Sub-1hr session: Swim pyramids

Get ready to push yourself to your absolute limit with this lung-busting swim workout for advanced athletes that promises to boost both fitness and speed in 60mins

Triathlete in swim training

Looking to build your swim speed and fitness? This lung-busting workout for advanced athletes promises to push you to your absolute limit.


For this session you’ll need a swimsuit or trunks, hat, goggles, water bottle, and a stopwatch or pace clock.

Try to avoid long or hard runs or rides the day before as this can often impact performance in the pool. Although it’s a high-intensity swim workout, you should be good to hit harder rides or runs the following day should you wish.


1 x 200m, 1 x 100m; 2 x 150m, 2 x 75m; 3 x 100m, 3 x 50m; 4 x 50m, 4 x 25m. Take 15secs rest interval (RI) between each. Progress effort to 85%.

Main session

8 x 50m, 15secs RI; 50m easy swim, 4 x 100m, 20secs RI, 50m easy swim; 2 x 200m, 30secs RI, 50m easy swim. 1 x 400m best effort. All at 90% – max effort.


200m easy swim.

Performance benefits

This workout builds speed and fitness that’ll reward you richly on race day. The fast 50m and 100m intervals are great for practising the take-out speed that’s needed at the start of a race. Equally, being able to hold high effort for the 200m and 400m reps is highly valuable for your speed, fitness and confidence.

Mental benefits

Come prepared with a positive mental attitude and some coping strategies in place for when the going gets tough.

Physiological benefits

This is a nasty session! You’ll be working at or near max intensity for the entire main set, but this is exactly the workout you need to boost top-end speed and anaerobic fitness. The fatigue will accumulate fast so you need to find a rhythm and hold it. Remember, record your times so that you can perform this set again and note improvements.

Adapt for Ironman

Go back down the pyramid – 2 x 200m, 4 x 100m, 8 x 50m, but be sure to rest and hang tough. Only do this if you’re well rested.

(Main image: Jonny Gawler)


For lots more swim sessions head to our Training section