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  #1  
Old 03-03-2010
peeg67 peeg67 is offline
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peeg67
Default Basic Interval Training

I'm not new to swimming, but after major back surgery, swimming is the easiest exercise on my body and I'd like to get back into great cardiovascular shape. I don't plan on competitive swimming. I've done interval training on the Elliptical but don't know how to do it swimming. I've seen great posts on what that person does, but am not sure the best way to get into and do it, and how many times a week it ought to be done. I will be doing some elliptical work interspersed with the swimming (all freestyle).

If someone could give me some parameters, that'd be great. Thanks.

And by the way, I had back surgery (T11-L5) in Germany with a specific surgeon (recommendation of the people at Hopkins, Yale, Columbia and NYU based upon the complicated nature of it) - I now have artificial discs and "flexible" rods that allow me to move almost normally, and active sports will not injure me.
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  #2  
Old 03-04-2010
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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peeg,
Congrats on finding what sounds like a great surgical team. And welcome to swimming. We'll try to slowly and subconsciously convince you that competing is fun. More than anything, because the people in this sport are great.

My basic rules for interval training are:
1. always train at the level that requires 100% focus on your technique to do.
2. start where you are.

So what are you doing now for swimming? How often do you swim? How long do you swim each session? What is your technique like? STrokes per length?

The general requirements for health are the same as other modes of exercise. I believe most health groups now recommend 4-6 days/week for an hour of moderately intense exercise. Swimming will push the high side of that because it is less stressful on the body (so you body can handle more) and because the technique learning aspect will benefit from more frequent practices. So it is better to do 6 days of 30 min swims than 3 days of 1 hour swims, especially while you are learning the basics).

As you probably know from reading other posts, swimming is different from your elliptical work in that technique will play a greater role in your enjoyment. As a side benefit, since it sounds like you are doing this mostly for health, the constant learning of better technique will help keep your brain as healthy as your body. Also, especially for beginning workouts, we rest on the wall instead of swimming constantly for the whole time. This allows better focus on technique. You can change that if you like as you improve.

As for actual workouts, there are a few that I think will work for you. The best is probably:
4x25
4x50
4x75
4x100
4x125
Rest about 1 min between sets and 3-5 breaths between swims.

This adds up to a mile and will probably take most people 30-40 minutes to finish (including rest). I like it as a place to start because it lets you see what you can do now. If the 25s are a struggle, then your workout will be mostly short distances for a while. If you can get up to the 100s or 125s, then you have different options. You can alternate easy-fast by swim or by set to increase intensity. You can decrease your stroke count to force more concentration and more of a weight lifting feel to the practice.

Another I like is:
10 x 25 working on a technique point
25-50-75-100 to see how long you can hold that technique point.
repeat as often as you can in the time you have.

Examples of more advanced sets that I like are
300-200-4x25 repeat as often as possible in your swim time.
I hold the same stroke count throughout and get faster as the swim distance drops.

3x200 hold the same stroke count while getting faster or hold the same time will decreasing one stroke per length.

I will be able to guide you more if you respond with more details about you.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2010
peeg67 peeg67 is offline
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peeg67
Default Basic Interal Training

Thanks so much for your great reply! I swim for 35' and try to do it 4-5 times a week (often leave work at 8 or so, start at 6:30!). I'm not sure how good, technically, my stroke is, I'm trying to follow your video, doing the exercises before I swim. Certainly the actual swimming has gotten easier and by the time I finish or if I push myself, my guess is that my HR is about 150 (I'm 56 and 160lbs, not real muscular). In a 25yd pool, doing it fairly easily and breathing every other stroke (I get a bit out of breath doing it every 3rd or fourth) it takes 13 strokes - not real efficient.

I tried some "interval" training, 4' hard and 3' much more easily. By the end of the 4', I was real fatigued but I never totally stopped, so my guess is that my HR only dropped to the 120's or higher.

I'd like to get into really good shape again (used to compete in college - tennis at UNC so no stranger to hard training and I was the worst on the team!), and drop 5-10lbs (yes, 150) in the process.

Thanks again... great video. Competing isn't out of the question.. but for now, my goals are much less.
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2010
peeg67 peeg67 is offline
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peeg67
Default Basic Interval Training

Sorry, I wasn't clear... it takes me 25 strokes (13 with right) to 25 yds. Also, my legs are twigs and sink almost immediately. Unless I, while relaxed, really submerge my head, and even if I kick very gently, they sink. I almost have to arch my back a bit to keep them up toward the end of a Superman Glide... Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 03-05-2010
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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Peeg67,
OK. It sounds like the distances are not hard, balance is. I would make your first goal to get your hips to the surface. You have the video, spend a bit of time doing superman glides, superman flutter and do whatever you have to with your upper body to get the hips up. By that I mean, pike if you have to. Press really hard on your chest. Let your head fall completely. Once you feel your hips break the surface, you can extend your legs and come back to reality and see what you have to do to hold your legs up with the least possible effort.

It sounds like you like to really push. I will be hard to slow down enough for a while to get your technique up. But it will be worth it. But you can play with any of the sets I listed to see what feels good and develops your skill and body. I think I said it before, but a great way to increase intensity in the pool while thinking about technique is to use very low stroke counts. If you currently do 25, try to hold your 200s at 21. You will have to engage your whole body to do that.
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  #6  
Old 03-05-2010
peeg67 peeg67 is offline
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peeg67
Default Basic Interval Training

Thanks very much! Last questions.. if I have to work to keep my hips up, doesn't that "defeat" the purpose of easy, relaxed swimming, and should I time my 4x25 etc.? Again, I really appreciate it and am trying to follow the video.

Peter
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  #7  
Old 03-05-2010
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
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As for the effort, remember that you are looking for net effort and paying attention to which muscles are producing the effort. If I add 10% effort to pressing my chest down and that relieves 10% of the effort in my arms, I benefit because the core muscles are more fatigue resistant. And, in reality, a 10% effort pressing the chest usually drops my perceived effort by more than 10%. Remember that dropping the head, dropping the lead arm, and rotating less are all zero effort ways to get the hips up as well.
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  #8  
Old 03-05-2010
peeg67 peeg67 is offline
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peeg67
Default Basic Interval Training

Thanks for all of your help!
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