Training the systems for performance
Part 2 of things you should know about your sport but are not told! In this blog we will investigate what we are told on the internet, to what actually works. Some have commented on my perceived attack of certain business models being used in the fitness industry. However, it would seem there was not any push back on the 'scientific evidence' of aerobic training. Let's take it a step further and discuss the makeup of an hour training session. I'll use the examples of what is out there, to what you should be doing in the context of that hour being made much more productive for performance. Not to bash those who seek to make ‘working out’ more fun for their market, whether this be online bike gaming, or group spin classes. However, all triathletes who have limited time constraints and are looking to improve, need to address the question of how to get the best performance return on their time invested. Below are examples from swim training this week of Trisutto age group athletes in my private squad, who have a variety of different speed and skill levels. There were 3 different training sessions. None of these were about timed distance, and there were no exact number of repetitions for each individual. However, everything was based on time - each session was 1 hour duration.
Day 1 The main objective is speed. The secondary objective is low level aerobic conditioning.
We did 5 to 7 minutes of warm up in the water. Why? To loosen up arms and shoulders to minimise injury before speed work. The main set was then 35 to 40 minutes of 25m sprints, leaving every 45 seconds. This is a 1 part work to 2 parts rest - which is not 'exact' as it depends on each athlete's pace. However there is no easy swimming between the work. The training session is then finished with pull buoy, 3 x 100 as fast as possible with long rests - each 100m is started every 10 minutes. Yes 10 minutes. Then out the door and home. Analysis - this gives time working on speed to be developed. Not sharpened, but developed. What is the difference? If you do 8 sprints you will sharpen the speed you already have, however this is not enough repetitions to make your speed better. OK but no aerobic component in this at all? Not true, and here is why...
When you sprint for over 15 seconds you will lift your heart rate up to between 15 beats below maximum to near maximum. 30 seconds of static rest is not enough time to let your heart rate recover to a resting state. In fact, if I'm allowed to use scientific quotes taken as gospel, your heart rate won't return to even 100 beats per minute, remaining between 120 and 135 bpm depending on your fitness. Thus the heart or cardio system is getting a secondary interval session - spike up, spike down. But not anywhere near fully down to resting heart rate. 35 to 40 minutes is a workout in itself. Thus we look at that as the secondary goal. You will see on the next day's workout how it fits the weekly plan.
Day 2 The main objective is aerobic function, and the secondary objective is power endurance. Again the training session is 1 hour duration. Today is 100m repeats with 10 to 20 second rests. At 30 minutes (half way) add paddles. Analysis - This is aerobic swim day. Where is the warm up? - you ask. The first few repeats are always done at the individuals own speed choice. On days they feel not so great, we don't change the session, we change the speed that we do the session. The 100s stay the same, the rest period stays the same, the pull stays the same. Only the speed is not encouraged to go faster, but to be selected that you can hold the same speed on the last 5 repeats as the first 5. But coach, what if you attack the first part of the session, then blow up after 18 minutes? Then you went out too hard and you have stopped the set from being beneficial for efficient aerobic function. That's what our blogs are about, teaching you the real practical facts. How far is your Ironman swim portion? I would guess over 1 hour. So if you can't do the above, then your Ironman is over before you get around the 3rd buoy, and not your Ironman swim, your whole race is gone performance wise before you start it.
Day 3 The main objective is power, and the secondary objective is anaerobic function. The session starts with a 10 minute warm up with some paddles. Then a main set with four mini parts. The ability of each athlete dictates the distance in these mini parts, with the longest being 200m, some 150m, some 100m and some 50m. An example mini set 4 x interval with 20 seconds rest; and 3 minutes rest after the 4 intervals. 3 x interval with 20 seconds rest; and 3 minutes rest after the 3 intervals. 2 x interval with 20 seconds rest; and 3 minutes rest after the 2 intervals. 1 x interval with 20 seconds rest.
The mainsets are fast with paddles and buoy (pull). Rest is swim with no pull gear, and can be what 'we call a drill', or easy swim, or lean on the wall for 3 minutes - you choose. This set or sets, as you wish to describe it, is about developing power within the swim stroke. That is the main purpose of this session. With the way we are doing it, it also allows us to massage our anaerobic system. Clarification We do 4 swim training sessions per week in our ideal situation. Our pros programme is based on 4 sessions per calendar week. Yes, some pros do get in the water at other times as recovery, up to 2km but that is not counted as a swim but a passive massage without the $100 for the same benefits.
Conclusion We have a similar approach for the bike and run portions of triathlon training. I'm not going to explain all we do, and our athletes pay us for, because it's disrespectful to my athletes. However, as swimming is the most misunderstood of all the disciplines and the one most struggle with, I do use swimming in many of my examples of training methods. It demonstrates how one should look to train in your minimalist time constraints, and I can assure you on the turbo, it looks very similar to the above! The bottom line - we don't try to do a bit of everything in one session of an hour duration. We work it into a weekly cycle to get the most benefit for the time we have.
Just the way I see it!
Part 1 of things you should know about your sport but are not told! - The myth of cardio