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Winter Break Practices

Increased volume = Increased energy use = Increased calorie intake!

Body weight should NOT drop more than 3 pounds during an intense period of training in-season. Most large training load increases in-season come in 2 or 3 week periods, and the benefits can be numerous, BUT… Losing weight quickly in-season does NOT equate to being in better shape (necessarily…) – faster swimming equates to being in better shape at this time! Losing muscle to provide energy for practice is not the path to increased recovery and faster swimming, and the idea that you need to “break down” to build back up has serious limits.

If your practices are coming close to or going beyond double your normal volume, an additional 1000 calories per day may be in order. Your body weight and recovery status will determine this need. 1000 calorie examples: 2 large protein shakes OR 4 snickers bars OR 1 Chipotle burrito.

If you lose 3+ pounds (in a 2 to 3 week period), add an additional 500 calories per practice.

If you lose 6+ pounds, add an additional 100 calories per practice.

And, as you should be doing throughout the season… drink Gatorade (or something like it) at any practice over 1 hour, and be sure to drink something (chocolate milk or a protein shake) or at the very least eat something with both carbs and protein within one hour post-practice. The first hour after practice you should try to get in somewhere between 400 and 800 calories – again coming mainly from carbs and protein.

Good luck in your training, and remember the take home message here: During intense in-season training losing weight does not equate to better shape, faster swimming equates to better shape! Improved recovery doesn’t have to be a complicated effort, just a consistent effort!

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Administering Test Sets

Let’s administer test sets while maintaining yardage goals. Work in as you see fit but try to complete during the week.

The test sets are to establish repeat pace per 100’s on all strokes to help the swimmer and coach adjust send offs for the Holiday training demands.

The following warm up is a great set pattern for swimmers to learn and complete at meets. Adjust at meets based on time and warm up facilities offered.

Warm up:
600 choice swim

6 x 100 choice 50 kick / 50 swim :10rest
then stretch based on time allowed no longer than 5 minutes

6 x 75 choice :10rest with heart rate about +/-20 at a minimum, check twice
adjust heart rate based on age and level of fitness
1-3 kick / swim / kick by 25, 4-6 swim / kick / swim by 25

6 x 50 choice swim – raise heart rate, check heart rate and then :15rest
1-3 heart rate +/-25, 4 easy swim, 5-6 heart rate +/-30

100 easy

2 x 25 sprint (work in starts at meet)

75 easy after each

Total warm up yardage = 2,250

Some swimmers need more and some less based on your demands for the day and learning to read your body. Don’t do less just because. Remember to simulate practices where you have great sprint swims at the end with 5,000 or more yards to warm up……….

Don’t let more than 5-7 minutes elapse before starting test sets. This would also be the ideal time period between warm up and your events at meets.

Do the below set for all strokes except butterfly unless you or your swimmer is the exception. Most swimmers are too weak mechanically to complete this set fly. The fasterswimming work outs are designed to train fly at race pace mainly alternating upper and lower body while focusing on timing and mechanics.

Goals for set:
You need to be able to repeat your pace with your heart rate +/- 25 (this is for the national level swimmer, please adjust accordingly). Check your heart rate only a few times at the beginning of the set to establish speed. Your initial rest will be :05 seconds between swims developing a send off with the same amount of rest. Adjust send offs either faster or slower as needed. This should not be at a comfortable pace but on the challenging side with heart rate appropriate while holding pace thru set. Read set and start with a goal pace in mind.

Record your results (pace per 100) and use for setting send offs for the upcoming weeks.

4 x 100 start setting pace and establishing heart rate

8 x 25 this will be the easiest part, use to establish heart rate

6 x 50

4 x 100

2 x 200

recovery swim of 6 x 75 on +/- 1:15

set yardage = 2,150 for each stroke

Total yardage not including the set fly = 8,700

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Thoughts on Training

OK… No nonsense here – just some thoughts on training pertaining to what I’ve been reading lately and how I train my teams (swimming, track, and many others). No particular order, but the pieces do fit:

A. Training regularly, systematically, and progressively are keys to obtaining the desired goals of training (better competitive performances!!).

B. The real effectiveness of training depends to a large extent on the quality of distances covered (or movements performed) at high velocities.

C. Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results.

D. Double practices can benefit several fitness factors, and optimal recovery is required to reap these benefits.

E. Train as hard as possible, as often as possible, while staying as “fresh” as possible.

F. You must develop neuromuscular capacity to improve maximal speed; maximal speed being an important predictor of both sprint AND endurance performances.

G. Greater speed depends on greater force production, quicker force production, and improved stability and coordination. These attributes are not developed in a day or a week, but over the course of seasons and years.

