Encouraging More Adults to Swim
Fitness / Technique and Training

Write Your Own Practice

Some ideas for crafting workouts

David Grilli | May 1, 2002

If you practice on your own or with a small group of friends, you probably have to come up with your own ideas now and again. You can find workout ideas in books and magazines or you can make up your own. Here's how I make them up.

As I get more experienced, (older) I find the warm-up becoming a more important part of a good routine. I like to start with a swim of 500 -1000 yards swum fairly slow. I like to exaggerate the reaching part of the free style stroke. I feel this helps me to stretch out a little.

Next I will do a kick set or an IM set. I like to do something that raises the heart rate a wee bit. An IM pyramid consisting of a 25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25 goes well even if it is a lot of fly. Alternately consider a kick set of 300 - 600 yards. I find doing kicks on an interval works better. Straight kick sets tend to get too relaxed.

Now we get into the aerobic or hard working part of the workout. I like to target a certain number of yards, say 1000. I will do this yardage on an interval that requires honest work and yields 10 -15 seconds rest between swims. I like ladders, 100, 200, 300...

It breaks up the boredom. Take your heart rate at the end of the set to see if you are at or near your aerobic threshold. After an aerobic set I like to do an active recovery set. A good active recovery set will involve 200 - 400 yards broken down into 2 or more swims. Something like 4 x 75 on a 10 second rest interval.

Finish with a sprint set of free or stroke depending on your training goals. 16 x 25 IM order or 10 x 50 free style are two of the classics. Swim these on an interval allowing 20 seconds or more of rest but swim the in a target time. Say 35 seconds for a 50 free or 20 seconds for a 25.

Cool down with an easy swim. I like an easy 200 backstroke. Elite swimmers like to do breath control swims at the end of a workout. This is where you swim successive 25s or 50, taking fewer breaths each time. They call this hypoxic training. Sprinters love this stuff. Another elite swimmer cool down swim is known as a "Reset Swim." This is where you sprint your last swim as opposed to swimming easily so your muscles will remember how to sprint. I have tried it but I can't tell if it works. I am no sprinter.

This month's article is by David Grilli, Fitness Chairman of the New England LMSC and Past chair of the USMS Fitness Committee. This article is from the February, 2002 edition of the NEM News, and is the latest in David's Self-Coached Swimmer and Workout series. This article is reprinted with permission from the NEM News. To read other columns by David Grilli, please visit the New England Masters web site at: www.swimnem.org.

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