Ultra Short… when short of time?????

In the VB RC Philosophy post we shared some of the research (about a zillionth of it!!!!) behind the concept of Ultra Short training. But the tricky bit can be putting the research into practice. At VB RC we have a mix of simple minimum dose sets and some more complex progressions that we do, well, because we can!! Private use of a pool, coach on deck etc mean we can embellish on the simple – that does not mean though that the simple isn’t effective! We still cater for Masters athletes who work for a living and cannot make every session we run, students from the Universities of Bristol and West England, constrained by timetables of study, also athletes based in different cities or countries even!! Either way we make the sessions work for each of them – here’s a taster of some minimum dose response work for swimming short… and fast…

The philosophy post talked about utilising 12.5m (across the width of many 25m pools), although usually this is not a specific option (owing to lane ropes and other swimmers being in the way!!!); however, just because a pool is 25m or 33m or 50m in length it doesn’t mean that we have to swim all the way to the end! So lets assume we are looking at a 45 minute session squeezed into a lunch break and training for sprint Freestyle…

Warm up: Generally with Ultra Short Training we try to make sure that ALL swimming is fast – so warm ups are done poolside or by jogging/cycling to the pool. If the latter is not an option a quick set of 4×20 seconds high knees running on the spot followed by some mobility work will suffice. (5 mins)

Race skill: Underwater kicking is an often neglected part of training – swimmers are usually either good at it (and so do it in training) or not very good at it (so don’t bother). Putting a set in at the start of the session will not only yield race results, but will ensure your legs get a good (specific) work out too: 12x15m fast double leg kick underwater – swim easy to the other end and take 10 seconds rest. Your legs will start to get tired but aim to ignore it and keep the kick fast and quite small, from the hips with the torso and arms fixed. Take a few lengths easy kicking/sculling to recover… (10 mins)

Main work: 30×12.5m (ish!!) full speed off 30. Aim to not include the underwater phase but in order to keep it short and complete a larger volume of surface swimming just aim for a push straight into the 1st stroke (facilitated with 1 double leg kick); alternatively you can swim these from 15m out and go max into the finish!! Throughout this set you will get fatigued initially – so take a break as required i.e. if after 12 you feel number 13 won’t be as good, miss it out, take the extra 30 rest and start again at 14… (try not to repeat this cycle more than 3 times though – once 3 misses have been reached, it’s time for some recovery). (15 mins)

Recovery: kick/plod/scull for 5 minutes or so followed by some more mobility and/or flexibility work. (15 mins)

Total time is 45 minutes – each time you do the set the amount of 12.5s you complete should increase as you adapt to the demands of the set – as will the speed at which you are able to hold! This set can be repeated by swimming a different stroke (4 sets per week) or by repeating the same stroke (up to 3 times per week) with a minimum of 24 hrs recovery between. Give it a try and let us know how you get on…

Obviously with more time in the pool many different training methods can be used to elicit different training effects and these will be explored in future posts, so keep coming back for more VB Race Club sessions…

Please note: There are many variations of Ultra Short work – the above is one example that we use and have interpreted from the work of physiologists such as Rushall. The compendium of Rushall’s work can be found in much more detail than will be delved into in this post here.

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