Set Your Workout Base

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Set Your Workout Base

Set Your Workout Base

Set Your Swim Workout BaseAs I write weekly workouts for Kiefer, I find myself growing frustrated that all I can give you is rest based sets. To get the most out of your workouts, setting an interval base is the way to go. Even if you are not using my workouts this can be beneficial to your training.

It’s not as hard, scary or intimidating as you may think, so let’s set up a few scenarios to find something that will work for everyone.

First, we all need to hop in the water and do a timed swim. The distance you choose should be based on your age and fitness level. For example, is you are like me and swim multiple times a week for over an hour and average over 3000 yards or meters per workout, you want to do a timed 1,500 yard swim or more.

There is a minimum here of 500 yards regardless of your age or ability. The shorter your timed swim is the less accurate your base interval will be. It is easier to swim faster over shorter distances, of course!

Divide and conquer: for simplicities sake, let’s say you did a timed 1,500 yard swim and it took you 15 minutes. That would make your interval base 1:00 per 100. For a little sample of what we can do with this, here is a small heart rate set.

8 x 100’s Freestyle
2 x 100’s @ interval base +10 (1:10)
2 x 100’s @ interval base +5 (1:05)
2 x 100’s @ interval base (1:00)
2 x 100’s @ interval base -5 (:55)

I hope you can see the difference in quality this kind of information can foster in your workouts vs the generic :10 second rest intervals.

Choose your timed distance, give it your best effort, and divide your final time by the number of 100’s you swam. A 1,500 yard swim would be your time divided by 15, and a timed 1,000 yard swim would mean your time divided by 10 to get an interval base.

I’m encouraging everyone to try this over the next month. You will see me start to integrate actual intervals into my workouts. This doesn’t mean I will forego any rest based sets, they will still be there. Helping you achieve your goals is my goal, and this is one way to make significant gains.

Keep swimming!

About Emily Milak

Emily Milak is a lifetime competitive swimmer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. Emily is a US National Team champion, NCAA champion, and USMS champion with extensive coaching experience. She is a product development consultant at Kiefer.

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I've been a swimmer my whole life. My parents started me with lessons as a three-year-old and by five, I had joined my first team. I started swimming year-round at eight and by thirteen, I was qualified for Junior Nationals. By fifteen, I was a member of the US National Junior Team (National 'B' Team) and a Senior National Qualifier. I attended my first Olympic Trials in 2000 and finished third in the 200 butterfly. I am a US National Champion, three-time NCAA Champion, NCAA record holder, and was a member of the US National 'A' Team for five years. I've competed in two World Championships, two Duel in the Pools, a Pan Pacific Championship where I earned a bronze medal in the 200 fly, and competitor in the Goodwill Games. I love to swim and love to coach. I have been working with 12 & Unders for the past ten years including a lengthy stint as the head age group coach in Houston, TX with the toughest bunch of little swimmers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Now I am a mom who swims! I substitute coach and swim master's. I have only competed at one Master's Nationals, but walked away a two-time champion.

5 Comments
  • […] workout? View our swim workout terminology sheet for definitions. Don’t have a base set yet? Check out this post on how to get started […]

  • Emily Milak says:

    Hi Judy! You are not slow, you are incredible for your perseverance and being in the water. I do believe this can help anyone interested in getting faster, if you swim a mile in 40 minutes where is your heart rate? You may want to attempt a ‘fast’ 500 to set your base vs the roughly 2:30ish per 100 base you would have from a 40 minute mile. The idea here is challenging your aerobic base more specifically to help you train your heart and body.

  • dougclind says:

    I guess your advice is for competitive swimmers because I have no idea what an interval or rest base is or what all the numbers mean, much less what to do with them. I swim for general fitness (I’m 68) and right now I’m doing 1.2’s two times/week. I’d like to make that 3 or 4 times/week but the pool is a 35 minute drive. I can’t do flip turns, every time I try I nearly drown. So I’ve never swum competitively or had a coach. My 1.2 mile time today was 54:20 so slow old Judy looks fast to me. 🙂 The fastest I ever did a 500 was 9:45 but then I swim the Trudgeon stroke for freestyle and don’t do any other stroke. I’d like to improve my swimming. It gives you something to work for, plus maybe it’ll impress the grand kids … well, probably not. But any improvement would be nice, if I knew what to improve. Workout suggestions geared to geezers (like me!) would be great. 🙂

    • Emily Milak says:

      Doug anyone can make use of the rest or base intervals. Casual lap swimmers included! If our short workouts are too hefty to shoulder cut everything in half and you will almost always be at one mile. Typical short workouts are 2 and the longer ones 3 to 3.5 miles. When you see numbers sandwiched like this ‘@ :10 rest’ that means whatever distance you are repeating take 10 seconds rest between them. Hope that helps, and your grandkids should be impressed!

  • jnursester says:

    Hi it’s slow old Judy again. Since it currently takes me 40 minutes to swim one mile, and I do usually 1.5 miles to 1.75 miles every time I swim, would this help me? there are no coaches, master’s swimming programs or adult teams where I live (Lubbock, TX). My goal is to improve my cardio fitness for martial arts and be able to do 2 miles in an hour or less.

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