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  #1  
Old 01-21-2010
indysjl indysjl is offline
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indysjl
Default Help for A Tempo Trainer Noob

Hello all,

I just purchased a tempo trainer and am looking for recommendations on beginner tempo trainer practice sets.

My goal is to optimize my SLxSR for speed, and I would like to leverage the tempo trainer in building from my current SLOW stroke rate (haven't measured, but it's slow) to a faster stroke rate, while preserving my current form (15-17 spl, best is 13, 25yd pool).

I am wondering if you all could give me some practice hints, dos/donts, and please refer me to older posts.
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  #2  
Old 01-21-2010
madvet madvet is offline
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One thing to note is that while the TI convention for strokes per length is the number of times your left hand hits the water, the TI convention for stroke rate is the interval BETWEEN hitting left/hitting right.

So if you do a 25 yard length in 12 stroke cycles (left hand hits the water 12 times, right hand hits the water 12 times) your SPL would be 12. If you did it in 24 seconds, your stroke rate would be 24 seconds for 24 srokes or 1.0 seconds per stroke.

I think I have that right, right?
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  #3  
Old 01-21-2010
indysjl indysjl is offline
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madvet,

The way I understand it, is that there are two strokes per stroke cycle, so if you swam a length in 12 strokes cycles, your spl would be 24....

I agree with your conclusion on the stroke rate.
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  #4  
Old 01-22-2010
dshen dshen is offline
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I have found that the tempo trainer is one of the best ways to introduce measurability and repeatability into swimming. It's much more detailed than just remembering how fast you can swim laps; you also gain knowledge into efficiency when you couple tempo and counting strokes per laps. Remember that you can always swim faster by just cycling your arms faster, but you want to know across workouts that you are consistently putting out a certain effort, combined with efficiency, and still keeping to a speed, or going faster/slower. It is not as good to know that you swam the same interval at given speed over two workout days, but one day you worked your butt off because your form was off but the other day you were more rested/better form and you actually had less effort.

I use the tempo trainer both for improving stroke technique and efficiency and then for endurance training.

For improving stroke technique/efficiency, I first setup baseline counts for 25y lengths from 2.6 seconds tempo all the way down to 0.8 seconds tempo. Around 1.2-1.3 seconds is considering swim cruising, and .8-.9 you're pretty much sprinting. In/around 2.4-2.6 seconds is almost unbearably slow. Over a period of workout days I would swim 4x25 (or 2x25) at each time and then record that down. Sometimes I would start at 2.6 and work my way down .1 seconds at a time, sometimes I would start in the middle, ie. 1.6 seconds and go to 1.2, sometimes I would start at 1.4 and go all the way down to 0.8. Sometimes I would go directly to 0.8. I usually stop when I feel I am getting too tired and losing concentration and focus.

BTW, writing it down sure beats trying to remember. Bringing paper and pen doesn't work because they fail when wet. I use a cheap plastic acrylic picture frame and a grease pencil which is better, although it can fail when there is condensation on the acrylic, but it's still much better than pen and paper.

Once you establish baselines, then you can see if you can figure out ways of beating those stroke counts. Mostly this is about firming up your technique more than anything else. Also, you will notice that at certain points you'll jump 1-2 strokes per length. These are critical points at which something is happening; maybe your technique is deteriorating, maybe you're getting tired.

BTW, if you get tired, it may be a good time to just get out of the pool because you don't want to imprint bad habits!

At some point you'll find that it's almost impossible to beat your stroke count at given tempo time. This is now your max and now you can use this to practice against from time to time to know if you're technique is suffering for some reason. However, I also think it is an interesting exercise to take some time to see if you can actually beat and maintain a lower stroke count for a given tempo time, so play with this.

For endurance, it's been about figuring how to maintain a tempo in the face of declining resources, and maintaining form at those tempos over a longer period of time and distance. So I use tempo trainer on more continuous sets, starting with 50, 100, and then longer, usually by adding 50m every week, or sometimes varying it up with more short 50m lengths, or sets of 200s, or one big 500 or 1000m set. But definitely start low distance in lengths and give yourself some rest, even upwards to 30 seconds rest. The object is to slowly increase lengths, and reps, and lower rest between reps (ie. 20 sec, down to 10 or 5 seconds rest) gradually such that you do not ruin your ability to maintain optimal swimming form by getting too tired. If you find that at a certain interval distance that you are having trouble keeping up or your form is getting messy, I would back off and practice that workout a few more times before increasing the difficulty.

Over time, you will get better and be able to go longer, with your tempo trainer keeping time along the way as a relentless timemaster.

The other thing to do is to practice different tempos with this protocol. Then you will have different speeds to engage, such as sprinting to get in front of a pack and then cutting back to cruise mode and being able to switch cleanly from all that.

