Four Strokes Coaching incorporates five main principles into our programs. They are workout theme selection, interval training, drills, progress monitoring, and strength training.
Workout Theme Selection
Workout theme selection allows each swimmer to focus on a different aspect of the stroke every swim session. The themes are: technique, power, sprint, distance, and mix. Technique workouts focus on refining stroke form, power workouts focus on building strength in all aspects of the stroke (kicking, pulling, etc.), sprint workouts focus on race pace mentality and speed, distance workouts focus on building endurance, and mix workouts contain themes in addition to alternate strokes to promote swimming efficiency.
The main principle of this entire program is interval training. Interval training for swimming alternates workout intensity to improve the strength of your cardiovascular system. It is more effective than slow and steady workout routines, it has been proven that it burns more calories than lower intensity routines, and it can be done by people of any fitness level since the intervals are customized. During high intensity activity, your muscles are consuming oxygen at a higher rate than the cardiovascular system can supply. This causes your muscles produce lactic acid, which is responsible for the soreness sensation during and after high intensity efforts. On the other hand, during low intensity activity muscles work at a lower level and the body is able to supply ample amounts of oxygen. After implementing interval training into part of your swim routine your body adapts and improves the cardiovascular system to provide oxygen more efficiently to your muscles, which in turn strengthens your heart, increases your speed, and ensures that you can workout at a higher intensity longer.
At Four Strokes Coaching, we have developed a 'threshold' interval, called Critical Swim Speed (CSS). It's an approximation of your lactate threshold speed and you can find it by doing a couple of swimming tests. The lactate threshold is the characteristic kick up in blood lactate when you reach your peak performance level. For swimmers that want more generic intervals, and not such specific ones that the CSS provides, we have also created time tables, so you can pick one from them.
In order to improve overall swimming, proper stroke form is essential. The best way to work on technique is through drills. Drills break down each stroke and focus on certain technique elements that are heard to learn and require repetition to master. These elements include proper arm placement, proper kick, rhythmic breathing, and many more.
Doing all this work with intervals and drills, it only makes sense to monitor your progress. When you are at the gym it is recommended that you have a gym diary where you write down what you did that day so when you look back you can see your progress. Four Strokes Coaching brings the same idea to swimming in the form of a swim log. In this swim log you can add the distance and duration of your swim, along with any notes from the workout. Perhaps you set a new personal record that day! In the same log you can also set a monthly swim distance goal, so you have something to aim for and you stay on track.
In order to build more strength, it is recommended that you complement your swimming with strength training and other cardiovascular exercise. We have also created a set of gym exercises that complement each stroke and work the muscles that you use most.