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  #1  
Old 04-10-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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s.sciame
Default Adaptation

On this thread Gary wrote:

There are some interesting new bulletins by Dr Rushall on the USRPT website. One thing he mentions is that on a USRPT program, you will reach your maximum fitness (for the given frequency of trainining, anyway) in about 12 weeks. After that, you're only going to make meaningful speed gains via technique improvements. That was pretty much my experience. In fact, I initially stumbled across TI when my speed had plateaued on USRPT and I was googling for swim technique videos.

I found it very interesting because, from a self coached personal experience, I find this also happens with other training methods as well. When you start something new, you give yourself a different stimulus and this usually works well during the first weeks. Then, within 10-12 weeks more or less, the body eventually adapts to that stimulus and the gains are less and less until you hit a plateau. Maybe technique as well could deteriorate a bit during those 12 weeks (we fix some technical flaw and, little by little, the flaw comes back again while we were focused on something else, it's quite typical). So it can be a matter of training stimulus stagnation or a matter of technique or both, I don't know exactly.

Anyway, what to do next? What does Dr Rushall suggest? Stick with the same URSPT sets while trying (hopefully) to clean up the stroke from eventual bad habits ingrained during the process, or change stimulus?

A lot of coaches use periodization, ie change training stimulus every x weeks within the season. Perhaps this could help preventing this kind of issues.

Too many times I read of "improvement projects" in this forum. They typically last some weeks (10 to 12 for instance) and then eventually lead to success. But the point is what's next.

Salvo

PS: by the way Gary, what did you do to overcome that plateau?
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  #2  
Old 04-10-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Great questions, Salvo.

My first thoughts are:

1. Periodization can help you force your body to keep adapting rather than plateau forever. I am thinking something like this:

Week A (starting level)
Week B (slightly harder, either more intensity or more volume)
Week C (hardest week yet)
Week A-B (not quite as easy as A or as hard as B, but a significant relaxation from C, and time to focus on technical stuff and drills)

Then start the new cycle like this:

Week B (new "normal")
Week C
Week D (harder than C)
Week B

2. Any change to the stimulus can force the body to keep adapting. In my case, I could:

Increase pace of repeats (:42 instead of :45)
Add volume--more fast training sessions
Increase distance of repeats
Decrease rest intervals
Keep everything else constant but decrease SPL (more technique focused, but still more challenging for me physically as well)

That's as far as my thinking goes on this, so I'll watch with great interest to see what others have to say. My ideas are pretty basic but I've found I'd rather DO something to a simple plan even if it might not be optimal. Sub-optimal training is still FAR better than no training!
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  #3  
Old 04-10-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Ok, as far as I know this is called micro-periodization, ie week by week. By periodization I meant macro-periodization, ie blocks of 12 weeks for instance. A traditional macro-periodization example could be: 12 weeks focused on technique (usually at the start of the season), then 12 weeks focused on increasing aerobic capacity (slow swimming, increase volume), then 12 weeks focused on developing speed etc.

What you describe in points 1 and 2 is fine and it's more or less the way I train as well: week by week we work on everything from technique, to endurance, to speed etc. That is a bit of everything but never a ton of a single thing as in the above example.

In this way however, as Dr. Rushall points out, after some weeks (eg 12) you may hit a plateau. If that's the case, changing the stimulus the way you describe in point 2 may not be enough anymore. Because the low hanging fruits are over (eg. a basic aerobic capacity is there, a basic technique is there, a basic speed is there). To get to the higher hanging fruits then you may need to change stimulus completely, maybe focusing only on one thing for the next weeks - ie build more potential on one aspect while keeping the others in stand by. Don't really know, just speculating here.

There are pros and cons of both approaches of course: if you focus on only one aspect for several weeks you may get worse on the other aspects. On the other side, if you always practice a bit of everything week by week, you may never get higher than the low hanging fruits.

Let's see what others have to say.

Salvo
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Old 04-10-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Salvo, my experience echoes what you are saying. Every time I discover a new perspective in my swimming it fades after a while. For example, right now I have been focusing on picking up my stroke rate, even at the possible cost to my SPL. I haven't been counting the weeks, but 12 may be approaching. In this regard, I wouldn't cast any of this as a hard and fast rule but rather guide lines. The key question is whether or not you feel that you are still making gains from what you are doing. The gains don't even need to be in objective terms such as time or SPL. They can be in comfort level or the ability to maintain a pace for longer times or distances. But at some point the well runs dry and it is time to change. The question in my mind is whether it can pay to go back and revisit the old strategies you had used previously.

For example, right now I am getting more comfortable with a faster stroke rate but I still have the feeling I haven't really gotten as much as I can out of this. One indication of this is the fluctuations I see in my performance from day to day. So I am still working on nailing this down. But my SPL has increased considerably in the process. At some point I am going to have to go back and address that, but here's the point. I should probably address that while trying to not lose focus on stroke rate. The question then becomes how do I keep both balls in the air at the same time. Any suggestions are welcome.
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Old 04-10-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Danny,

do you have a long-time-plan on what you'll work and how to go and improve (hopefully)? If so, how about to put in some consolidation work? Like two steps forward and one "back". As swim for two weeks with your plan and before going on swim the second week again, with focus in the old goodies of your stroke. So your step back may turn out as step forward (felt and measurable) in reality...

Quote:
The question in my mind is whether it can pay to go back and revisit the old strategies you had used previously.
If you wan't get improvements from my first paragraph... hmm... it may take twelve further weeks of work to get the answer...

