For many of us, 2016 started with a promise – a promise that this year we will accomplish what last year has eluded us. How’s it going – Do you need a push?
Here are 16 strategies for invigorating your goals this year and beyond!
1. Define Your Goal
Write down your ultimate swimming goal! If your goal is to go a best time, what is it? How will you split the race? How many dolphin kicks will you take off each wall and how will it feel? If your goal is more fitness oriented, be specific: Are you trying to lose weight? How many times per week are you going to swim and how far will you try to swim each session?
Read: How To Set SMART Goals
2. Discover What You Enjoy
Increasing your training time is one of the best ways to make significant physical changes to your body. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to do this, and some would rather walk on shards of glass than increase their training volume. The most important determinant of long-term success is how much you enjoy what you’re doing.
Find a routine that makes swimming fun. Explore new workouts, drills and even dryland that will challenge you. If you’re a beginner, almost everything you choose will be challenging, but after a while you’ll begin to find certain workouts more enjoyable than others. Stick with those!
3. Rise, Then Swim!
Swim in the morning if you can, before the rest of the day gets in your way. Put it in your schedule and make plans in the evening so you have to get up!
Bonus: Nailing a morning workout swim your confidence for the rest of day.
4. Be Around Swimmers Whose Goals Align With Yours
Surround yourself with five new friends at the office, school, or in your personal life who are committed to improving their fitness and performance in swimming. People who swim will engage in behaviors that will rub off on you. Similarly, if your friends are a bunch of couch potatoes, they’ll likely reinforce the wrong kinds of behaviors on you.
5. Focus On Technique First
The distance you swim is often just one factor of your swim training. Mastering the proper technique is essential to maximizing your time spent in the water. Good form ensures the right muscle groups are being targeted and reduces the risk of an injury. Read our 10 Steps To Swimming Smarter Freestyle post on how you can improve your freestyle technique.
6. Track Your Workouts With MySwimPro
Gone are the days in which you needed to log your workouts in spiral-bound notebook; today, our smartphone app will handle the work for you with no messy calculations. Logging your training sessions will help keep you on track and motivated. It can also serve as a fantastic way to track how you feel during workouts so you can make improvements moving forward.
7. Follow A Plan
There are a number of variables to consider when designing a workout program. Initially, it’s hard to understand them all, so it’s easier to just follow one of the workouts in our app that we’ve created that closely matches your time commitment, goals, and level of ability. Knowing exactly what you want to do each workout, and why you’re doing it will push you in the right direction better then walking into the pool and mindlessly going back and forth.
8. Focus On Building A Balanced Swimming Program
Many swimmers focus on just one form of training. For example, triathletes typically enjoy running distance freestyle sets. While focusing your efforts on one component of swimming can be beneficial in the short-term, it’s best to mix up your training and work on improving all the stroke styles and ranges of speed (sprinting and distance). Over the long-term, you’ll develop a more refined feel of the water, and reduce your risk of injury. Oh yeah, and you’ll swim faster!
9. Embrace Physical Challenges Outside Your Comfort Zone
We all want to live comfortably, but workouts produce the best results when they make a little—or even more than a little—uncomfortable. Your body adapts to changes when you ask more of it than it’s used to giving. To make improvements, you must push just outside your comfort zone. Adjust your mindset to seek greater challenges over time, and you’ll see your body respond.
10. Gain Knowledge To Swim Smarter
If you’re looking to swim faster, you have thousands of resources to choose from for advice. To keep things simple, start with our 10 Steps To Swimming Smarter Freestyle Guide. Continue to be a student of the sport and seek out knowledge that builds your personal technique and training library.
11. Choose The Right Distance And Interval
This comes back to clearly defining your goal. If you’re looking to increase endurance, you’ll want to do sets that push you aerobically which mean swimming longer distances and intervals with less rest. If you’re looking to maximize your speed and power, then shorter distances and longer rest intervals will provide this gain. Mix it up, but always know what interval you’re running and for what volume.
12. Rest Between Sets
I often see swimmers go through an entire workout without taking any rest between sets. Cutting your rest periods too short means your body can’t recover sufficiently. It also limits your stroke efficiency and speed potential. Exercise scientists recommend that you take about 60-90 seconds rest between sets.
13. Connect With Others On Social Media
Posting your progress and engaging with like-minded individuals can be incredibly motivating. The swimming community is tight knit, and many of the most passionate swimmers are online sharing their stories. Feel free to share your workouts, photos, and swimming stories with us on social media!
When you sleep, your body is recovering from the day. Many will say sleep is just as important as the actual workout you swam. Whether you’re in your best swimming form or working your way to the top, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to face the word with your best effort forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good swimming.
Swimming depletes energy, fluids, and breads down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are a critical part of training and recovery. What swimmers do during and immediately following training determines how quickly the body can rebuild and replenish nutrients. This helps maintain endurance, speed, and form.
16. Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Ever heard the adage that life is a marathon, not a sprint? Well, the same goes with your swimming. Doing a four-hour swim in hopes of getting in-shape faster can do more harm than good—and who in their right mind wants to spend four hours in the water, anyway? Take a more balanced approach to swimming. Commit to training an hour a day or whatever fits your schedule. Your results will be better, and you won’t get burned out!