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Tapering Explained with Example Workout

Tapering means a lot more than resting and is a long process to prepare the athlete for a series of championship meets or “The Big Meet”. The athlete will still increase aerobic capacity while developing the speed needed for the end of the season. Developing Speed and Power is the focus for the athlete’s niche events.

Let’s walk through the first taper workout. Each coach will need to adjust this workout based on practice time constraints and ability of the athlete. Set #1 could be completed once. Set #4 could be eliminated as it is a repeat kick set. Set #5 could be changed to 4 x 100 instead of 200’s and you could adjust your speed to 100 Race Pace work.

Warm up:

You will notice that % of effort is noted throughout the workout. Variable Speed is a major part of the workouts. You don’t want your swimmers training at slow speeds for long periods of time so Variable Speed is always used. You want Race Pace work! Emphasize to your athlete that perceived effort is a major part of the 23 week and 14 week plans. Make sure that your swimmers understand the importance of QUALITY work during taper. TAPER DOES NOT MEAN RESTING BUT THE SPEED AND POWER PHASE.

“No Grab Start: is a drill used to get the swimmer to use legs first when reacting on a start.

Tarzan is used a lot as a speed drill throughout the taper. Please email me with any questions or further explanation of drills or this workout. [email protected]

Heart Rate is only used once in this workout during warm up but is a great tool and used a lot during taper.

Warm up: start into 300 choice swim Variable Speed by 150 70% – 75%

6 x 50 all no grab starts (emphasize leg reaction first no arm swing or upper body movement)

1-3 25 choice swim / 25 Tarzan heart rate above 25 beats for :10 seconds

4-6 25 choice swim / 25 3 strokes Tarzan fast then 1 stroke easy freestyle with head down repeat pattern.

25 or 50 easy based on what end of the pool you train.

Set #1

Sets are designed for this workout alternating upper body and lower body by set. This is built-in recovery work and a planned part of each workout. All workouts will either alternate upper body and lower body sets or the sets are designed to alternate upper and lower body within the set.

For ex: 4 x 100’s alternating 25 kick @ 70%/ 25 sprint swim/ 25 kick @ 80%/ 25 drill swim.

Incremental Stroke Count – Where the athlete increases the number of strokes per a specific distance to increase speed. This does not imply less efficiency or a change in stroke mechanics.

Complete the set below IM with :15 rest into the 3 x 100 IM on 1:20 send off followed by the 50 easy into the second time swimming freestyle also with :15 rest.

The freestyle part includes incremental stroke count and variable speed work by a specific distance or by stroke count.

The variable speed work in the 400IM is a great way to teach your swimmers how to actually swim the 400IM in a meet.

Set #1 complete this swim set twice – 1st time IM(Individual Medley), 2nd freestyle :15 rest

3 x 200 reverse IM order (combo fly 2 right arm, 2 left arm, 3 swim both arms) @ 75%

(2nd time thru free – incremental stroke count each 50)

400 IM order (combo fly as above) Variable Speed by 50 75% – 80%

(2nd time thru free – Variable Speed by 50, 75% – 80% with incremental stroke count on the 2nd 50).

3 x 100 IM on 1:20 1st one @ 80% with last sub +/-1:05 adjust for ability.

(2nd time thru free with :15 rest, 1st 100- 15 fast strokes / 15 slow strokes,

2nd 100- 10 fast strokes / 10 slow strokes, 3rd 100- 5 fast strokes / 5 slow strokes)

50 easy into 2nd time

Set #2

This kick set includes variable speed work by a specific distance and kick count. Make sure your athlete understands the importance of kicking. Kicking is specifically outlined throughout the season and especially during taper. Understanding the importance of kicking for speed and power and how to taper legs are essential. This taper process takes you step by step.

Set #2 top stroke kick set :20 rest

2 x 300 VS by 150, #1 70% – 100%, #2 100% – 70%

4 x 50 #1 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks, #2 10 fast kicks / 10 slow kicks,

#3 15 fast kicks / 15 slow kicks, #4 20 fast kicks / 20 slow kicks

50 easy

 

Set #3

Race Pace is the goal time the athlete wants to achieve in a specific event. Holding Race Pace when asked for shorter distances is necessary to prepare each athlete for the physical and mental demands of the work needed. Know what times you want the athlete to swim for each distance. When tapering, the athlete will complete race pace sets with less rest, on faster send offs and for longer distances to prepare them for the eventual swim.

