Thursday, April 28, 2016

An Introduction To CSS TWEAKING - The Future Of Distance Swim Training

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CSS training is a great way to improve your swim fitness for any race distance over 400m. It focuses on your fitness around your lactate threshold - developing your ability to sustain a strong pace over a long period of time. In Swim Smooth parlance, we call this "Becoming A Diesel Engine".

Up until now to work out what speed you should be swimming during a CSS session you need to perform the CSS Test, which is training session where you swim a 400m time-trial followed by a 200m time-trial. You put the two times you achieve in the CSS calculator on the Swim Smooth website here or use the more advanced analysis in the Swim Smooth Coaching System here.

These calculators spit out your CSS pace per 100m, which you then program into a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to accurately target during your training sessions.

CSS training works brilliantly but there's a few common problems with the CSS test itself, you might have experienced:

- We recommend you retest every 4 to 6 weeks, however you can make some quite large improvements week by week, meaning your fitness might have moved on without you taking account of it.

- The calculation to find your CSS pace is very sensitive. If you pace your 400 or 200 wrongly and end up with a slower time than you are actually capable of, then the CSS pace can be wrong for you (either too fast or too slow).

- The CSS test itself takes up a valuable training session and since it's only 600m of fast swimming, it has little benefit as a training session in its own right.

That's not ideal but don't worry, there is a solution coming - it's called "CSS Tweaking" and it's the future of training for distance swimming!

CSS Tweaking

Tweaking is a clever Swim Smooth algorithm that adjusts your CSS pace as the weeks and months go by without you having to perform the CSS Test. It's simplicity itself and it's included in version 2 of the Swim Smooth Coaching System which we're launching next week (more on that below).

Say your current CSS pace is 1:50/100m and you swim a great session, swimming the times nicely or even getting slightly ahead of your beeper. In the system just tap the "Bold" button, or if you were really feeling great then use the "Heroic" button! The app will automatically "tweak" your CSS pace by just the right amount for your next session:

(click image to expand)

Conversely, if you were finding things hard, hit the "Off-Day" or "Bad Patch" buttons - tweaking things to be slightly slower for the next swim.

With a little bit of Swim Smooth magic the tweaking algorithm adjusts your pace week by week and session by session to make sure you are always swimming the right speed for your fitness at that exact point in time - genius!

Not Just Tracking But Actually Leading

What's more, because the tweaking process anticipates the small fitness gain you get from a good session, you are actually leading your fitness forwards. These fitness improvements are very small session by session but incrementally they add up over many weeks of training to some very significant improvements.

Get your training right using the tweaking process and over 8 weeks we often see between 4 and 10 seconds per 100m improvement in CSS pace! And of course the new system tracks this for you over time so you can see your progress:

The beauty of CSS training is that it gives you maximum fitness gains for minimum fatigue. Plus because you swim fast but the pace is controlled, it allows you to maintain your stroke technique during the session. Now with the tweaking process you can achieve all this without the potentially confusing results or the interruption to your training of performing the CSS test.

The training effect of CSS tweaking combined with using a Tempo Trainer Pro is way beyond what you can achieve using any other training method or swimming gadget. Even swim-watches, which are great for counting lengths and timing swims, only give you feedback. They don't pro-actively lead you forwards.

The Guru Is Coming

If you're excited by this new Tweaking process (and we hope you are!) this is just one feature we've added into Version 2 of the Swim Smooth Coaching System, which we're launching on May 4th next week:

You might have seen a few snippets on social media about this cuddly character - he's the new face of Version 2 offering you tips and advice from within the system. In fact we're renaming the whole system "The Swim Smooth Guru" :
Guru says: Don't fear training - fast it will make you!

We can't wait to tell you about all the other new features of V2 on next week's blog.

Swim Smooth!

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