Phelps' Pool Workout
Olympic accomplishments aside, the most interesting thing about Phelps may be his training, if only because it’s so standard. “the thing that makes michael great is not that he’s had some specialized program, but rather that he is a good fit for what we do here,” says Bob Bowman, who has been Phelps’ coach since day one. “Honestly, michael does the north Baltimore aquatic club training program—it’s just 8x400s. there are maybe five to seven people doing his same workout.”
The Phelps difference? Volume and intensity. “[What made Michael’s training different was] the way we individualized it,” Bowman explains. “i’ll give him specific times with a specific amount of rest between those, and they’ll be done in a certain way. it’s not like Michael does 6x400s and everyone else does 9x300s—it gets too disjointed that way.”
At his training peak, Phelps was swimming an almost unbelievable amount—80,000 meters every week. He’d train two-a-days three times a week, and once every other day. and any time he wasn’t in the pool, he was recovering—“ice baths, stretching, working with a trainer, or getting massages. and I [slept] in a chamber at 9,000 feet,” Phelps says.
What sets the most decorated olympian of all time apart from his peers is his build— a 6'7" wingspan on a 6'4" body propels him through the water with more force than most men his height, while his unusually long torso furthers his reach. His hands and feet are enormous for a man his size, allowing him to move more water with each stroke, and his short, stocky legs give him a stronger kick with less drag. Double-jointed ankles and elbows don’t hurt, either.
What does it add up to? a stone-cold winner. While we can’t guarantee you’ll be as fast as Phelps, you certainly can train like him. His pool workout is below.
“The one workout that he would probably hate the most, that I love the most, is called the 'Janet Evans’ set,” says Bowman. “[The former olympic swimmer] used to do it when she was younger, and it’s a mix of freestyle and individual medley [IM] swimming. It’s 4,000 meters long, lasts almost an hour, and mixes speed and endurance."
- 1 x 200 free 2:20
- 4 x 200 IM 2:30
- 1 x 400 free 4:40
- 3 x 200 IM 2:25
- 1 x 600 free 7:00
- 2x 200 IM 2:20
- 1 x 800 free 9:20
- 1 x 200 IM 2:15