- Posted by
- Matt Cook
- May 25, 2015 9:00:00 AM
Pool time isn’t just for seniors’ water aerobics and mommy and me classes. Training in the pool can be a great way for athletes to get ready for triathlons. Swimming is an excellent way to get in some high-intensity cardio exercise while also having fun it. It reduces the impact training often has on the knees, it helps with balance, and it makes you feel lighter so exercising isn’t so tough on the body.
However, training in the pool is only as effective as you make it—it’s up to you to find a swimming training program that can give you the results you’re looking for. Use these five tips for training in the pool.
Have a Plan
Swimming for fun can give you a decent workout. But when you’re looking to train for a triathlon, splashing around in a pool isn’t good enough. Before you get into the water, have a session plan. Lay out what you’re doing every day. You don’t want to waste your time on indecision—wondering which strokes to use, which speed to swim at, or how many lengths to do—when you should be spending that time exercising.
Having a training program laid out also allows you to see how you improve over the following weeks or months if you want to keep track of your times. When you have a plan, you can ensure that you swim with purpose.
Focus on Form
Just like any type of training, your form is going to affect the results you ultimately end up getting from your workout. Contract your core during all exercises—keep your abs tight. This will help you balance in the water. But remember to breathe normally. The quicker you move and the more sets of exercises you do, the more you’re going to amp up your heart rate. This can help you get ready for long-distance triathlons.
Stave Off the Boredom
Swimming up and down a pool for hours can get boring. To stave off the boredom and keep you motivated, consider blasting some tunes with an iPod and waterproof speakers. Set yourself small targets during your sessions, like shortening your number of strokes, to keep you concentrated on your exercises. If you think it’ll help, consider training in the pool with a buddy—but only if you don’t think having someone else there will distract you from your goals.
Vary Your Sessions
Swimming every day but only ever gently doing the breaststroke can keep you in shape, but it will never allow you to attain the next level of training. To increase your fitness levels, you have to push yourself and use different techniques. Your training schedule should include speed work, distance work, technique drills, and easy recovery swimming in intervals. Interval-based training in the pool can help you build endurance, help you maintain proper form, keep you rested, and reduce fatigue.
If you’re not sure how to create a swimming schedule that will lead to optimal results, consider hiring a coach to help. And if you can, vary your environment as well—you can use different techniques in a 50m pool than you could in the 25m pool.
You don’t have to wear swim floaties like you did as a kid—but taking advantage of props can help you get the most out of training in the pool. Use a pool buoy between your legs to strengthen your arms since you won’t be able to kick your legs and use wrist and ankle weights to turn your workout into a strength session.