Reply To: Progressive Overload, Conceptual Design

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LH Swimmer,

Ya, bodybuilding is overly concerned with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (the pump) to create “volume”.

Training should focus on shifting the power curve of specific muscle towards the optimum point needed for your sport/event. Every exercise can be explosive, aka powerful. When a workout blog refers to “strength” they mean maximum force, everything below that falls somewhere on the power curve. The swimming power curve depends on your needed velocity (sprint 50 to 1650/open water) and the fact that the resistance (water) never changes. If you want to swim a faster 50 (or 1650) you need to shift the power curve towards the specified event by:
1. Increasing mechanical stroke distance and maintain/reduce drag (technical)
2. Increasing stroke rate without decreasing mechanical stroke distance (coordination)
3. Increase energy utilization at the specified velocity (matching sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy to the resistive forces)

Building “mass” is important but generalized. You can build mass in a few swim-specific muscles to improve performance. Heavy leg day builds generalized mass in a way that’s not important to swimming.

I see the roman ropes all over the place now and it’s a bit much. This goes back to CSCSs having the word “conditioning” in their title. If a swim coach thinks thousands of yards in the pool every day isn’t “conditioning” their swimmers and they need CSCSs to program sled pulls and battle ropes something is wrong with the community. CSCSs don’t know what they are doing and are making things up to fill a time block.