Set #3 top stroke swim

25 on :25 @ 100 Race Pace

75 on 1:20 @ 200 Race Pace

50 on :45 @ 100 Race Pace

100 @ 200 Race Pace

100 easy

2nd stroke swim

50 on :50 @ 100 Race Pace

100 on 1:50 @ 200 Race Pace

75 on 1:30 @ 100 Race Pace

125 @ 200 Race Pace

100 easy

Set #4

Complete as noted above

Set #4 2nd or 3rd stroke kick set repeating set #2

Set #5

Achieving Race Pace is essential and the athlete needs to take responsibility for this. Please adjust rest when breaking the swim or allowing more warm down or recovery time if needed. Try to consider where the athlete is in their training to help you decide parameters for the set. Adjust as needed to achieve Race Pace time.

Complete from blocks if time allows – top stroke swim

flyer’s swim the 1st 200 freestyle, add warm down if needed between 200’s

4 x 200 on 3:30 – 4:00 +/- based on quality and time needed to recover

1st @ 400 IM Race Pace or 500 Race Pace

2nd @ 200 RP – 400 Race Pace/500 Race Pace broken @ 100 for :05 – :15 as needed

3rd and 4th @ 200 Race Pace broken @ 75 and 150 for :05 – :15 each time

100 easy

Total yardage = 6,725

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Building your Dryland Program – Week 1 Example

Dryland Training 1 – coinciding with Week 1 Faster Swimming Weekly Workouts

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate these workouts by at least one day
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Basic strength and energy-system work
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout

 Workout #1 (Week 1)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Squat/Thrust

Stability 2 x 1:00

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Mountain Climbers

5 Push-ups every :30            continuous         1:00 Rest between sets

3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust                        30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

5 x 30 Squats                             continuous         :45 Rest between sets

Vary stance (narrow, medium, wide)

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Workout #2 (Week 1)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Mountain Climbers

Stability 2 x 1:00

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust                        30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

4 x 1:00 Walkout Push-ups            goal=effort :45 Rest

2 Push-ups per walkout

2:00 Push-ups                              goal=effort no Rest

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

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Building your Dryland Program – Mid Season Example

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate these workouts by at least one day
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Basic strength and energy-system work
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout

 Workout #1 (Week 27)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 SQUAT/THRUST

2 x 1:00 Stability

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Mountain Climbers

5 Push-ups every :30            continuous         1:00 Rest between sets

3 x 1:30 SQUAT/THRUST                     30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

5 x 30 Squats                             continuous         :45 Rest between sets

Vary stance (narrow, medium, wide)

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

 

Workout #2 (Week 27)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Mountain Climbers

2 x 1:30 Stability w/switches

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 SQUAT/THRUST                     30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

4 x 1:00 Walkout Push-ups            goal=effort :45 Rest

2 Push-ups per walkout

2:00 Push-ups                              goal=effort no Rest

C-down               4 x 1:30 Stability w/switches

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

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Building your Dryland Program – Pre-Taper Dryland Test Set Example

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate the test workout from other workouts by at least two days
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Use results from these tests to work on any glaring weak points, especially as we are now in the taper phase!
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout
  • TEST WEEK – do your best and see where you’re at in your training!!

Workout #1- TEST (Week 18)

Warm-up    3 x 1:00 Stability

1:00 Overhead Squats

2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

Test Sets 

5 x 1:00 Squat/Thrust    30 per goal  :30 Rest between

2:30 Stability                                                  no Rest

3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust/Push-up/Jump   20 per goal  3:00 Rest between

3:00 Push-Ups      75 goal     Rest as needed

Rotate/Twist/Sit-up Ladder    12 goal    no Rest

Cool-down    5 x 1:00 Core Rotations

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :20 intervals

5 min Active Stretching

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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.