strength and conditioning

Why Ruthless Performance Doesn’t Emphasize Energy System Training for Our Swimmers

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Outside of a handful of technological advances in competition suits and some isolated factions of coaches and athletes, the sport of swimming is largely stuck in a late 90’s – early 2000’s mentality; which is a generous approximation on my part, as the sport of swimming in the 90’s-00’s wasn’t all that much better from the handful of decades preceding it. This old school training mindset included a great emphasis on high yardage in the pool, followed by a big taper leading up to important and championship swim meets.

 

The high yardage/ big taper approach certainly has its applications, but much like how swimmers took the alleged 10,000+ kCal ‘Phelps Diet’ leading up to the 2008 Olympics as an excuse to overconsume and under-nourish with empty-nutrient and calorie-rich foods, braggadocios swim coaches have hijacked the good intent of high-yardage programs, and now misinformed coaches are globally vying for title of who can put their athletes through the most pain.

 

Since the semi-archaic idea of mega-yardage programs still have some merit, I’d like to focus dryland training, the dated and frequently perpetuated fallacies surrounding this, as well as what Ruthless Performance does with our swimmers and what other high-level programs are engaged in from a strength training perspective.

 

This well-known Ruthless Performance philosophy regarding dryland training for swimmers leads many concerned parents and swim coaches to ask the Ruthless Performance staff about our programs. Since swimming requires so much cardio, shouldn’t that be a main part of dryland training?

 

Simply put, no. But here’s the longer answer…

 

In the past, dryland training has mirrored pool-based training very closely. This would include ideas like distance running and other high intensity-based conditioning routines (and if you’re lucky, some lackadaisically performed, poorly designed rotator cuff band complexes). Not only is this additional energy system training unnecessary (during the in-season), but it can also be burdensome, ineffective, and at worst, harmful to performance.

 

One of the main reasons we don’t program a large amount of energy system training in our swimmers’ training programs is because of the sheer volume of energy system work that swimmers get while in the pool. Most swimmers can get through a large part of the warm-up without realizing that they are engaging in conditioning already. Add the various work sets done through a workout, and then repeated on a nearly daily basis, and you have a recipe for fantastic cardiopulmonary function and sport-specific energy-system development.

The problem is that coaches too frequently confuse the cardiovascular demands of the sport of swimming with the cardiovascular demands of swim practice.

Running is one such frequently assigned dryland activity for swimmers, used as a means of developing cardiovascular function. This is in part, due to the perception that swimming is a sport which requires a lot of cardio—which it does. The problem is that coaches too frequently confuse the cardiovascular demands of the sport of swimming with the cardiovascular demands of swim practice.

 

Adding more conditioning work on top of what is done in practice is simply providing an athletes cardiovascular system with diminishing marginal returns on ability to practice; this is largely ineffective because of how quickly the cardiovascular system responds and adapts to training stimuli. A few weeks of pre-season practice and a base level of cardiovascular function is restored to the point where an athlete can successfully compete at meets and return to more rigorous in-season training. Since most events are over in less than two minutes, this style of dryland training can become redundant and inefficient.

 

Adding running or various other conditioning modalities on top of traditional in-pool training can yield greater performance; just not as great as swimming performance could be if we focused on some other modalities and training tools. This is a conversation for another day entirely, but all of the strength-based training that we have our swimmers perform help in a variety of ways. Our strength training does, in fact, enhance energy system capacities, specifically the phosphocreatine (quick anaerobic energy system pathway). This is the system which leads to faster starts, quick turns, breakouts, and even negative splits in distance events.

 

All this to say that strength training with minimal traditional cardiovascular input is the primary way we train our athletes and for good reason. Rather than simply packing on additional volume of similar work, we are building up muscles which help prevent overuse injuries, minimizing the impact of training stressors, improve reaction time, coordination, catch in the water and so on. This allows athletes the opportunity to train more optimally in the pool, which is the primary vessel for developing skill-specific capacities in swimmers.

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 41

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

The Complete Guide to Dynamic Swimming Warm-up for Swimmers via COR

Reverse Engineering The Plank By Charlie Weingroff

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

The surprising truth about sugar.  By Brian St. Pierre & Krista Scott-Dixon via Precision Nutrition

Artificial sweeteners fail dieters; cause health risks By Buddy Touchinsky

Hack Your Mood & Optimize Your Sleep By Ben House via Onnit Academy

5 Life-Changing Nutrition Tips for New Moms By Jesse Mundell via Girls Gone Strong

 

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So You Say People Who Don’t Squat or Deadlift will End Up Broken…  By Lee Boyce

5 Keys to Training Success By Mike Robertson

 

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Four Apps That Improve My Business and Lower My Stress  By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

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Featured Fitness Content: Volume 40

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Trouble Shooting Your Program: 5 Powerful Principles for Better Adaptation By Jeff Moyer via Just Fly Sports

Perceived Value and the Fitness Industry By Dean Somerset

You’re Supporting the Get Rich Quick Schemes of 21 Year Olds, and It’s Ruining Fitness By Lee Boyce

Online Coaching: Past, Present and Future By Mike Robertson

 

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Having low blood pressure also carries health risks By Buddy Touchinsky

 

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Must-Follow Guide for Strength Training AFTER Physical Therapy  via COR

 

Research

The No Barbell Experiment On Squat And Deadlift And Hip Thrust Strength  By Bret Contreras

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 39

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Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Interview with Lee Taft on Coaching Agility, Speed and Athletic Movement By Joel Smith with Lee Taft

Why I Don’t Like Scap Push-ups By Eric Cressey

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

How Much Cardio Do You Need To Get Ripped For Summer?  By Sean Hyson via Onnit Academy

