Einstein’s definition of insanity is to repeat the same actions and expect different results, but many of us hit the pool hoping to get fitter or faster without a roadmap on how we’re actually going to get there.
That’s where a swim training plan comes in – it gives you a structured programme of varied workouts, tailored to your specific goal. Here are five ways a swim training plan will help you enjoy your workouts more and make the most of your time in the pool.
1. It will help motivation
A solid plan gives you focus and direction. “You can talk yourself out of things between walking from the car park to the pool. Five sets can easily become four and so on,” says Dan Bullock, Head Coach at Swim for Tri. “If you have something written down staring at you, you have a commitment to finish it.”
2. It stops you from plateauing
Repeating the same comfortable routine, day-in, day-out, means you know exactly what’s coming next. “A planned session with plenty of variety, structure and challenges will fly by. A good one will combine elements of fitness, technique and endurance and be designed in a way to make it interesting and maintain motivation and progress,” says Dan.
3. You can work toward a specific goal
Your goal could be as general as increasing aerobic fitness or something more specific such as swimming 400m within a specified timeframe, or improving a certain stroke. The right training plan will help you achieve your goal through specific drills or cardio work. It will also incorporate the necessary taper in training intensity, so you can maintain your fitness level while giving your body the time it needs to rest up before the event.
4. You can track progress
A decent training plan allows you to set milestones and compare results at different stages of your programme. “You may notice you’re quicker over a set distance, or less out of breath when completing the same distance in the same time,” says Dan. “You can adapt a training plan too, with tweaks like increasing the intensity for certain sets or reducing rest time between sets. If you can hit the same times with less recovery, you know you are improving.”
5. You’ll get fitter
It’s important to use time effectively in the pool – especially when we all lead such busy lives. A well-designed training plan will ensure your workouts vary in intensity which will help you improve your fitness at a steady pace.
“The body responds differently to varying training intensities and a plan will help you use this to your advantage,” says Swimming Coach for triathletes, Abby Boswell. “If you swim a few lengths hard and then reduce effort for the next couple lengths, you’ll develop your aerobic capacity and your body will adapt to tolerate increased intensity for longer. A plan ensures that you add just the right amount of training stress without causing unnecessary fatigue.”
Disclaimer: Always consult with a professional healthcare provider before starting any diet or exercise programme, if you are pregnant or if you are potentially suffering from a medical condition.