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Anaerobic Vs. Aerobic Swimming Workouts

author image Steven Kelliher
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.
Anaerobic Vs. Aerobic Swimming Workouts
A woman swimming laps in a pool. Photo Credit Mike Watson Images/moodboard/Getty Images

Swimming is a low-impact exercise for your joints, but its impact on your cardiovascular system and muscles depends entirely on the effort you put into your workout. A light or moderate aerobic swimming workout can help you burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness, while an intense anaerobic swimming workout will tax your muscles and improve lactic acid tolerance.

Aerobic Swimming Workouts

Step 1

Swim at a steady pace, around half of your maximum speed, throughout the duration of a 16 x 100-meter workout split evenly into four sets of 4 x 100-meter swims. Rest for 10 to 15 seconds after each 100-meter repetition before starting the next one.

Step 2

Change up your distances and rest periods over a five-set aerobic workout. For the first set, swim 500 meters and then rest for 30 seconds. Follow this with a 400-meter swim and a 30-second rest, a 300-meter swim and a 20-second rest, a 200-meter swim and a 20-second rest and a 100-meter swim.

Step 3

Swim at a light pace for a predetermined period of time if you don't want to split your workout into intervals and rest periods. You can swim anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour as long as you stay within an aerobic heart zone.

Anaerobic Swimming Workouts

Step 1

Perform 50-meter all-out sprints with short rest periods between sets to maximize calorie burn and improve lactic acid tolerance. Do five 50-meter sprints, rest for 20 seconds, then do five 100-meter sprints and rest for one minute.

Step 2

Complete five sets of 3 x 100-meter sprints. The first 100 meters of each set should be done at an easy pace, while the second should be moderate and the third all-out. Take minimal rest between sets.

Step 3

Slow your pace and take a long recovery swim following any all-out anaerobic sprint. Swim for 15 to 20 minutes to clear the lactic acid out of your muscles and gradually reduce your heart rate to normal resting levels.

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