Butterfly – Training plan for beginners and amateurs

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 8 May '18 0
You are reading: Butterfly – Training plan for beginners and amateurs

The butterfly is the swim stroke that has evolved most over the last 10 years. Breathing every stroke, “shifting your weight” forwards (also a feature of the breaststroke) and as little forward head movement as possible.

It is the hardest and most difficult stroke for an amateur swimmer, because power and coordination are very important and hard to learn.

The butterfly has two phases: the arm pull up and arm pull down. The movement is symmetrical, breathing is frontwards, and two smooth leg kicks are performed for each arm stroke.

A tip for anybody struggling with the butterfly is to combine a symmetrical butterfly arm stroke with breaststroke legs. This is less tiring but still requires excellent coordination.

Here is a short work out:

WARMUP 300 m


  • 200 m with 25 m backstroke and 25 breaststroke


      • 2×25 butterfly legs only, on your back with your arms along your sides.
    • 2×25 breaststroke arms and butterfly legs making sure your arm stroke is steady and “incorporated” in your breathing pattern


        • 2×25 with one arm extended in front of your body and the other arm performing the butterfly arm stroke with front breathing.
      • 2×25 with one arm along your side and the other extended alongside your head, butterfly leg kick, breathing in sync with your arm stroke. This is a tricky drill in terms of coordination but allows you to “shift” your body weight forwards to facilitate an undulating body movement. 
      • 12×50 (1x 25 butterfly + 25 freestyle and 1x freestyle only)
      • 100 easy

As you can see, the session is divided up as follows: warmup (300), harder swimming (200) plus technique work, main workout (12 550), cooldown (100). Try and keep to this routine if you can.

Do not forget that it is important to stretch before training, particularly when you will be swimming such a tough stroke from a muscular viewpoint.

We are gradually increasing the volume of our training sessions. Well done!


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arena coaches

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