To lift or not to lift? Find out how building muscle could sharpen your race performance
In the pool you need to grab the pull buoy and paddles to do resistance training. Using paddles means you will be forced to move more water, thus creating resistance. By using a buoy, you take away any propulsion from the legs. Strength in the water is a key to effective open-water swimming. Unlike in a pool, the open water presents various challenges, such as waves, wind and other swimmers. Open-water swimming is therefore more about strength than pretty form. Some of the best swimmers in the sport have less-than-perfect form but thanks to their specific strength they are able to power through the water.
Long sets, 1,000 metres or more, are best to build swim power. A favorite set of mine is to do two to three rounds of 500m at race pace with the pull buoy, followed with 5x100m at race pace with 10 seconds’ rest in between each. Adding paddles to this set helps you build power and it also forces you to swim at race pace when tired. Again, a specific muscle-firing pattern is created so it translates directly into what will be needed on race day.
Make it work
These types of swim, bike and run workouts are most effective when done immediately after weight training. This is because the muscles are already fatigued and now have to perform the specific task of swimming, biking or running. Doing the strength workouts the same day will also work if you cannot do them back-to-back.
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