest for the odd laps.
  • Arms only- they do anything they get to breath for.
  • Legs only- they do everything they get no breath on including highlights.
  • Add on- Lap 1, rest, lap 1 & 2, rest, Lap 1,2 &3, rest and so on
  • Reverse add on- Lap 3, rest, Lap 2 &3, rest, Lap 1, 2 & 3.
  • Lap then sprint back and restart the lap
  • Patterns only
  • 1/3 add on’s
  • Lap by lap, then halves, then whole swim & repeat the entire set.
  • Lap or however big section you choose followed by their worst element.
  • Weight belt laps, 1/2’s or wholes (if they are old enough)

Considerations for Routine Workouts

1. The age of your swimmers

Training large amounts of volume will not increase the fitness level of younger athletes. Their bodies do not have the ability to improve that way. However, whole swims and workouts may be used for other purposes such as training concentration. Remember with younger swimmers you need to keep it fun or they will leave. Weights are never okay for young swimmers. Check out this blog post on Using Weights at your Practice. 

2. Proper warm-up

Never have them do cold turkey swims. You are increasing the chance of injury. Warm-up the muscles, the lungs and anything that is technically key to the success of the routine. It could even be key pattern changes or synchronization. Perhaps the team needs to do a land drill before starting.

3. Periodization

What phase of training are you in? You do not want to train swimmers too hard in easy weeks. In hard training phases you need to balance intensity and volume. It is not reasonable to expect high volume swimming and high intensity at the same time over a prolonged session. At some point the swimmers will start to lose height, sharpness maybe synchronization. The point of these workouts is to train them to be mentally tough to get through their routine so at competition they know they can compete no matter what. If you want to train intensity then lower the volume. If you want the volume expect the intensity to drop. Having said that the EFFORT should not drop.

Intensity may drop in a hard training session, but effort should never drop. Click to Tweet

4. Using Video

Don’t video volume sessions. I would ask you to think about not using video when there is a chance the team may not look so good. It can be discouraging for the team to be trying so hard, but they don’t look good. You can still correct them, but give them corrections that ensure their success.

What are you favourite synchro routine workouts? Let me know. I love learning new ideas.


Yours in synchro,


  1. Alva on April 18, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    I love to make the Add on lap, they know they will swim thru at one moment

  2. Gustavo on January 14, 2023 at 12:50 AM

    Hi, how would you make a 6/7 months cycle?
    Like: X weeks of volume, Y weeks of strength workouts, Z weeks of tapering… what’s the best option in your opinion?

    • Vanessa Keenan on February 1, 2023 at 5:26 PM

      I like doing a 4 week cycle that builds for 3 weeks and then week 4 is the taper. I would do this through the 6/7 months. Each 4 week cycle gets harder assuming that it the major event you are training for. As for volume, I think that really depends on the fitness of the group and how hard your routines are. You either go higher volume or higher intensity. Both at the same time is hard on the athletes.

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