H2O Work/Rest Ratios 'Splained

Work/Rest Ratio is a way of determining an interval for a specific repeat distance. Say the coach says, “this is an 8 minute set of fast 50s on a 1 to 1 work/rest interval”. It would be written as:

  • 9 minutes of fast 50s on 1:1 W/R Int

1:1 W/R Interval means the rest period between swims should be roughly the same length as the work period. For instance, if each swim takes about 34 seconds, a 1:10 interval allows 36 seconds rest - roughly a 1:1 ratio. If your average swim time is 32, then 1:05 would be a more appropriate interval. If in doubt, choose the interval that gives slightly less rest.

A 1:½ W/R Interval means that the rest period should be roughly ½ of the work period (ex. 30-second swims on a 45-second interval provide about half as much rest as work.

A 1:2 W/R Interval means that the rest period should be roughly twice as long as the work period (ex. 30-second swims on a 1:30 interval provide roughly twice as much rest as work.

Where the work/rest ratio specified allows sufficient time, doing easy swimming, drilling or cavorting is a much better way to recover that just standing still or just flappin' yer gums.

Other common W/R ratios include 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5.

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