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Workout Nutrition

WHEN you eat can be as important as WHAT you eat regarding workout nutrition. There are an endless array of supplements and wonder-foods available, many promising a great return if you simply purchase their product. Well, there are some supplements that could help with workouts and recovery, but they are just that – supplements to a regular diet and exercise program. Get your regular diet and eating habits in order first, and then you’ll be able to tell which supplements really seem to help you out.

So how do you go about getting your eating habits in order? Start with the things that matter the most, of course. We will detail this in a future newsletter, but the bullet points:

  • Eat breakfast everyday
  • Eat a complete protein with each regular meal
  • Eat every two to three hours
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Drink mainly non-caloric beverages

Before you start counting every gram and half-gram of fat in your diet, get these basics in order. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can not only stop cravings, but leave you felling less hungry during the day, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve recovery from training. Get this in order first.

This all leads us to the title of this article – workout nutrition. Besides (or possibly including) breakfast, timing nutrient intake around your training is the most important aspect of recovery. Multiple studies have shown far higher recovery rates (in some studies as much as 300%!) for those consuming a pre- and post- workout drink containing both carbohydrates and protein opposed to those consuming only water around the workout window. We will define this workout window as 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes post-workout, and this nutrition should come in the form of liquid and contain little to no fat for ease of assimilation. There are many drinks that address this issue (Endurox, Surge, etc.) and fit this bill – but there is an easy choice in your local grocery – – chocolate skim milk. An easy to find, relatively cheap way to increase your recovery from hard training. Add a small bottle to your workout bag and sip some about 30 minutes prior to your workout, and finish the bottle within 30 minutes post-workout. This bottle would of course be in addition to your water bottle (or Gatorade, etc) – because we want to cover basic hydration as well.

If you aren’t already doing so, try incorporating workout nutrition as detailed in your training program and start recovering faster. Find which workout-window drink works best for you (chocolate milk is an easy starting point…) and follow the bullet points above to get your eating habits (and timing) in order. Improved recovery doesn’t have to be a complicated effort, just a consistent effort!

  • by John Coffman,
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Fitness and Fatigue

When training to compete we increase our fitness by recovering from our training. There are several models to describe training and it’s after effects, the most popular and recognized of which is the single-factor model. The single-factor model proposes that training is the stimulus for super-compensation, and that repeated bouts of gradually increasing intensity result in gradually increased fitness. Basically: train, recover to a higher level, train again, recover to yet a higher level, etc, etc. This model, however, does not take into full account the factor of fatigue.

The two-factor model of training takes fatigue into full account. The two-factor model proposes both a long-term fitness after-effect from training, leading to specific fitness (aerobic, anaerobic, etc.); and a short-term fatigue after-effect, leading to specific (aerobic, anaerobic, etc.) fatigue. Throughout much of our training, fatigue masks fitness. A high work load in training, especially in a concentrated block or multi-sport training, can cause a much more pronounced fatigued state. The athlete themselves may have an exceptional level of fitness, but performances can suffer or become stale if fatigue is not taken into account and managed. The ONE time of the year fatigue should not mask fitness is during a peaking phase (otherwise known as tapering).

There is a lot more to all of this – but the take-home message is to be aware that your training produces both fitness and fatigue, and that fatigue can mask your actual fitness level much of the time. So how much fatigue is too much? Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) can tell you a lot. After a couple of off days from training, simply take your heart rate as soon as you wake up. Don’t go to the bathroom first or take your HR after breakfast – measure your HR as soon as you wake, while still in bed. This will give you a base-line measure. If during the training week your RHR differs upward from your base-line RHR more than 6-8 beats per minute, take it easy that day. You can still train in this state, but a recovery-type of training day may be in order. If your RHR differs upward more than 9-10 beats per minute, a day off is probably in order. Anything under 6 beats difference and you should be good to go. I say “should” and “may” because every athlete’s response to training and ability to recover is different.

These are some general guidelines for you to track your recovery and monitor your fatigue, and if you stay on top of your recovery, your true fitness level will be accessible when you need it!

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Tapering is a great experience but only a tool to enhance optimum performance. Swimmers must take into consideration all the factors that will be mentioned in this article. Tapering isn’t the magic pill to faster swimming but one of the factors to faster swimming.

Once you have established your aerobic capacity and finished your maximum yardage phase of training you must trust that you have done enough. Lower your yardage and begin the taper phase that develops power and speed as outlined in the 7 week taper program.

I understand the fear of not lowering your yardage but trust me you can and it works. You can rest a lot longer than you think as long as you stick to the program. You will continue to keep your heart rate elevated during taper which maintains your aerobic capacity.

You will have more energy as the taper progresses. Remember that during a taper you must maintain quality swimming at race pace with enough recovery swimming. Tapering doesn’t mean easy swimming but quite the opposite as you are fine tuning speed and power.

