Perfecting Swimming Stroke Technique

Swimming, like many sports, is reliant on your body mechanics.

swimstrokeIf your body is not exactly symmetrical, or if you have one side stronger or more dominant that the other – as many of us do – then you’re going to have to work harder on perfecting your stroke technique.

Even though there are swimming aids out there like pull-buoys that help keep your hips elevated in the water, when you’re competing, it’s just you and your body and the years of training you’ve put into the sport that will pull you through.

One thing that will help with balance and staying focused is head position. In the water, your body should assume the same position as if you were standing, only horizontal. Therefore, your head position is relatively neutral and your focus will be looking down. The key here is to be aware of what’s coming up six feet in front of you. This will help keep you swimming in a straight line and stop you from drifting over into your competitor’s lane. The more aligned your body is, the more efficient you will be in the water, as no time will be wasted in correcting body position once you’re moving with great speed through the water.

Another important factor is your hand entry position into the water. Your fingers enter the water first at the halfway point between a full arm extension and the top of your head. Keeping your hand in line with your shoulder, work towards a 170° extension of the elbow at the top of your stroke. At this point, you want to flex your wrist at 30° before you pull back, using the elbow to drive this motion. Watch out for dropped elbows – one of the hardest techniques to master – keep your elbows set high and this will drive your pull back with more power and efficiency. You can use cables/pulleys, straps or resistance bands to perfect this move.

Spend some time focusing on each component of stroke technique before moving onto the next. So, practice some drills, using only your legs to propel you through the water, while you focus on body position, head position and where your eyes are focused. Once you’ve mastered this, practice hand entry position and a 170° extension of the elbow before moving onto set elbows and wrists and pullback. This will help you perfect each stage of stroke technique without carrying any mistakes into the next stage of your stroke technique.

 

Training Secrets of an Olympic Swimmer

training secrets of an olympic swimmerBuilding strength, perfecting body mechanics and technique.

It doesn’t matter how much you train in a day, if you don’t perfect your body mechanics, it won’t make much of a difference to the finish line. For Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, spending more time on stroke mechanics is more important than the 3 to 5 miles twice a day that he puts into his training. The trick is to slow things down and focus on what your body is doing. Keeping straight in the water is essential, especially off the wall. Being streamlined for at least 15 meters off each flip turn, Lochte is able to transition into the stroke with increased momentum and this is key.

“The only way to really work on technique is to swim very slowly and really think about every little thing that you’re doing. How your body is positioned, what your hips are doing, the positioning of your shoulders and hands and feet.”

Body position is also crucial. Lochte recommends using a pull buoy between the legs and concentrate on keeping your stomach above the water during backstroke. Work with the water not against it.

Kicking is Key

Kicking drills are also important to develop strength and body position. The amount of kicking that most elite swimmers do in practice has gone up at least 20 percent in the past few years. Kicking drills will help you build stamina and strength, and improve performance so that you get the most out of your stroke.

That old staple, the kickboard is every swimmer’s best friend. In order to build stamina and prevent exhaustion, a swimmer must have strong legs and the kickboard is the ideal fitness tool. It helps with stability because your arms are still and allows you to focus on your legs.

In addition to his practice in the water, Lochte recognizes the benefits of weight training and the strength it adds to his overall performance. He spends three times a week in the gym and focuses on building core strength.

Core Strength

Every sport benefits from building core strength. This is especially true of an elite swimmer who relies on the agility of their torso to keep them balanced and streamlined in the water. Lochte’s core exercises take up to 45 minutes of his workout, but 20 minutes for a recreational swimmer is enough to add power to your performance. To warm up, Lochte likes to use a medicine ball, then it’s multiple sets of push-ups, followed by 500 abdominal crunches.

Nutrition

No training diet is complete without proper high performance nutrition. For athletes getting enough calories and protein is often a problem. During the peak of his competition, Michael Phelps reportedly consumed 12,000 calories a day. Supplementing a well-balanced diet with protein powders and supplements is the best way to make sure your body gets the proper nutrients it needs. Whey protein and creatine are fast-absorbing and easy to digest and provide concentrated protein formulas that help to increase muscle size and strength, while speeding up recovery.

High Intensity Training Increases Longevity

Sprint training and high intensity interval training are beginning to replace traditional forms of cardio.

High intensity cyclingBoth these types of training come with all kinds of health benefits and are becoming very popular because you can train in far less time than banging it out on the treadmill for 45 minutes or more.

To test this theory, researchers out of Copenhagen, Denmark, looked at cyclists who train with intensity and those who train traditionally. The results of this study show that relative intensity not duration of cycling is most important in relation to all-cause mortality and even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

In other words, cycling fast can increase your lifespan.

The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2011, concluded that men with fast intensity cycling survived 5.3 years longer, and men with average intensity 2.9 years longer than men with slow cycling intensity. For women the figures were 3.9 and 2.2 years longer, respectively. The groups were adjusted for differences in age and conventional risk factor levels.

“This study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity. Our group has already published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.”

Current recommendations prescribe that every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity in leisure time, preferably every day of the week. The optimal intensity, duration and frequency still have to be established.

To improve optimum health, supplement your diet with a high quality whey protein isolate and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Combined these supplements have been proven to slow the aging process and help muscle wasting brought on through aging.

Source:

European Society of Cardiology (ESC). “Cycling fast: Vigorous daily exercise recommended for a longer life.” ScienceDaily, 18 Sep. 2011. Web. 21 Sep. 2011.

What Every Serious Cyclist Needs for Endurance

It’s biking season and that means greasing the gears, pumping up the tires and hitting the road.