A word about training on the slow end. I have found that, while almost unbearable, it has also been extremely valuable as a way to reinforce holding perfect form and practicing balance in the water. I find this translates to helping my form with faster tempos.

Hope this helps...Coach Shinji is going to run me through a "strategic use of tempo trainer" talk soon. I hope to learn more from him on how he is using the tempo trainer to help improve swimming.
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  #5  
Old 01-22-2010
indysjl indysjl is offline
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dshen,

Wow, what a post! That's a lot of great information.

I tried the tempo trainer out for the first time last night.

I warmed up for ~200Y, then swam at my favorite easy speed, counted strokes and timed myself for a 50; 32 strokes over 50y in :55. From this I calculated a SR ~ 1.7. I set my tempo trainer to 1.7 and started swimming.

On my first few lengths I found it a bit tricky to maintain swimming focals while trying to synch up with the trainer beeps. I found that it was easy to lose timing if I turned to a swim/stroke focal. I also found that it takes some practice to develop timing to synch up just after you hit the wall and push-off. These got easier as the practice went on and my SPL improved by 1-2 strokes by the end of the practice.

My next practice will probably be @ 1.7 again, working on being able to keep time without dedicating it concentration that will detract from my concentration on swim/stroke focals.

Thanks for your help!
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  #6  
Old 01-22-2010
indysjl indysjl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dshen View Post
...Coach Shinji is going to run me through a "strategic use of tempo trainer" talk soon. I hope to learn more from him on how he is using the tempo trainer to help improve swimming.
Could you record this conversation and post on youtube? :p
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  #7  
Old 01-22-2010
dshen dshen is offline
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yes syncing with the beep can be tough. that's why i generally start with a slow tempo to warm up and gradually increase it. jumping in at .8 can be really daunting.

you can try syncing your kick (if you're using a 2BK) to each beep. that seems to work best for me. i have heard you can sync other movements, like the spear forward but i don't like that as much as syncing the kick.

anticipation of the beep is the worst. it really throws you off. or if you get behind the timing of the beep and you race to catch up. but before i start a lap, i also try pausing at the wall and just listening to the beep a few times, just to ingrain the beep rate in my brain before i push off. that helps.

after i do a turn at the wall, i often will take my first stroke on a beep to help keep coordinated. you can try that too.
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  #8  
Old 01-22-2010
indysjl indysjl is offline
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Quote:
you can try syncing your kick (if you're using a 2BK) to each beep. that seems to work best for me. i have heard you can sync other movements, like the spear forward but i don't like that as much as syncing the kick.
...Interesting, I hadn't thought about synch'ing to the kick. I was synch'ing to the spear. Now that I think about it, the kick makes more sense, as it is a more impulsive motion than the spear, with is a smoother motion.

I will try both and compare the feel. I'll post my results. Thanks!
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  #9  
Old 04-11-2010
MAH MAH is offline
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My two cents on the syncing of the beep...

I've found that syncing the beep with the grab, where I begin the stroke back, while the spearing hand is reeeeeaching way forward is most advantageous for me because it ensures my full stroke and long glide have priority use of that interval between beeps. Then, as my brain anticipates the impending beep, I can speed up or slow down the recovery-arm and spear-entry to keep sync. This way I do not risk short-changing my stroke and glide, particularly at higher tempos for sprint distances.

At slower tempos I am more flexible with the beep sync, especially when re-syncing after the pushoff from the wall- but then, at slower tempos it is easier to be patient and wait for it anyway! But when I am getting down into fast tempos and near my 'tempo-threshold' (how high a tempo I can hold for 50m while maintaining best form) and I try to sync at other points in the stroke, I notice how I tend to mutilate the quality of my stroke and extension and short-change the glide in order to catch the beat again. That little beep is quite a compelling time-master!

To help me concentrate on good form in these rushed-feeling tempos, it really helps to sync the beat right before the most important focal point of your stroke so you can 'relax' your focus on the beep for a few milliseconds and give that attention to the streamlining moment, and enjoy the long reach sensation.

But I imagine there are a lot of creative ways to sync the beat and highlight new focal points (and a few are coming to mind as I type!) So I stress that I find 'beep-at-the-grab' useful for short-distance, high tempo efforts.

Peace,
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  #10  
Old 04-19-2010
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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I've just got myself a Tempo Trainer.

Do people have two or three favourite tempos they swim at?

I appreciate that making small (e.g. 0.01 sec) adjustments to the tempo can be beneficial when trying to increase stroke rate while preserving stroke length, but any ball-park tempos people use would be of interest.

Thanks a lot

Lawrence
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