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How many times a week do TRIATHLETES NEED TO SWIM to get faster?

How many times a week do TRIATHLETES NEED TO SWIM to get faster?

(water splashing) – Whoa, that was a bit of a bear. That was 4200 meters in
an hour 30 on the nose. How much do you need
to swim to get faster? That’s what we’re gonna talk about today. (upbeat music) Alright, Trainiacs, so last night, I met a Trainiac here
locally, solid guy, say Kevin. Sorry if I got that wrong. I got a thing with names. If you ever pick up on me
being like, “Hey, man.” It’s because I am really
good with numbers, names for some reason, not good at. And we talked about how much he’s swimming and he was like, “You
know, I know that you say you should swim three times,
but I live out of town, I can’t swim at all.” I was like, “You know, whatever
you can swim, you can swim.” And it then got me
thinking, alright, how much do people need to swim to
actually see improvements? Let’s get into that. So what we’ve got here
is I created a graph where on the x-axis we have
the number of swims per week. Every dash is another swim per week, so starting at one, going
all the way up to 14, which is what you see Olympic swimmers do, high performance kids are doing that. And on the y-axis we have speed gains. Now, none of this is like,
scientific, but this is general, sort of approach and
guidelines to swimming. Some people might be well beyond this, some people might be well below this, but these are really good rules of thumb to understand how much
swimming you need to do to get speed gains. So this isn’t how fast you can get, this is how much you can
make yourself faster. So this is you against you. This is the difference in how much faster you can make yourself. And what we’ve got here is
I’m gonna map out two things. As a beginner, you’re pretty spoiled. So starting from zero,
basically you’re not gonna get any faster, you’re
not gonna get any slower, so you’re gonna get faster really quickly, basically going from
zero swims all the way up to two or three and then what I’d say is you’ll probably start dipping down and actually making yourself slower. If you don’t have a swim background, past about two, three, four swims a week, you’re not doing yourself any favors, because you only need just a
small little bit of stimulus to make yourself faster and beyond that, you body isn’t adapted enough to have more than three, four swims a week, so you end up doing essentially damage. You’re over-training yourself, but it just takes a
little bit of stimulus. We’re talking like one,
two, three swims a week and you’re gonna get a lot faster. At this level, what I would recommend is going to, and this is a really
intentional series of drills that I’ve put together that are all free. I think like 6000 people
have gone through it. I would start with that,
because it’s gonna give you the foundation of how to progress into what we’re gonna get into
now, which is intermediate. And this is where a lot of
people find themselves stuck. At this level, if you’re
swimming zero times per week or even one time per
week, I would actually say that you’re probably going to
get slower as a triathlete, because the running aspect
of being a triathlete is very corrosive on our body. That pounding, it compresses
our body, it’s very catabolic so it eats away at our
muscles, whereas with swimming, we need to be long, we need to be limber, so we’re not nearly as good a swimmer than just pure swimmers,
frankly because we run. At about two times a
week, there’s a crossover, and that tends to be the minimum
dose just for maintenance, just maintaining the speed that maybe you built up as a beginner here. At three swims a week, you
start having the potential for getting a little bit faster, however, if you’re only swimming
three times a week, those three times a week, like me, they have to be really purposeful. So just going and swimming
three times a week, doing multiple 400 meter or yard repeats or doing 1000 continuous
or 1500 continuous and just swimming a whole bunch of drills and then a whole bunch of steady state to try to build up your endurance, you’re not really gonna
make yourself faster. You’re just gonna kinda work
yourself into this groove of that standard speed, so
you might actually, at three, start leveling off and
going into maintenance. So if you are swimming three times a week, you have to be really intentional. I’m swimming three times a week, that’s why I’ve started subscribing to the Tower 26 workouts, because they are very key, very intentional. At four times a week, you start
getting a fair bit faster. That’s a really key
tipping point that I found about five years ago when I did the first marathon swim we’d ever done. I started swimming four times a week. I didn’t really change a
whole lot with my swimming. I didn’t change my technique. I just started swimming
more and I went from about a 13 high, like a 13:50, 14 minute sprint distance swimmer, all the way down to about an
11:30 in a matter of months, because that increased frequency and not having any more than one day in between swims throughout the week, it really ingrains that muscle memory and that familiarity with the water. You can feel it really
well, so at that point, at four swims a week
and five swims a week, you really start improving. Now, when you start getting
to elite level swimming and you’re swimming six, seven, upwards of 12, 14 times a
week, ends up trailing off. So you might still be getting faster, but you have to work more
and more and more and more as an elite swimmer just to get that little bit of extra speed. So that’s why you’ll see a heck
of a lot of pro triathletes, a heck of a lot of really elite amateurs, swimming somewhere in that range of four to (heavy breathing). So that’s why you’ll see a
lot of really elite amateurs, some pros swimming somewhere in that four to six times per week,
’cause it’s a really good return on your investment as far as
time spent with getting faster. So now here’s the thing, what if you’re a guy like Kevin yesterday
that he can’t swim? Don’t worry about it. That’s the thing about triathlon. I think that everyone
is maybe misinterpreting when I say you really have
to swim three times a week. I don’t mean you have to
swim three times a week or you must swim three times a week, or four, five, six times a week. It’s just that you need
to understand where zero swims a week fits into
life and your expectations, where three, four, five swims a week fits into your expectations
and if you can’t do it, don’t worry about it. Like if you literally can’t
do it, you can’t do it. I’m not gonna judge. Why the hell would I judge that? I’m just here to tell
you where that fits in. You swim as much as you can. The more you swim, the faster you’ll get, but we’ll still be pals
if you’re only swimming zero, one, two times a week. You’re still my Trainiacs, damn it. So, there you go, Trainiacs. That is all for today. We are airing out the garage right now. If you aren’t yet subscribed, hit that subscribe button below. If you are subscribed and
you like answers like this, if you like that little
screen grabby thing that I do with the iPad,
hit the like button. Also, check out the
Triathlon Taren Podcast. It is the most reviewed
triathlon podcast in the world. Later.

6 thoughts on “How many times a week do TRIATHLETES NEED TO SWIM to get faster?”

  1. All this swim talk, when those who really know, know it's about the bike! #Rideon #Ridemore #Ridestrongrunstrong #tongueandcheekbuttrue

  2. Hey Taren, question for you: is it possible to increase n° of swims per week during the off-season for example, to get speed gains and come training/race season reduce that number just to maintain that speed ?

  3. I do 2 intense 1500-2000yd sprints with pushups and air squats in between and 1-3 Long-slow distance swims 2000-3000 ish yards. I’m a crossfitter and only do this near the games..

  4. Mr Taren you’re awesome. Just like you won’t judge. I won’t judge. But no need to be mad at sweet little mistakes that happen in the device. These can be funny. Just a piece of advice from a fan ^^ take care sir

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