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  #1  
Old 02-10-2012
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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Default Building Muscular Endurance

Without any doubt my breathing is the first factor preventing me to swim more than 100m. However there is also a 2nd one: Muscular endurance.

After some time my arms become tired, my hips drop as a result of tired core muscles.... clearly this affects technique. For example as my arms get tired, I do not seem to be able to bring my elbow forward as well and rebalance the body forward on recovery.

I am sure that the more I swim, the more I will build my muscular endurance.

But my question is GYM related: If I become stronger or more flexible, will this help my muscles produce the effort over a longer distance?

1. If I go to the Gym, should I focus on building strength (heavy weights, 3 sets of 8)?
2. Or should I focus on fast longer sets (may be lighter weights, 5 sets of 15 repetition each)?
3. Does stretching (shoulder flexibility) also relate to being able to swim longer distances without tiring?

Thanks. ALEX
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  #2  
Old 02-10-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex-SG View Post
Without any doubt my breathing is the first factor preventing me to swim more than 100m. However there is also a 2nd one: Muscular endurance.

After some time my arms become tired, my hips drop as a result of tired core muscles.... clearly this affects technique. For example as my arms get tired, I do not seem to be able to bring my elbow forward as well and rebalance the body forward on recovery.

I am sure that the more I swim, the more I will build my muscular endurance.

But my question is GYM related: If I become stronger or more flexible, will this help my muscles produce the effort over a longer distance?

1. If I go to the Gym, should I focus on building strength (heavy weights, 3 sets of 8)?
2. Or should I focus on fast longer sets (may be lighter weights, 5 sets of 15 repetition each)?
3. Does stretching (shoulder flexibility) also relate to being able to swim longer distances without tiring?

Thanks. ALEX
I've been reading and trying a lot of things related to strength training. The first thing I learned was that everything I learned/knew about "strength" training was wrong. It's been tainted by what we call "bodybuilding" or building large size muscles for looking great on the beach and on stage for competition.

without getting too much into the physiology, suffice to say you want to:

1. build tons of strength
2. not build any extra size or weight gain
3. not wipe out your muscles so that you can't train in your focus sport

the way to do this is to only do sets of relatively heavy weight but only for very low reps and lots of rest in between sets. this is what the russians figured out a long time ago and why they dominated olympic weightlifting for so long and how us americans became enamored with looking like Arnold.

so if you do too much, you'll wipe out your muscles and be too tired to effectively train in your focus sport like swimming. you may get bigger muscles, but your goal here is to be a better swimmer right?

my current workout is based on the one detailed in 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and is also captured in Underground Secrets to Faster Running by Barry Ross.

my typical set today looks like:

Warm Up
Bench
2x135, 4x pushup with clap, then RI 5:00
2x155, 4x pushup with clap, then RI 5:00
2x175, 4x pushup with clap, then RI 5:00

Deadlift
2x135, 4x one hop on ground and then up to 12-18" plyo bench, then RI 5:00
2x175, 4x one hop on ground and then up to 12-18" plyo bench, then RI 5:00
2x215, 4x one hop on ground and then up to 12-18" plyo bench, then RI 5:00

Then i do some extra exercises:
2x 8x assisted glute ham raises (see 4 Hour Body or search Youtube)
5x Bulgarians, each side, with body weight

Core:
Torture Twists (see 4 Hour Body or search Youtube)
3x 3x 5 seconds

On other days, I have begun doing some very low sets with Kettlebells: Cleans, Turkish Get Ups, Cleans to Presses, Snatches, Swings. I also work with Indian Clubs. For more info on these, go to DragonDoor.com.

I've had to adjust both the weight lifting and Kettlebell work organically to not wipe myself out for either the same day or next day's workout. But despite the low reps, I am still gaining strength as I inch my poundages upwards about every 2 weeks. AND i'm not gaining unwanted size or weight and still a pretty skinny dude. Wow amazing right?

Suffice to say this post is very vague and does not dive into very essential details. I would encourage you to research more about these before attempting these lifts, especially the deadlift where you can really screw yourself up if you don't do it correctly.

But the general concept is: low reps 1-3, heavy weight, lots of rest ~5 minutes. Also another great metric - the Rule of 10. Never do more than 10 reps of any one exercise in total. You see in my workout, i'm only at 6 for bench and 6 for deadlift. That's it and it's enough! Blows your mind right?

And I think strength training's importance is under-appreciated. We need a strong base to work from and it helps balance out the naturally unbalanced nature of trying to be really good in a particular sport. Otherwise, unbalanced muscles inevitably cause injury in a joint or area as other weaker muscles attempt to compensate and can't keep up because they are too weak...
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Old 02-10-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Out of pool workouts that have helped me the most are core training and upper body work that are unstable...


Examples
Planks
Planks on a bosu
TRX work like suspended planks, pushups, tricep extensions
Stability ball work - supergirl/superman, back extensions
etc.