Best regards,
Werner
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  #6  
Old 04-12-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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In the search for this USRPT 12 weeks thing, I found an interesting article:

http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullet...g_Theory_1.pdf

and a similar thread:

http://forum.usrpt.com/forums/topic/...m-is-an-issue/

Note the different interpretations of "new stimulus": for one coach the adjustment in speed is the new stimulus (USRPT approach), for the other one new stimulus means doing something completely different (traditional approach).

In the end, I think I experimented USRPT the wrong way in the past. So, after all this talk about USRPT, I've just decided to give it a go and start a 12 weeks period of 100% USRPT training.

I started today, and during these weeks I'm going to train for the 400m and 100m. Eventually I'll fit a third distance later on, but for now let's focus on 2.

So I did a brief warmup and then the following 2 sets:

- for the 400s: 30x50m on 1:00 at 1:24/100m pace. To check pace and time, together with the pace clock I used the TT in lap mode at 21s/length. Result: though I can't currently hold 1:24/100m for a straight 400m, I succeeded the set with zero failures (is it normal??). Always turned at 21s and touched in under 42s. Steady SPL, steady effort. After the 30th rep, without additional rest I tried a couple of 75s at the same pace and rest just to taste the feeling: I found the 75s much more challenging, anyway I could manage to come with the beep (63s). According to USRPT, the next time I should try the 75s at same pace on 20s rest (so far I've done them with less rest and slower pace).

- for the 100s: 20x25m on :30 at 1:15/100m pace. Here, to check time and interval, together with the pace clock I chose to use the TT in mode 3 at 80SPM and committed to hit 20SPL and 23 beeps (ie 17.25s per length, to include a turn I should consider 2 more beeps and the resulting pace per 100m would be 1:15). Result: first failure at the 12th rep (hit 20SPL but came slightly behind the 23th beep), second failure at the 16th rep (again 20SPL but slightly more than 23 beeps), then success up to the 20th rep (but honestly I think I would have failed the 21th rep).

I really enjoyed this session! I must say I like the failure model, ie quitting the set before it's "too late". It leaves you more fresh for the next set and in the end you swim more quality lenghts and recover faster for the next session.
Perhaps this initial session was too easy (because I succeeded the first set instead of failing), anyway I left the pool with very good feelings.

I'll post some other updates in this thread.

Happy swimming everyone,
Salvo
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Old 04-12-2017
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Salvo,

Quote:
According to USRPT, the next time I should try the 75s at same pace on 20s rest (so far I've done them with less rest and slower pace).
Great work in structure and "focused power-work"! Just to throw in something: Be careful changing two variables the same time... and concluding "general" results...

Best regards,
Werner
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  #8  
Old 04-12-2017
gary p gary p is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
In the search for this USRPT 12 weeks thing, I found an interesting article:

http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullet...g_Theory_1.pdf
It's in the second to last paragraph of the above linked bulletin:
USRPT is the best form of training for developing event-specific fitness. However, the level of fitness that can be achieved is limited by inherited capacities and is achieved in no more than 12 weeks when starting from an untrained state. The USRPT format is ideal for teaching race-pace techniques (Rouard et al., 1977). Because there is no upper limit to skill acquisition, technique instruction should remain the major focus of any competitive swimming program.
Rushall doesn't see technique training and speed training as two different things. He practically preaches that they be done simultaneously. Outside of the USRPT realm, Rushall has written extensively on the physics of swimming and stroke pedagogy.

He suggests an 8 week macrocycle for breaking down stroke training into smaller parts.


Week
  1. Streamline
  2. Breathing
  3. Body Roll (freestyle and backstroke, only)
  4. Initial Action(s)
  5. Power Phase (Mid-Stroke)
  6. End-of-Stroke
  7. Stroke Recovery
  8. Kicking

For each attempt at an event-specific USRPT set in a week, you should have the same focal point for for the stroke microcycle. He talks about this in Bulletin 47, and sprinkles examples throughout the bulletins.

This is where it gets hard to do USRPT on your own. Without a coach observing you as you swim your sets for each event, you have to guess at which sub-point of the stroke microcycle to concentrate on. It would obviously be more productive if you had a knowledgeable coach prioritize technique adjustments based on their observations of your deficiencies, and the relative potential gains you could achieve from correcting them, as well as give ongoing guidance as you attempt the suggested changes.
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  #9  
Old 04-13-2017
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Just a note on adaptation--a reminder how quickly you can make gains at first by grabbing the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. I started at a low ebb (not very fit and overweight as well) and just completed my 6th USRPT session in 5 weeks. I've been swimming about 2400m 5 days/week, or 12,000m total.

Results:

In 5 weeks my resting heart rate has dropped from around 72 bpm to 60 bpm.

I have lost more than 15 pounds (sticking pretty strictly to a diet with 70-75% of my calories are from fats, with no bread, pasta, or sugars).

My first attempt at a USRPT set of 30x50m at :45 pace on 1:05 interval was 9 repeats before first failure. My 6th attempt at that set today: I completed the set pretty easily hitting :43 each time, and felt like I could have done another 10 repeats.

It's nice to make gains so quickly! (The only good side to starting out so un-fit). I'm sure all that will be slowing down considerably soon. But it sure is motivating when you're just starting out (again).
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Last edited by Tom Pamperin : 04-13-2017 at 08:53 PM.
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  #10  
Old 04-13-2017
Danny Danny is offline
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Tom,

Congratulations on all of the progress you've made! When you started this process, your goal was to swim 500 m in 7:30. When was the last time you tried a 500 m interval? I am wondering about the extent to which the 50 m repeats of USRPT really carry over to these longer distances.
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