What is the real key to training? Making the most of your leg work!

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 30 January '16 0
You are reading: What is the real key to training? Making the most of your leg work!

As you will have seen in our previous articles, leg work is a vital part of training.

Competitive swimmers vary the amount of leg work they do according to the training period. For example, if we look at the first part of the season (winter macrocycle) lasting 12-16 weeks, the percentage of the overall training volume devoted to the legs varies

over that period:

  • first four weeks (returning to training): approximately 60-80% of overall training volume
  • eight-ten weeks (general/special): approximately 25-40% of total training volume
  • two-three weeks (specific): approximately 15-20% of overall training volume

Leg work can be included in training at any time, obviously with different aims in mind.

As part of your “warmup”:

  • generally 300-400 m swimming 25 fs/25 legs favourite style/25 how you like

As part of preparation for a “legs set” in order to check the position of your body and “core”:

  • 3 sets X
    25 butterfly legs on back, 15” rec.
    50 any style, 20” rec.
    25 fast legs, 15” rec.

As main training focusing on your rhythm and pace:

  • 6×50 fastest pace possible, 20” rec. or 10×25 sprint in 60” or 2×100 flat out with full recovery

As part of a “swim set”:

  • 200 medley with 20” rest
    8×25 (1x fast legs 1x full sprint) 15” rec.

There is no limit to the amount of leg work you can include in your training, let your imagination run wild. There are all kinds of drills you can perform, even some with tools you wouldn’t usually use for this kind of session.

1. Legs with drag resistance. Try swimming a set with a bucket dragging behind you or, better still, a “swimming pool parachute”: 12×25 (8x legs 4x full stroke) all flat out with a full recovery.

2. Developing leg strength with a board. Swim leg sets of 4-8 x 25 m with fins and a board in a vertical position, slightly underwater, to create a drag. Alternate 1 x 25 m flat out with 1×25 m recovery. Try combining this set with 25 m sets flat out using a full swim stroke with fins and a board.

3. Correcting your head position. Swim 25 m (or 50 m) leg sets with a snorkel, controlling both your head position and swimming pace.

4. Legs in a vertical position. Use this session to improve not only the strength but also the fluidity of your leg kick. Begin with sets of 20” + 20” recovery, gradually increasing the length of each set and reducing the recovery time.

Last but not least, you can use leg work as part of your final warm-down. It is important to remember that your legs are your biggest muscle group. Swimmers generally use their warm-down to lower their heart rates or loosen up after a tough session. Specific leg work during your final warm-down will help you “flush out” the lactic acid from that particular part of your body.


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arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.