A Really Bad Long Term Strategy for Weight Loss By Mike Roussell

Doctors should emphasize exercise, not weight loss By Buddy Touchinsky

 

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8 Mobility Moves For Better Squatting, Pressing, and Pulling By Mark DiSalvo via Onnit Academy

7 Tips for a Bigger Bench  By Bret Contreras

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5 Powerful Life Lessons From the Book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss By Liam Seed via Addicted 2 Success

How To *Not* Be A Spineless Leader By Tim Denning via Addicted 2 Success

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6 Hip Mobility Drills Everyone Should Perform By Mike Reinold

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Effects of Alcohol on Performance

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Consuming alcohol has been a tried and true means to bring people together to come together in a time of enjoyment and relaxation. In moderation, alcohol can be a good way to relieve stress from high intensity sports or exercise, and can bring teams closer together through group bonding; yet sports performance and recovery has been shown to be inhibited by a number of reasons.

There are numerous statements and opinions out there in the public that bash alcohol in regards to athletic performance. But is there evidence that supports this? The literature says yes.

When ethanol, the main type of alcohol found in beverages, is broken down through metabolism, reactive oxygen species have been found in the liver. These reactive oxygen species promotes inflammation around the body, which shows the body’s response to harmful products in the body. This indicates that alcohol does have negative effects on the body. In regard to sports performance, alcohol stimulates many inhibiting processes, such as inhibiting calcium uptake. With a lack of calcium uptake, muscle contractions and strength output are impaired. Dehydration is widely recognized as a possible effect following alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been shown to inhibit an anti-diuretic hormone, thus promoting a loss of fluid through urination. Alcohol also has been shown to be a vasodilator as well, which increases fluid movement around the body, and thus can be another complication in dehydration through evaporation.

For recovery, the big inhibitor is protein synthesis. Alcohol suppresses the pathways that synthesize protein in the body, resulting in depleted muscle growth. Another inhibitor is glycogen reuptake. After a workout, the muscles are depleted of glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose, and the alcohol consumed can take the place of the carbohydrates being broken down to glucose. Thus, muscles are not able to recover to their full potential for the next workout, and they are not able to grow to their full potential through a lack of protein synthesis.

There is a level at which a majority of these inhibitors commence. A drink here or there won’t necessarily promote a drastic drop in performance, but consistently reaching that intoxication level around 0.10 BAC will show drops in performance.

alcohol stock photo 2

 

Vella, L. D., & Cameron-Smith, D. (2010). Alcohol, Athletic Performance and Recovery. Nutrients2(8), 781–789. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu2080781

 

By Daniel Goebel

Daniel received his Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College. Daniel played baseball at Westmont. Daniel currently works at UCLA as a Performance Nutrition Intern assisting in distributing planned meals and recovery snacks, body composition evaluation as well as creating education material. Daniel is working towards his Register Dietitian license. Daniel is a member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 37

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Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

The Most Versatile Training Tool of All Time: Hills for Strength, Speed, and Endurance Via Just Fly Sports

5 Essential Athletic Assessment Skills By Joel Smith

My new favourite exercise: Half-Kneeling band Pallof press By Elsbeth Vaino

Fix Your Push Ups and Planks with the Foam Roller By Joel Seedman

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Move of the Week: Resting Metabolic Rate By Jeremy Lau via HalevyLife

The surprising truth about sugar. By Krista Scott-Dixon and Brian St. Pierre via Precision Nutrition

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Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Best Lat Stretch Ever! By Diesel Strength

Why Stretching Something That Hurts Isn’t Always The Answer By Nikki Naab-Levy via Girls Gone Strong

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 36

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**Editor’s Note: Since The Fitness Resource merged with Ruthless Performance, we will be continuing TFR’s ‘Featured Fitness Content’ on our site. Be sure to subscribe to get the best content in health, fitness, and human performance delivered to your inbox every week.**

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Considerations for Masters Lifters Via Juggernaut Training Systems

The Fallacies That Dominate Youth Athletic Training  Via Breaking Muscle

Do You Know What Your Core Really Is And What It Does? Via Breaking Muscle

The “Crowd” Wants Sets & Reps But Coaching MUST Go BEYOND Sets & Reps By Zach Even Esh

Fastpitch Friday Ep.28 Strategies to Avoid Low Back Pain for the Trap Bar Deadlift By Nancy Newell

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Why Liver Is a Nutrient-Dense Superfood By Alexandra Rowles via Authority Nutrition

10 Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice By Alina Petre via Authority Nutrition

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

[VIDEO] Maximizing the Deadlift Warm-Up By Dr. Quinn Henoch via Juggernaut Training Systems

Step Up Your Glute Game With This Goblet Variation By Meghan Callaway

Busting the High Bar vs. Low Bar Squat Myth By John Rusin

Train Harder & Recover Faster with Concentric Only Training By Justin Ochoa via Dean Somerset

Strength Training Methods for Distance Runners via HMMR Media

This Is The Single Responsibility of Your Core Muscles By Harold Gibbons

 

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The Biggest Problem For Personal Trainers By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

45 Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way… By Pat Rigsby

MF’s 15 Business Principles By Mark Fisher via Business for Unicorns

5 Ways To Consistently Finish Anything You Start By Denise Damijo via Addicted 2 Success

 

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Improving Shoulder Motion: Lat Inhibition By Dr. Quinn Henoch via Juggernaut Training Systems

Cossack Squats: Breaking Out of the Sagittal Plane By Dean Somerset

 

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Low-carbing for endurance: the oxygen problem By Kamal Patel via Examine

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