If I do weight work, it's always dumbells and I stick with higher reps lighter weight. Swimming is not about strength, just as cycling and running are not about strength.

What I've experienced anecdotally (n of 1) is that this type of work lessens fatigue and allows me to focus on form longer without tiring in the pool.

I do not try to mimic pool actions on dry land because it can't really be done (maybe if you are using cords, but most people/most videos i've seen still don't do them correctly).
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  #4  
Old 02-10-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
Swimming is not about strength, just as cycling and running are not about strength.
I would push back on this statement in this way. The application of strength is not what strength building is about in relation to these sports. It's not about having strength to stroke harder, or to push on the pedals more, or push off the ground with more energy.

It's about building the body's *resilience* to efforts, both heavy and light, long and short. It's about building the body's inherent strength to resist falling apart in the face of this activity.
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  #5  
Old 02-10-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
I would push back on this statement in this way. The application of strength is not what strength building is about in relation to these sports. It's not about having strength to stroke harder, or to push on the pedals more, or push off the ground with more energy.

It's about building the body's *resilience* to efforts, both heavy and light, long and short. It's about building the body's inherent strength to resist falling apart in the face of this activity.
OK, but I would simply describe this as resiliency & stability of joints. We run a real risk of suggesting that FORCE generation is the important part of this, which it's not.
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Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #6  
Old 02-10-2012
Ghul Ghul is offline
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Quote:
Without any doubt my breathing is the first factor preventing me to swim more than 100m. However there is also a 2nd one: Muscular endurance.
I doubt the second is a major factor. With tolerable technique it should be possible to swim a long distance without much effort. There is a good argument
for those of mature years to do strength training to combat muscle wastage
but, except for sprinters, the swimming specific benefits are probably not high (though this is a controversial topic!).
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  #7  
Old 02-10-2012
Scotty Scotty is offline
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Default First things first...lay off weights

Alex:

Since you can go only 100 yards without becoming exhausted, I would work on developing endurance from a cardio exercise rather than lifting. The difficulty that "limited distance" swimmers have (I'm in this boat), is that if we can swim only less than five minutes without becoming exhausted, we are limited in quickly expanding endurance or lung capacity in the pool.

I would suggest biking 45 minutes outdoors or with a stationary bike, making use of interval training. For the latter, find a gym in your area that has Expresso bikes. There are lots of different courses to ride, with varying degrees of difficulty.

It has really improved my cardio, and how quickly my heart beat drops after I conclude the ride. My personal experience is that I get my "second" wind faster in the pool.

Really elite swimmers like TI coaches are close to their capacity for improving cardio strength, so working on muscle strength is their best alternative for decreasing fatigue. But for the rest of us, we have not come close to tapping out opportunities for cardio improvement.

Having said that, I lift weights three times a week (250 bench press, I weigh 175, and will be 59 this year). My swimming weight lifting is limited to leg extension pyramids starting at a weight where I can do 25 reps, moving to a weight where a can do only 20, reps, then 15 then 10. After 10, I rest three minutes then move up the pyramid. Do one leg at a time. For those of us who like to use a 6-beat kick, the exercise really helps endurance.

Hope this response helps.

Scotty
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  #8  
Old 02-10-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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I find the turn this thread is taking a little odd. This isn't meant to be critical at all, I just think it needs some re-orienting.

if you can only swim 100 yds before breathing or HR get out of control, somethign about your swimming technique needs to be corrected. even for a "slow" swimmer at 3 minutes per 100...3 minutes of activity hardly represents an endurance limitation.

If in fact, doing strength work in the gym extends your ability to swim more than 100 yards continuously...it's only because you are still using your upper body STRENGTH to swim...rather than learning how to let the water work with your body, and swim more efficiently.

I coach a 64 and a 71 year old woman who are both tiny people. 5' Even tops, maybe 110 pounds. Each can swim a slow mile without problem...they likely have 1/4 of your strength.

If you want to work on cardio endurance for the same of health, yet currently lack the swim technique to do so, consider an alternative form of cardio such as rowing, jogging or cycling. But you don't need to do it to become a better swimmer.

You simply need to be come a better swimmer to be able to use swimming as "cardio" activity.
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Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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  #9  
Old 02-10-2012
naj naj is offline
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For myself I have found yoga to be a very beneficial cross training mode to build not only the core, but also overall strength. In addition I do pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, superman drill and the like. Not a big fan of weights simply because so many people that can lift lots of weights can't lift their own body weight (at least that is what I have noticed0. However, what I do may not be for everyone and we each need to find our own way to build anaerobic strength.

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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  #10  
Old 02-11-2012
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naj View Post
Not a big fan of weights simply because so many people that can lift lots of weights can't lift their own body weight

Keep Swimming!
Naji
Naj, your comments remind me of Pavel's Naked Warrior. have you read it?
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Coach of 4 time USA Triathlon Triathlete of the Year, Kirsten Sass
Steel City Endurance, LTD
Fresh Freestyle

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