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How To REALLY Develop Swimming Endurance

Building bulletproof endurance is a key component of successful triathlon swimming.

After all, if you can’t sustain your speed, nothing else really matters!

In previous e-mails, I’ve discussed how skills are critical for building endurance.

They help you use less energy.

However, the physical side matters as well, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

When it comes to training, the typical approach is to just go harder and harder in the attempt to get fitter.

It makes sense- no pain, no gain.

Swimming hard and fast works…until it doesn’t.

If you’ve been trying to push the pace on all of your endurance work, I’m going to suggest that you take the OPPOSITE approach if you want to be successful.

You need to slow down.

This is particularly true if you’re not happy with your progress.

I learned the value of this approach the hard way.

Several years ago, I was struggling with my endurance in the water.

I wanted to get fitter, so I figured I needed to work harder.

While it was effective at first, I soon found myself tired, cranky, and failing to improve.

It was frustrating.

I wasn’t sure what to do and was getting ready to more or less accept my situation.

However, sometimes life throws you just what you need, just when you need it.

I happened across an article by a scientist named Stephen Seiler.

He’d done some research across several different endurance sports and had discovered that only a small percentage of the work that elite athletes do is hard.

Most of it is easy!

That approach didn’t make any sense to me, and it was the opposite of what I was doing.

How could easier be more effective??

Well, I wasn’t happy with the results I was getting, so I decided I needed to do something different, anything.

So, with nothing to lose, I decided to give it a shot.

Much to my surprise, it worked!

I started feeling better and my endurance slowly started to improve.

That was a huge learning experience for me that harder isn’t always better.

To help you get the same results, I’m going to show you exactly how you can use the same process.

First, Get Your Skills Right

As I’ve discussed before HERE and HERE, if you want to improve your endurance, you need to improve your skills.

Poor body position in the water is going to kill your speed.

All the fitness in the world isn’t going to be able to overcome poor skills.

You need to learn to use your lungs to float.

You need to learn to use your head to create great body position.

This should be a MAJOR focus of your effort.

Get this right and everything else will be easier.

Of course, working on your skills isn’t separate from improving your endurance.

As I’ll show you, you can and SHOULD incorporate skill work into your endurance- building efforts.

For more on incorporating these skill work into endurance sessions, click HERE.

Then, Swim As Easily As Possible

The first step is to learn to swim easy.

If you can’t swim easy, it’s going to be really hard to develop your endurance.

NO ONE can go 100% for extended periods of time.

You have to learn to swim with as little effort as possible first.

Now, the goal isn’t to swim SLOW, it’s to swim easy.

You want to keep the effort level down so that you can learn to swim in a way that’s sustainable.

How do you do that?

Here’s an example of a set that you could use to work on improving your ability to swim easy AND work on your skills.

The idea is to work on the skills that allow for smooth and easy swimming, then practice those skills while swimming easy!

Just adjust the volume and the distances based upon your needs and abilities.

It’s the concept that’s important.

For more on that concept, click HERE.

Finally, Build the Volume

Once you’re able to swim comfortably and easily, it’s time to swim MORE.

More endurance come from a patient approach to doing more volume.

You have several different options to do more.

· You can swim more repetitions

· You can swim longer repetitions

· You can do a combination of the two

· You can swim more frequently

What should you do?

Whatever sound good to you!

If you like one approach, simply take that.

If you enjoy doing different things, switch it up.

The key idea is to slowly add volume.

How fast should you progress?

Not fast!

Only increase the volume every 2-3 weeks, and only increase it by 5-10% each time.

I know that might seem really conservative but play the long game.

You want to take your time, slowly and patiently adding volume rather than rushing to do more and more.

If you go slowly, you WILL accomplish your goals.

If you go too fast, you might create too much fatigue or get injured.

When we look at sample sets, we’ll use two expanded examples of our first set.

That way, you can see two different options for building the volume.

In the first set, you’ll see that the progression is mainly one of repetition number.

You’ll be performing more repetitions with fewer reminders of the floating exercises between.

This will help you learn how to sustain your skills over progressively longer periods of time.

The advantage is that you’ll get more frequent breaks so that you can re-set, keep your skills on track, and repeat what you’ve been doing.

In the second set, the progression is going to be more about extending repetition distances.

You’re not going to be performing more repetitions, you’re going to be swimming longer repetitions.

The advantage is that you learn to swim uninterrupted for progressively longer periods of time, building your endurance.

In between repetitions, you can check in with your skills, re-set, and get right back into it.

There you have it.

An alternative approach to developing endurance, one that allows you to develop your skills AND develop your fitness over the long term.

Keep it simple…



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