Saturday Swim Session: Get Stronger By Using Paddles

Utilising hand paddles can develop the strength of your arms and shoulders in a manner that is specific for swimming. However doing too much work with paddles can be detrimental and create injuries. This session is perfect for Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes or people doing longer Ocean Swims.

Each week I will load three options up for you to do. Option A is for swimmers who are after a workout less than 2,000 metres. Option B is for swimmers who are after a workout between 2,000 and 3,000m and Option C will be greater than 3,000m.

Option A

  • 200m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 5x 150m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 6x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (1,850m)

Option B

  • 400m WU;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 8x 150m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 8x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (2,600m)

Option C

  • 800m WU;
  • 12x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 10x 150m Paddles 20sec RI;
  • 8x 50m ½ T-Time +5sec RI;
  • 200m CD; (3,500m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up (WU) covering 200m (Option A), 400m (Option B) or 800m (Option C). During the warm up feel free to stop and stretch as needed.  It doesn’t need to be a continuous swim.

Next up is a drill set of eight (Options A and B) or twelve repetitions (Option C) of 50m Drill/Swim, where you do a drill for the first 25m of the repetition and then normal swimming for the next 25m swimming. Feel free to use fins whilst doing the drill/swim set.  Do the drills below twice through to make eight reps (Options A and B), or three times through to make twelve reps (Option C):

  1. Kick On Side (KOS) left side 
  2. Kick On Side (KOS) right side 
  3. 6/1/6 
  4. 6/3/6

I wrote an article about swimming drills previously. Click here to read and watch it.

For the main set put on a pair of hand paddles. I recommend that these are only slightly bigger than your hands, so as not to load up your shoulder muscles too much.  Complete a set of five (Option A), eight (Option B) or ten (Option C) reps of 150m. After each rep take a 20 second Rest Interval (RI). One you’ve done this set take the hand paddles off.

The next set involves six (Option A) or eight (Options B and C) reps over 50m sprinting. Each rep is started on half your T-Time plus five seconds.

How much rest you get is determined by how qwikly you swim each rep and what your capability is. Use the T-Time that you have determined previously (follow the link here to find out more).  This is how frequently you do each rep. If your T-Time is 2:10, you will start each rep every 1:10 ((½ x 2:10) + 0:05). If you manage to swim your 50m in 0:55 you will get 15 seconds rest, and if you swim it in 1:10 you will only get 5 seconds rest. This keeps the pressure on and you working hard to maintain your efforts.

For the Cool Down (CD) swim 200m. Unlike the previous sets which have to be freestyle, the cool down (like the warm up) can be any stroke you wish to swim.  You can also stop and rest after any length.  I encourage you to stop and stretch during the cool down.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.

I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi Coaching.

I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at coachray@coachray.nz and 021 348 729.

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If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 12 months ago.

Saturday Swim Session: 100’s and 50’s

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