Workout Wednesday - 04 December 2013

I thought I'd change up this weeks workout and focus on the warm-up.  I'll still include a full set at the end, but the warm-up is a key aspect to any workout (swimming, biking, or running) and should never be overlooked.  I tell all my athletes - swimmers, cyclists, or triathletes - that if you're crunched for time, skip the cool down.  Never skip the warm up.  A proper warmup not only gets you ready for the workout, but helps you avoid potential injury as well.

The warm-up ensures that your muscles are ready for the main set.  Just as you never simply show up at the track and go right into a set of 400's, the same applies here in the pool.  But what does one include in a good warm-up?

That depends on the individual athlete.  Drills or kick sets might be included.  Some individuals require more yards to become properly warmed up.  Bottom line: Your athletes needs should always be taken into consideration.

So what are good options and best practices for a solid warm-up?  Personally, I like an easy swim, followed by some sets that are tailored to the athlete individually.  For instance:

Athlete 1:
2 x 150 easy on :30 rest.
4 x 50 kick on :30 rest.  With or without fins.
6 x 50 drills (Belly-button swim, dog paddle, Tarzan) on the 1:15 / 1:30.  Shortie fins are good here.
4 x 100 build up last 50 on 2:00

Athlete 2:
300-400 easy swim.
6 x 50 kick on 1:15
8 x 100 on 1:40 descending 1-4, 5-8.

Athlete 3:
400 easy.
6 x 50 kick on 1:15
4 x (75 - 100) on 1:15 and 1:35

The goal of all of these warm up sets is to get the athlete ready for the main set(s) of the day.  And yes, I said "warm up sets".  A warm up isn't just the easy swim at the beginning of the practice - it's multiple sets, incorporating all the aspects required to prepare the athlete physiologically.  This isn't to say that the warm up sets are all easy either.  I see them as a progression - building up intensity where prudent and allowing the athletes to not only get a training benefit from the set, but to also ensure they're ready to move on to the higher intensity portion of the day.

Things can look different during the warm up due not only to differences in individual athletes, but also on the focus in the main set (speed, speed endurance / threshold, or aerobic.)  You would then build your warm-up sets to prepare the athlete for what's coming.  For instance: building up intensity gradually during the pre-sets so the athlete is primed and ready for a speed focused main set.  Or, building up some distances, set by set, so they're fully warmed up for a longer endurance workout.

Additionally, if the athlete requires some work on mechanics, then drills would always be included in the beginning.

With that said, here's a sample workout that I gave one of my athletes last week.  He's a strong athlete, but we're working on some stroke mechanics at the moment.  He has a great aerobic engine, but his top-end speed and speed endurance is a limiter.  This set was tailored for him.  It's SCY, lasts about an hour or so.  The yardage is a little lower, but the quality and intensity is high in the primary main set.

Warm up:
2 x 150 easy on :30 rest.

10 x 50 drills (Two each of: Belly-button swim, dog paddle, Tarzan, fingertip drag, One-arm swim with kick-board) with shortie fins on :45 rest.

Main set:
6 x (3 x 25, 75)
25's on :45 max effort.  75 on 1:00
1 minute extra rest after every two cycles.

5 x 100 pull with buoy and paddles on 1:45

Cool down:
200 easy.

2,400 yards.

Should you have any questions about this set - or any other set that I've published - please feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP.