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  #1  
Old 07-07-2014
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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Default USRPT - A new and inferior training system?

I haven't been a coach several years now, and haven't stayed in touch with the swimming world. A friend of mine described her current master's practice, which uses USRPT (Race Pace Training) to a large degree. She says the practices are boring, and seemingly pointless. And they are also all the rage.

I looked up USRPT. From what I can tell, it consists of short repeats at race pace. I generally like the looks and philosophy of the program, but I believe it falls far short of the quality of the triathlon swim training programs I wrote for Total Immersion (http://www.totalimmersion.net/store/practice-plans).

USRPT is based on the idea of specificity, or the idea that training need to resemble the specific race you are training for. USRPT eliminates kick sets, pull buoys, paddles, etc., because they are not specific to the goal a race. I like that!

However, here are the problems that I see (based on a very brief bit of research):

First, it appears to be designed for short races. The sets consist of multiple repeats of 25's, 50's, and 100's. I firmly believe that short repeats are the best way to develop the skill required to swim your best. However, for the triathlete, these short repeats are exactly not specific! My training programs use short repeats to imprint habitual coordination, and then (with the principal of gradual progression) applies those habits to longer repeats, and eventually to distances that approach or match race distance. (For shorter races, training sets may eventually match race distance. For longer races, long training repeats at race distance seem to imprint slower swimming and are avoided in my plans.) During the gradual progression to longer distance repeats, there is a regular periodic return to shorter distances, to "re-connect" to the higher speed, greater coordination, and greater ease that is possible with shorter repeats.

Second, it looks like the primary goal of USRPT is to attain fitness to swim harder. There appears to be little attention to other important metrics, such as stroke length and rate. There also appears to be little emphasis on what it actually takes to become a better swimmer, how to improve balance, timing, streamlining, etc. For a triathlete, the goal should be to develop the maximum speed for the amount of effort you can reasonably expend during a race without sacrificing the bike and run.

Third, it doesn't teach a swimmer to experiment and learn. My training plans help a swimmer progress from defined and assigned focal points to a "choose your own" scenario where you decide what practice goals best suit your current needs - something that rarely is addressed in a "coach on the deck" practice.

Although USRPT unexpectedly veers from the standard "workout" regimen of traditional swim practice training and moves toward a much more productive plan that emphasizes repeatability, I think it falls short of Total Immersion type practices.
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2014
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Yup I agree with you Brian, not in line with what we teach. But it is certainly a big step out of the traditional box of the sending swimmers through the "sausage grinder", more and harder can only make you faster mantra. USRPT is tuning this kind of training on its head too. I believe the concept is not allow the system to constantly breakdown and repair, but rather prevent the lactic acid build, and train short distances, quicker, and more frequently. But I also think this could be applied to longer distances, and not just sprints.

Here's an excellet piece on Michael Andrew and USRPT: Turning Pro isn't crazy for this 14 yo swimmer

Stuart
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2014
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Hey CoachBrian,

can you point me to some of the USRPT plans out there?

i believe USRPT is more about neurological training than anything else. You want to train the CNS to maintain a race pace and do it over the distance that you race at. So yes i believe it works well for pool races where distances are easily repeatable. But i personally have not seen someone use it for long distance yet so was curious on what training plans look like for that. I suppose some of Terry's 200m repeat workouts are like that. If you can maintain the goal SPL/tempo/time per length for long sets like that, you are likely to have done well at burning into your CNS to swim at those paces during a longer race.

i also think that USRPT is VERY advanced. forget it if your form is not near perfection. so i would put it in the realm of, use TI first to get your form near perfection, then optimize and take your form into time and distance with the training program of choice like USRPT.

IMHO if you try USRPT before your form is good, you are most likely burning in bad habits and/or attempting to achieve race paces which are not obtainable/sustainable at your current skill level.
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Old 07-07-2014
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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CoachDavidShen,

I don't have any plans, only true brief description from my friend, and what a quick google search gave me.

I should have been a bit more accurate in my post (I'm out of practice!). I believe, but could be persuaded otherwise if someone has more information, that USRPT is attempting to do what I put into my training plans, but with far less attention to the development of the whole swimmer, and less applicability to the long distance swimmer or triathlete.
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2014
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Brian,

You and your friend(the masters swimmer) also have to ask yourself "what are my swimming goals"

If the goals are for fitness swimming, the usrpt isn't for that person. If the goal is to finish a triathlon swim with energy for the bike and the run, usrpt probably isn't for that person either.

If you are a swimmer that is wanting to race 50,100, 200, and even 400/500 then race pace training is absolutely for you. Your body has to learn to swim fast in practice to swim fast in meets.

As a master's swimmer, I have been trying to add more usrpt to my training. I don't follow the program 100 percent because I need a longer warm-up, plus I do like to do some drills and kicking in my practices but I am converting more and more of my sets to shorter repeats at higher intensities.

An open water swimmer and/or triathlete will probably prefer the longer, slower, more boring(my opinion) repeats that most teams and online services offer. As someone that is more interested in shorter, faster distances, I am starting to love the challenge of how many repeats can I make holding a certain time, on a certain rest period, before failure.

You can still count strokes, use a tempo trainer, have various focal points, etc. In fact, a swimmer can start to see how well the focal point can be maintained while trying to swim faster on multiple repeats instead of longer, slower repeats.

This isn't for everyone. People just have to ask "what are my swimming goals?"
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Old 07-08-2014
CoachBrian CoachBrian is offline
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John,

The goals for my friend are triathlon, and there are many triathletes in her masters class.

