Friday, April 3, 2015

The Optimal Three Swim Sessions A Week

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If you're a triathlete or open water swimmer in the northern hemisphere then the race season is fast approaching. Hopefully your motivation is high and you are swim training regularly and consistently!

One thing we always recommend to swimmers if you're looking to take big strides forward is to swim consistently three times a week. The jump up from swimming twice to three times a week is significant both in terms of your skills development, fitness and technique.

But what should you do in those sessions for maximum benefit to your swimming? A cornerstone of Swim Smooth's coaching philosophy is that you need a balanced approach split between three key areas of your swimming:

- Your Stroke Technique (e.g. improving body position, alignment, catch and pull technique, stroke rhythm)

- Your Swim Specific Fitness (with an emphasis on distance swimming sets)

- Your Open Water Skills (e.g. drafting, sighting, swimming straight, open water confidence)

So important are each of these areas that we call them "The Three Keys". A classic mistake that swimmers make is to concentrate on just one of the keys, perhaps thinking "It's all about technique" or "I just need the hard-yards".

The thing is that each key offers you similar time gains, so if you're looking to take 3 minutes off your 1500m time, the best way to do it is to gain 1 minute from stroke technique, 1 minute from swim fitness and 1 minute from your open water skills:



Approach swimming in this way and you could end up taking more than 1 minute from each area - and that's when you get some seriously big improvements!

So our classic weekly structure is:

Weekly Session 1: Stroke Technique



Unless you know very specifically what you need to work on in your individual stroke, this should focus on all areas of your stroke technique. As the weeks go by make sure you include a focus on the following areas:

- Your exhalation technique into the water
- The symmetry of your stroke (ideally from breathing to both sides)
- The alignment of your stroke particularly how the hand extends forwards in front of the head
- Your kicking technique
- Your catch technique
- Your stroke rhythm

Make sure you include some steady paced longer swims during the session (e.g. 300 to 800m) where you maintain your stroke technique over a distance.

See technique sessions in the SS Coaching System here: app.swimsmooth.com/sequence/ks/pure-technique-sessions/

And fault-fixers here: app.swimsmooth.com/section/bX/dY/fault-fixers/


Weekly Session 2: CSS Training Session





CSS training sets are the perfect fitness training set for distance swimming as they target your aerobic fitness - i.e. your ability to sustain a strong pace for a long time. In comparison to traditional masters swim sets you might swim further at a slightly slower pace (only slightly) but with much reduced recovery times between swims. These are challenging sets but include one a week and you'll see the benefit as your times drop week on week.

More information on the Swim Smooth website here: www.swimsmooth.com/css

And in the SS Coaching System: app.swimsmooth.com/sequence/tc/css-sessions/


Weekly Session 3: Open Water Skills


Get together with a few friends and practise your sighting, drafting and swimming straight. This can get pretty competitive when you're swimming head to head with other swimmers so it's the perfect way to include a little sprint training in your week.

Remember this can be done just as well in your own lane in the pool as the open water so you don't have to wait for the lake or ocean to warm up - you can start right away!


Some session ideas here: www.feelforthewater.com/2013/04/too-cold-to-train-in-open-water-no.html

Our full guide and sessions in the SS Coaching System: app.swimsmooth.com/section/b8/ctZ/sessions/


More Or Less Time To Train?

If you can only swim twice per week then we recommend you rotate through these sessions in turn. So Technique / CSS in week 1, Open Water / Technique in week 2, CSS / Open Water in week 3 etc.

And if you swim four times? Consider adding in a challenging Red Mist or Pink Mist session to build some really deep fitness (and mental toughness)!

Above all else, remember that consistency is key. Keep your training rolling week-in and week-out and you will get the improvements you deserve.


Full Swim Smooth Training Plans

If that all feels like a lot to remember then you need to sign up for the Swim Smooth Coaching System, it includes extensive Swim Smooth training plans for every race distance from Sprint Triathlon to Ironman and marathon swimming. We've done all the thinking for you to get this balance right, simply follow the sessions and reach your goals! : app.swimsmooth.com/section/bW/training/

Or if you prefer old school paper then check out our waterproof training plans to take poolside: www.swimsmooth.com/trainingplans.html

Swim Smooth!

3 comments:

Michôł said...

Your app/plans/sessions are great, I'm using them and as for now they work for me. But sometimes my time on swimming pool is 40-45 minutes and I'm not really sure how to fit a session then? Should I split it into two separate sessions (well, how to do it then?) or cut drills/repetitions (so e.g. instead of 3x100m of broken arrow drill do 3x50m or 1x150m). Or maybe shorten some parts (like warmups or main set)? Thanks!

Adam Young said...

Hi Michol, yes you've got to get in and on with it, no messing about! Reduce the warmup a little but try and get the whole main set in if you can - that's got to be your priority.

Hope that helps,

Adam

Michôł said...

Thank you Adam, I'll try that solution.