What Every Serious Cyclist Needs for EnduranceBut what’s your strategy?

The Power Meter has been around for a couple of decades now and is a wise investment for any serious cyclist. Many models are mounted right onto the handlebars so you can track your progress in real time for maximum and average power output. Other features include measuring heart rate, speed, distance and time. One of the other benefits is that it helps you to track the best training routes based on your response and helps improve your endurance and aerobic fitness level by measuring your V02 max – your lactate threshold – or maximal aerobic power.

Compared to a heart rate monitor, the Power Meter gives you instant feedback and measures the force it takes to move the bike multiplied by the velocity, so even though your heart rate may not change, your power output will. Another benefit of the power meter is that it can also measure cadence in relation to your speed and heart rate. Cadence is affected by the gear you’re in and measures the number of revolutions of the crank per minute.

Cadence

  • Recreational Cyclists = 60-80 rpm
  • Racing Cyclists = 80-120 rpm
  • Sprinters = 170 rpm for short bursts
  • Lance Armstrong =  110 rpm

Cycle Power Meter Test

  • 12-minute warm-up (increasing intensity)
  • 5 x (4-minute high intensity + 2-minute low intensity)
  • 13- minute cool down (decreasing intensity)

Make sure to keep a record of your results to help track your progress. Be patient when you first start using the Power Meter, because many athletes have found it difficult to assess their performance accurately when moving to the outdoors after days or weeks of training indoors.

Ironman Power Test

For the more seasoned cyclist who is preparing for their first Ironman Compeition, here’s a workout from Certified Personal Trainer and Fitlode writer Cedric Godbolt to improve speed and agility and increase V02 max:

Goal: Push yourself to your highest level.

Power Test (AM)

  • 10-minute warm-up (increasing intensity)
  • 5 x (60-second maximum intensity + 6-minute recovery – when you hit the 2-minute mark, keep your pace around 50- 60 % of your VO2 max).
  • 8-minute cool down (decreasing intensity)

Perform this training concept as part of a two-a-day regimen, adding a 30-minute PM weight-training concept.

Weights (PM) – 2 set, 20 reps

  • Seated Calf Press Superset with jump rope
  • Seated Hamstring Curls
  • Walking Lunges
  • Flat Bench Swim Kicks
  • One -Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Seated Quad Extensions

I would only recommend this type of training to cyclists that are planning to compete, if not already competing. The morning and evening workouts are designed to boost your anaerobic strength and are primarily recommended for off-season training.

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM

Sprint 8 Swimming Workout

Earlier this week, we discussed the benefits of high intensity interval training and how it can stimulate human growth hormone (GH), which is necessary for building muscle and losing fat.

Sprint 8 Swimming WorkoutThis Sprint 8 Workout can be applied to any fitness regime besides running, like rowing, skipping, cycling and swimming.

As the popularity of this workout grows, various intervals are coming to light as people experiment with it and find a method that works for them. Here’s one example that Bill Lauer, a retired professor, uses to prepare for his Senior Games competition:

1. Swim Sprint 8 Workout

  • Moderate intensity: 75-yard freestyle for 90 seconds
  • Moderately high intensity: 50-yard freestyle for 60 seconds
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle sprint for 30 seconds

This is one set and should be repeated 8 times. The moderate intensity, 90-second swim acts as your active recovery in between each set.

2. Swim Sprint 8 Workout in a 25-yard Pool

This set is done in a 25 yard pool with swim fins on.

  • Moderate intensity: 25-yard underwater kick for 120 seconds
  • High intensity: 25-yard swim sprint for 30 seconds
  • Low intensity: 50-yard easy swim for 120 seconds

This is one set and should be repeated 8 times. The low intensity easy swim at the end is your active recovery.

3. Swim Sprint 8 Workout

This interval slowly builds the intensity from one circuit to the next, so pace yourself through the first set of 3 sprints as you will be ramping it up with each set. The low intensity, 120-second freestyle lap is your active recovery.

Beginner

  • Low intensity: 75-yard freestyle for 120 seconds
  • Moderate intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 40 seconds
  • Moderately high intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 40 seconds
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 40 seconds

Repeat 3 times.

Intermediate

  • Low intensity: 125-yard freestyle for 150 seconds
  • Moderate intensity: 25-yard breast stroke for 40 seconds
  • Moderately high intensity: 25-yard back stroke for 40 seconds
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 40 seconds

Repeat 3 times.

Advanced

  • Low intensity: 200-yard freestyle for 210 seconds
  • Moderate intensity: 50-yard freestyle or breast stroke for 40 seconds
  • Moderately high intensity: 50-yard freestyle or back stroke for 40 seconds
  • High intensity: 50-yard freestyle or butterfly for 40 seconds

Repeat 3 times.

4. Anaerobic Swim Sprint 8 Workout

Beginner

  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 7 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 6 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 5 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 4 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 3 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 2 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 1 time
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times

In between each sprint, swim an easy lap for 90 to 120 seconds for active recovery.

Intermediate

  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 3 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 3 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 2 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 2 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 1 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 1 time
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 1 time
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times

In between each sprint, swim an easy lap for 90 to 120 seconds for active recovery.

Advanced

  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 0 time
  • High intensity: 25-yard freestyle for 60 seconds, breathing 0 time
  • High intensity: 25-yard butterfly for 60 seconds, breathing 0 times

In between each sprint, swim an easy lap for 90 to 120 seconds for active recovery.

Source:

Campbell, Phil: Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness. (http://www.readysetgofitness.com/)

Originally published @ FITLODE.COM