Below are some of the considerations that we take into account for our Dryland programming:
Separate swimming and dryland sessions as much as feasible, ideally separated by more than four hours. If separated by less than two hours, swim first.
Dryland should most often follow the order of skill work, speed work, strength work, and then conditioning work. We usually warm up, lift skill and/or explosive lifts (Power Clean, DB Snatch), move to strength work (Bench, Squat), and then to conditioning and deck-based dryland.
Rest between sets is largely determined by the purpose of our work. If more Energy-System based (Conditioning), less rest between sets is the norm, if more Nervous-System based (very fast and/or very heavy work), more rest between sets is the norm.
Testing should occur regularly in pre-season and post-season, and occasionally in-season.
– We test conditioning the first week of pre-season and usually the second week of in-season in order to get a handle on our strengths and weaknesses and adjust workouts from there.
– We test lifting the third week of pre-season, near the middle of our in-season, and sometimes test one or two lifts as we approach our peaking phase (late in-season). We test 1rm and use given percentages for our lifts more and more as the season progresses, and especially use percentages while peaking.
Use established standards to test performance. We test our main exercises to ensure not only individual progress (increasing individual test values) but appropriate progress across parameters in regard to established general values (our Athletic and Elite standards for both Strength and Conditioning).
Reduce the demands of the dryland program greatly at least once in-season. We usually do this headed into an important meet mid-season sometime. This enhanced back-off week allows some insight into what we might need to adjust headed into our peak at the end of the season and allows consolidation of general training gains to that point in the season. This is a planned back-off week in place of a planned lower-volume week that we cycle through regularly (3 up, 1 down).
Gradually move from more energy-system based work toward more nervous-system based work as the season progresses. This allows general energy-system fitness to be at a high level as we transition to a peak and higher nervous-system fitness. This general energy and nervous system fitness then leads us to specific swim fitness and to our peak.
Drop heavy and or fatiguing leg work one to two weeks prior to the peaking phase. Kicking is important to swim performance and we have found that backing off of intense and/or fatiguing leg work (squats, heavy Deadlifts, high rep jumps, etc) as we head into our peaking phase allows for better kicking.
Every tested metric should be at or very near maximum values during the peaking phase. For this reason we lift throughout our peaking phase, dropping volume the last month +/- and maintaining or even increasing intensity (usually moving from 80% of 1rm on Power Cleans to 85%+ throughout our peaking phase, for example) while focusing on acceleration.
The swimmers should focus on peaking their abilities as we move into and through the peaking phase. I have consciously omitted the word “taper” as I feel it allows the athletes to focus on something outside of themselves (a process) and perhaps has a connotation of “ease” or “easier.” I want them to only focus on peaking their abilities at the end of the season, whatever that requires of them.
Much like any sport’s seasonal plan, our Strength and Conditioning program is divided into phases (as illustrated in the table and alluded to in the above considerations). Within the framework of these general training blocks (monthly blocks +/-, or mesocycles) we adjust weekly (microcycles) and sessions (both swim and dryland) according to our capacities first, and our needs second. Addressing what you or your teams are capable of first and then moving on to what needs can be addressed within current capabilities (time available, fitness/fatigue levels, etc) is foundational to lasting progress. The ability to adjust planning so that athletes continue to adapt favorably to training is key to peaking when planned. Our general plan is durable (has stood up well season after season) and our specific plan is adaptable (allowing for adjustments as necessary) within this framework.
– Coach John Coffman