You must believe and not doubt your ability since you are practicing at race pace. Your body is developing muscle memory at your desired speed. You are doing the work so have confidence and get ready to race.

Lifting during taper is essential to maintaining speed and power as outlined in the 7 week taper program.

Try not to get bent out of shape about how you feel each day of the taper. Your body is recovering from previous hard training and trying to retrain your fast twitch muscle group. The fast twitch muscles take more energy and you will feel pain, so recovery is essential during each practice.

Nutrition, hydration and sleep are as important as your training and can affect your swimming greatly. Doing one of the above incorrectly can ruin performance immediately. You can find optimal nutrition and hydration products by clicking on the Nutrition link.

Please pick your events wisely at Championships to ensure proper warm-up, warm-down and recovery between events and days at the meet.

Know your race strategy and be able to adjust as needed. Understand how breathing during the race will benefit you or adversely affect your performance. This concept is extremely important!

When you arrive at your hotel is also important. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to check-in, eat and shave for the meet. Plan for something to go wrong and maybe pack your suit and goggles in your carry-on bag, if you are flying.

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23 Week Program and Weightlifting, Dryland & Yoga

Lifting aerobically for swimmers isn’t needed. You already get your aerobic needs from the pool and or running. Cross training is great and do just that – Cross train!

Lifting is for speed and power as described in the FasterSwimming eBook. When you weight lift you are elevating your heart rate and are actually achieving a small base of aerobic conditioning.

If you have had a long break and need to ease into work-outs then please ease into it. Give yourself goals, with the best goal being longevity for exercise. If you attack it – it’ll be harder to maintain motivation.

I am going to elaborate on the 23 week program in FasterSwimming and your incorporation of weightlifting, dryland and yoga. If you follow the program you’ll lift twice a week, do dryland twice a week and yoga once. You need to add yoga at least during the taper phase for whole body strength and flexibility. It is also great for pre-season training. Start off with doing yoga as part of your dryland regime or begin with yoga as your dryland regime. When you have flexibility and feel stronger add more intense dryland and then start weightlifting. When you begin planning your weightlifting, dryland and yoga exercises you need to start with an emphasis on legs as they take the longest to get into shape and need more rest at the end of the season. Legs are neglected by all and drive speed. You must fight your desire not to work the legs. Legs will set you apart, drive the speed in swimming, give you a faster start and turn, better fly kick off the walls and create and maintain momentum.

When choosing your weightlifting daily program choose accordingly as outlined. You can mix it up between Whole body, Upper body and Lower body exercises either by set or alternate within sets. That is consistent with your swimming workouts. If you emphasize legs during weightlifting then have a recovery kick set during your swim work-out and the same pattern for Upper and Lower body exercises. Choose accordingly to coordinate all your workouts as you don’t want too much of one thing during the day. You need to alternate either by set or within each set as this is one of the essential guidelines to faster swimming. You alternate Upper and Lower body parts always to force recovery of the opposite body part emphasis as well as increase quality of the body part being worked.

When lifting and trying to maintain speed remember safety and the mechanics of each lift. Don’t just throw the weight in the air to ensure speed. You wouldn’t spin your arms in the water without controlled speed and efficiency through the water. Just remember this concept. Your controlled speed will develop over time just keep focus.

Dryland emphasis is mainly whole body working your core always with upper and lower body support muscles. Develop in conjunction with weightlifting, yoga and especially your swimming.

When you begin the 7 week taper your weightlifting, dryland, yoga, and swimming are all focused on developing speed and power while maintaining your aerobic base. Week three you’ll notice changes in your training requirements with the slow resting of your legs. (The weightlifting taper workouts are outlined on pages 78-81 and the dryland taper workouts are outlined on pages 113-117 of the FasterSwimming eBook.) Remember to specify to your yoga instructor to hold the leg poses for less time, possibly do them at the beginning of the work-out and do recovery stretching. The taper outline explains when you should focus on speed work. THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD STOP TRYING TO GET STRONGER! Strength helps produce speed. Do a few warm-up sets of your desired exercise then try a set or two of one repetition maximizing your weight, then stretch or do a recovery swim if you can. Get a massage or sit in the hot tub maybe on weeks 5 or 6. A full body massage if done correctly will take a few days to recover from so don’t do it the day before your big swim. Hot tubs will sap your energy so hydrate and use the hot tub for recovery well in advance of your big swim.

You should also limit your weightlifting and dryland exercises to about 30 minutes while increasing your yoga and stretching to 60 minutes. Maintain 45 minute sessions of each during the season. Recovery swimming after each would be great if you have the facility and the time. If you decide to do dryland during week 7 then add a +/- 20 minute session to maintain core strength before yoga or swimming. This is a great way to help the fast twitch muscles recover especially if you have just finished one of your championship meets.

If you have noticed from reading this article, recovery is essential to your faster swimming.