Coach Ray

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Saturday Swim Session: Michael Phelps’ Favourite HARD Workout

I’ve come up with these workouts from watching a Facebook Live video from Michael Phelps where he answers the question about his favourite workout. This is NOT Michael Phelps’ favourite workout which is in fact easy swimming, but this workout is based on his favourite HARD set. I’ve given the Option C as the full set and Option B I have cut out some of it and for Option A reduced the number of reps. But they are all based on his favourite hard set.

Follow Michael Phelps’ on Facebook by clicking here.

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

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 2 x 50;
  • 2 x 100;
  • 2 x 150;
  • 2 x 200;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,000m)

Option B

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4 x 50;
  • 4 x 100;
  • 4 x 150;
  • 4 x 200;
  • 200m Cool Down (2,800m)

Option C

  • 400m Warm Up;
  • 8x 50m (25m Drill/25m Swim);
  • 4 x 25 10sec RI;
  • 4 x 50 10sec RI;
  • 4 x 75 10sec RI;
  • 4 x 100 15sec RI;
  • 4 x 125 15sec RI;
  • 4 x 150 20sec RI;
  • 4 x 175 20sec RI;
  • 4 x 200 30sec RI;
  • 200m Cool Down (4,600m)

Start the workout with a Warm Up covering 400m. 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 set of eight reps 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:

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

Take your fins off for the next set.

Michael Phelps’ favourite hard set is a progression of distance from 25m through to 200m, progressing 25m in distance after each four reps. So four reps of 25m, then four reps of 50m, four reps of 75m, four reps of 100m, four reps of 125m, four reps of 150m, four reps of 150m, four reps of 175m and finishing with four reps of 200m.

Tri Training NZ

For Option C I have scheduled four reps at each distance as you work through the set, with ten seconds Rest Interval (RI) between reps of 25m, 50m and 75m; 15 seconds Rest Interval (RI) between reps that are 100m and 125m long; 20 seconds Rest Interval (RI) between reps that are 150m and 175m long; and 30 seconds Rest Interval (RI) between the 200m reps.

For Option B I’ve removed the 25m, 75m, 125m and 175m reps from the set. Complete four reps of 50m, 100m, 150m and 200m with 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds and 30 seconds between the reps respectively.

For Option A, I’ve reduced Option B a little bit more, but reducing the number of reps to two of each distance and kept the Rest Interval (RI) the same.

All three workouts have a 200m cool down. Feel free to pause and stretch when needed and /or include stretching as part of each break until the distance is covered.

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 and 021 348 729.

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If you enjoyed this workout, here is a similar session I published 6 months ago.

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Ray has competed in triathlons from sprint to ironman distance (both IM Taupo and Challenge Wanaka). Consequently he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complimenting other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments etc…). • Entering your first triathlon? • Stepping up to a longer distance? • Looking to go faster? • Wanting to turn previous negatives into positives? Ray has coached athletes to achieve these and more. Training programmes are accessible online, so athletes can be located anywhere and still reap the benefits of Ray’s coaching. Contact him to discuss how he can assist you to achieve your goals.
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