Updated: Mar 11, 2019
When it comes to strength training for sports and endurance athletes.. it really is a matter of "go big or go home!"
“ If you want to strengthen your kick, simple, kick more, but not just a few hundred metres.”
It is entirely possible to do your strength training in or out of the gym. I am a level 4 strength and conditioning coach and have over 15 years’ experience as a Personal Trainer working in gyms, so I can totally appreciate and understand the importance of strength training for endurance athletes, but I am also realistic that it’s hard to fit in all the other training sessions without having to spend even more time in the gym lifting weights.
Strength training is all about building a stronger, faster machine to train and race with. It is also one of the best ways to prevent injuries, so it plays a HUGE part in having a successful season.
So, in this chapter I will be talking mainly about how you can add strength training into your sessions that you already do!
If you have ever used paddles you will know that they help you go faster 😉, but they also serve a purpose to add resistance to your swim stroke. Make sure you’re using them for more than 50% of your workout for the real effect. If your total swim set is 2000m make sure you swim at least 1000m of it with the paddles on. Also use the leg buoys more! By minimising your kick, you are adding more stress to the upper body, allowing you to reach overload and fatigue in the upper body much more quickly. This also goes for kicking. If you want to strengthen your kick, simple, kick more, but not just a few hundred meters. Build it up like you would the paddles to a sizable amount, 50% of your workout. If I was doing a kick session, I would only swim a total of 1000m -1500m and kick for maybe 500m - 1000m (not in one go obviously, I would break it up into 100’s or 200’s but you can start as little as 50m and keep adding as you get stronger).
“Find a hill and rep it until it's flat.”
Over-gear efforts are the answer to this. This was introduced to me by my legendary coach, Bella Bayliss. These really work and can be done indoors on a turbo or outside, even on a flat road. We must be pretty creative, living and cycling in and around Cambridge 😉 The aim is to get your intensity as high as you can with the lowest RPM possible. Usually aiming between 50-60rpm for each effort. Let us also not underestimate the power of a short, little hill. Done at a high enough intensity and done enough times, done properly your legs will feel like they have climbed the biggest mountain ever! NO GRANNY GEARING! In a race maybe, in training HELL NO, go hard and go heavy.
Lots of reps at a high intensity, like sprinting up hill, with a high, fast cadence. Find a hill and rep it till its flat.
Be careful you don't end up running too much on my tippy toes, you are more than likely going to land more front foot and that's not a bad thing, BUT take extra care if they begin to tighten up, stop and stretch if you need, and most certainly add extra calf stretches post workout to help keep those nasty calf injuries at bay.