This may be a little remedial for some of you but it has been a while since we wrote about cycles in training. At the very least we hope it will give all of you pause about what works - or doesn't - for you. It matters not if you are a part time fitness swimmer or a full time Masters, YMCA or US Swimmer.
What does indeed matter is that you remember you are not best served by going full bore every time you train. Your body recovers and actually gets stronger during the rest phase. Weeks can have cycles, months or seasons can have cycles and even Olympians look at four year cycles. If you are feeling a little beat up you may want to consider changing your cycle.
Here at North Bay Aquatics our Senior team trainers have a weekly cycle that looks like this.
Dry land training is M/W/F for 75 minutes in the morning before school.
Swim training in the morning for 75 minutes is on T/Th before school. It is dedicated
to specific stroke work issues including underwater work.
Additionally, distance swimmers train Wednesday for 75 minutes before school doing longer swims, grooving their strokes while working negative splitting with heart rates in the 140-160 range.
In the afternoons we swim from 5-7 and they look like this.
M/W are full tilt stress days specific to the events that are primary for each swimmer. We have a sprint group with emphasis on 50's and 100's. We have a breaststroke group. We have a 200 group and we have 500, 1000, 1650 group.
Tuesday we have a team meeting for 30-60 minutes often with a special guest presenter. Then we swim 25's and 50's stroke work. This is a total recovery workout. No one's heart rate is elevated.
Thursday is what we call a "light aerobic" day where we swim about 30 minutes with heart rates in the 140-160 range.
Friday is a 90 minute recovery, again stroke work.
Saturday is a 2+ hour long course workout with split groups along the lines of M/W. This is a full tilt stress session as well.
We film every swimmer on T/F so they can see what they are doing from a different vantage point.
So when you look at the big picture we have 8 swims available and 3 dry lands. It is the rare week when anyone can make all 11 sessions due to school demands etc. Having said that, each swimmer knows when the dial gets turned up and when it is turned down. The great thing about this is that each session has a stated specific purpose. Some sessions it is challenging physical work, other ones it is specific muscle group work (dry land) while still other workouts are very specific stroke issues; muscle memory, building myelin wraps.
When do we kick? We kick on M/W/Th/S. The underwater specialists kick with fins, monofins and regular "bare" feet on those days as well as T/Th mornings. We occasionally kick with tennis shoes on as well.
We are very happy with our cycle right now. Our team is swimming faster in workout each week and they have to swim faster on Thursday to get their heart rates to 140-160...an indication of cardiovascular fitness. They all feel empowered. They have a huge amount of confidence. We had a pre-season meet a couple of weeks ago and they could see the results of their training. We have another one this coming weekend and we will have more of the same.
This cycle will change a little as we get closer to the "peak" meet season in December. The basics will remain the same. 8 pool sessions will have no more than 3 stress workouts. The closer we get to the big meet in December the less we will be doing on the stress days.
We encourage you, no matter your level of interest to consider what kind of cycle you can adopt so that your training levels get more advanced. It is truly a self confidence booster when you know without a doubt that you are becoming more capable or faster or fitter...or all three!