I absolutely agree with you that you have to swim fast in practice to swim fast in a race. The difficulty I have with USRPT for triathletes is that it violates its own principle of specificity. Doing short repeats is perfect for swimming short races, but if the principle of specificity is to have any value, then swimming only short repeats will not provide the neuromuscular adaptation needed to be able to hold a specific pace, stroke rate, stroke length, and coordination for a longer race. Simply put, short repeats are not specific enough for a long race.

My training plans start off very much like my friend's description of USRPT - short repeats. But there are specific foci and additional metrics involved, as well as a tune-up period. As good strokes and speed with ease become habits (I call it developing habitual coordination) the swimmer's ability to maintain those habits over longer repeats is tested. That is the principle of gradual progression, and I think it is essential for a longer distance swimmer.

Too many triathletes just go and swim long repeats until it becomes easier. But they are often imprinting bad habits. That is why a tune-up and short repeats are needed.

Again, I like what USRPT does. It is unusual in the mainstream swimming world to see a training concept that eliminates the stuff that TI called unnecessary and even harmful years ago.

I just happen to be immodest enough to believe that my training plans are superior!
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2014
isaac.ohel isaac.ohel is offline
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Default Informed opinion please

http://usrpt.com/mini-guide-to-usrpt/

Above is a link to the USRPT site. The tabs include detailed training advice as well as the research basis for the method.

It certainly seems that the focus is on shorter distances. However it would be interesting to know if it applies to open water races. Maybe one of you coaches, will take the time to read through the articles and the research, and then give us an informed opinion?

BTW, the recommended repeat for the 1500 m race is 100m.
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Old 10-26-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaac.ohel View Post
http://usrpt.com/mini-guide-to-usrpt/

Above is a link to the USRPT site. The tabs include detailed training advice as well as the research basis for the method.

It certainly seems that the focus is on shorter distances. However it would be interesting to know if it applies to open water races. Maybe one of you coaches, will take the time to read through the articles and the research, and then give us an informed opinion?

BTW, the recommended repeat for the 1500 m race is 100m.
I agree with John's summary, although even for longer distances, it makes sense to me to frequently repeat your best form/spl/pace combo for an endurance event over short, say 50yd repeats.

This was something I discovered shortly after my TI coach training, that there were certain times my stroke felt "on"...just perfect and fluid and I was swimming easily and at a brisk pace for me taht I wanted to hold onto that feeling for as long as I could.

My solution for that was to break it into 50yd repeats of pace & SPL. For example, 10 x 50 at 36 seconds holding 18/19 SPL. I would take as much rest as needed to repeat that as many times as I could, with the goal to be reducing rest to 10 sec or so. If I needed more than 30 sec rest than the SPL/Pace combo I chose was probably too ambitious.

The main issue is that most folks posting here, not all of course, don't know what their 1500m race pace is or could be, as most folks posting for help here in the forum are developing skill sets that would make "race pace" training emphasize pace over skill development.

Terry's approach to neurologic imprinting of sustainable SPL & Tempo combinations (or SPL & pace or Temp & pace) is completely in line with the principals Rushall is writing about in my opinion, and is the basis for my 12 Week Olympic/Half Iron distance training program available in the TI Academy.
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  #9  
Old 10-26-2014
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
I agree with John's summary, although even for longer distances, it makes sense to me to frequently repeat your best form/spl/pace combo for an endurance event over short, say 50yd repeats.

This was something I discovered shortly after my TI coach training, that there were certain times my stroke felt "on"...just perfect and fluid and I was swimming easily and at a brisk pace for me taht I wanted to hold onto that feeling for as long as I could.

My solution for that was to break it into 50yd repeats of pace & SPL. For example, 10 x 50 at 36 seconds holding 18/19 SPL. I would take as much rest as needed to repeat that as many times as I could, with the goal to be reducing rest to 10 sec or so. If I needed more than 30 sec rest than the SPL/Pace combo I chose was probably too ambitious.

The main issue is that most folks posting here, not all of course, don't know what their 1500m race pace is or could be, as most folks posting for help here in the forum are developing skill sets that would make "race pace" training emphasize pace over skill development.

Terry's approach to neurologic imprinting of sustainable SPL & Tempo combinations (or SPL & pace or Temp & pace) is completely in line with the principals Rushall is writing about in my opinion, and is the basis for my 12 Week Olympic/Half Iron distance training program available in the TI Academy.

I bought the DVD set at http://www.usrpt.info. It's a great view albeit 7 DVDs took me a long time to go through. Some of Brent Rushall's ebooks are here: http://brentrushall.com. The step by step guide is here: http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/swim/bullets/47GUIDE.pdf and is free!

in the step by step guide, it shows 1500m races using 50s (rarely), but recommending 75s and 100s. in Table 2, it shows recommended repeats - wow 25-30 100m repeats holding pace/SPL/etc!

someone should develop/try USRPT for 2.4mile/3800m events. my guess is that it would be 100s (rarely), 150s and 200s as standard. I wonder if it would mean double the race distance holding 200m repeats of pace/SPL/etc - 40 repeats? i suppose you'd want to do that if you really wanted to race a 2.4mile/3800m swim distance...
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Old 10-26-2014
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post

someone should develop/try USRPT for 2.4mile/3800m events. my guess is that it would be 100s (rarely), 150s and 200s as standard. I wonder if it would mean double the race distance holding 200m repeats of pace/SPL/etc - 40 repeats? i suppose you'd want to do that if you really wanted to race a 2.4mile/3800m swim distance...

David, i agree with your prior post about shortcutting USRPT too quickly impacting technique development. But regarding the 200 x 40 repeats (what is that...8k?

That's not unrealistic for some pros. I read an article not long ago about a marathon runner doing something like 30 x 1k marathon pace repeats with walking in between. Sounded tortuous and I wondered why not just run a 30k? lol.

I suppose it depends on wehter or not you are maintaining stride length, contact time, etc and if you can maintain it better with broken 1k repeats.
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