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Using Resistance Part II

If you're sold on the value of using resistance for skill development, let's take a look at the best way to put it into practice. Follow these guidelines, and you'll be golden.

Guidelines for Using Resistance

Resistance work is not without its potential problems. Although it can be incredibly effective, it’s probably has the most potential to WORSEN your stroke. While this potential exists, it can be easily combatted with some simple strategies that will ensure you’re using your resisted swimming for good versus evil.

Choose the appropriate level of resistance. One of the best ways to ruin the impact of resisted swimming is to use too much load. You want to create enough load to enhance the pressure you feel when you’re creating propulsion with your arms or your legs. That’s it. Remember, this is skill work, not strength training. While these same devices can be used to develop strength in the water, that’s not what we’re focused on here.

How do you know if the resistance is too high? If you’re not going anywhere, the resistance is too high. If you’re body position is completely out of alignment, the resistance is too high. If you feel completely out of control, the resistance is too high. Trust yourself. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Keep in mind that it will feel different, especially if you’ve never used it before. However, different is not the same as wrong.

Are there times when it’s okay to answer yes to these questions? Sure. However, I would not suggest you do so unless you are doing so for a VERY specific reason and you know exactly what you’re doing. Play it safe, be smart, and more is NOT better.

Keep track of your stroke counts. When you’re wearing any sort of resistance, it’s important to keep an eye on your efficiency. If you add resistance, your stroke count is going to go up. That’s okay. However, you always want to minimize the increase in that stroke count. If you’re only adding a small amount of resistance, your stroke count shouldn’t double.

More so than regular swimming, it’s possible to increase your stroke and take more strokes to go fast when wearing resistance. To some extent, resisted swimming can reward this strategy. However, this is exactly the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. The goal is to hold MORE water, not less. Slow it down, take patient strokes, and make sure you’re in control of your stroke count.

There is a time to let the stroke count creep up. However, this needs to be a conscious choice, and like we discussed earlier, those extra strokes need to be worth it.

Start light. The best way to manage resistance loading is to start with less. Use as little resistance as possible to get the enhanced sensations of pressure. Once you can feel the increased feedback, master that level or type of resistance. When you feel you need a change to further promote learning, change it up or increase the resistance as appropriate. Simply repeat the process. Patience pays.

Slow it down, then speed it up. Resisted swimming is appropriately associated with short sprints. Avoid the urge to start off going too fast while using resistance. As with all of our tools, the focus is on going slower at first, paying attention to what you’re feeling, and then ramping up the intensity and the speed.

Be patient and tune in to the information the resistance is providing you. When you feel like you’ve picked up on something, increase the effort. Then go back to more patient swimming. Oscillate between intent and effort.

Next time, I'll show you how to TRAIN with resistance.

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