Understanding your Swim workouts

If you want to crush your next (or first) triathlon, Wahoo Fitness triathlon training plans are the most effective way to make a transition to a stronger, faster, tougher you (see what we did there). Because the running sessions don't have corresponding videos in the app, we've created a text description of each workout for you.  

For instructions on how to figure out your swim pace, see Swim RPE, STP.

Each workout is broken up into 4 Parts:  

  • Warm-Up
  • Activation and Drills
  • Main Efforts
  • Extra Volume
  • Cool Down



A proper warm-up is essential to help get your body ready for the work ahead, prevent injury and help you get the most out of your running sessions. This is an easy to moderate effort designed to gradually increase your heart rate, warm your muscles, lubricate your joints, and prepare your body for the harder efforts to follow.


Activation and Drills

Swim drills may exist in your swim workout warmup, or as a technique-focused session of its own. Just like cycling and running workouts, swim drills come after a short interval of warm-up swimming and act as further activation or an extension of your warmup. Some drills are designed to teach a specific skill or component of the stroke, while others help teach you "feel for the water" or awareness of how your body is moving through the water, and how to make adjustments based on what you sense and feel. Drills also help activate the neuromuscular system, the large muscles that are responsible for producing power and the muscles that stabilize the shoulders, trunk and hips so the entire body is ready for the higher intensity intervals yet to come.


Main Efforts

This is the primary workout. The main effort description will include:

Number of Sets - The number of times you go through a full “set” of intervals.  Not all workouts contain multiple sets. There will always be recovery between sets.

Rest Between Sets - This describes the recovery that should be done between completed Sets.  If a workout has only a single set, then you will see “N/A” here.

Interval Distance or Duration per Set - The number of times you repeat an interval to complete 1 Set. Some Sets contain a single Interval, while other Sets can contain more than 6.  

Interval - This describes each segment that makes up an interval.  Sometimes there is a single segment for the interval, sometimes there are multiple segments for an interval.  To complete a single set, you simply repeat the Interval Segments


Extra Volume

This is more commonly seen in cycling workouts, though you will sometimes be asked to complete extra volume in a swim session. For example, you may be asked to do a set of drills or strides both for activation before the main set, as well as after the main set to reinforce technique and muscle firing patterns. 


Cool Down

This describes the running that should be done after all sets and extra volume (if applicable) are completed.  A proper cool down is a must, especially for some of the harder sessions. Don't neglect this part of the workout! 


Duration and Intensity

Each section of the workout is divided into a number of segments of specific duration and intensity. The description of each workout “segment” will include the following information:

Duration- The length of time you'll spend in each interval.

Target RPE- The recommended Perceived exertion, or how hard you FEEL like you're working.


Target Pace (expressed as a % of your Swim Threshold Pace )

sTP is based on the pace you could theoretically maintain for 1000m of continuous effort. We do not provide heart rate zones for swimming because it simply isn't practical, so your training zones are based on pace or velocity per 100m. After completing the 50/500m swim test, you'll be able to calculate your pace zones for training in the same seven zones as running and cycling; i.e. active recovery, endurance, tempo, threshold, MAP, anaerobic capacity, and sprint/NM.

Target Heart Rate (expressed as a % of your LTHR as determined by your 5k pace test).

RTHR- the average heart rate you would have while holding a steady training effort for an hour.

For example, most runs will begin with a warmup of 10-minutes at an easy effort. So it would have an RPE of 2, target pace of 145% of your RTP, and target Heart Rate that is less than 70% of your RTHR and would be written as:

10 minutes @ RPE 2 -- 145% of RTP --HR < 70%

Average Best  - pace the effort so you can maintain the same speed for the final interval, but hit near limit in the final interval.


Here is what the description for a complete Swimming Workout might look like:


200m stroke of your choice @RPE2


Activation 1

Number of Sets: 2 

Interval Distance:  50m kick

Rest Between Sets: 10s


Activation 2

Number of sets:  2

Interval Distance: 50m build (RPE 5-7)

Rest between sets:  40s


Main Effort

Complete 2 of the following:

100m starting at RPE5 and increasing to RPE 9 over the entire distance

Recovery: 1-minute rest

100m at RPE9

Recovery 1-minute rest

100m starting at RPE 7 and increasing to RPE 9 over the entire distance

Recovery 1-minute rest


Extra Volume



Cool Down

2 x 100m stroke of your choice @ RPE<2




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