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Tapering

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.