Reply To: Questions about implementing USRPT.
I came back to competitive swimming at 45 after a 27 year layoff from the sport. Like you, I stumbled across USPRT when searching for a time-efficient way to self-train for high performance. I went “all in” on USRPT for a year, and made tremendous progress. Since then, I’ve diversified my training a little. While I no longer do everything “by the book,” I still use many aspects of USRPT in my training. Here are some of my thoughts:
-For now, keep your rest intervals consistent. Doing the set the same way, every time, is the best way to gauge your progress. When things start to plateau, then you might start tweaking rest intervals, etc. (See the caveat to this advice in the next section.) Forget the breath counting for recovery, use the pace clock or a wrist watch. Also, how are you timing your repeats? If you don’t have a SportCount Finger Stopwatch, get one ASAP.
-Even today, 3 1/2 years later, when I’ve been averaging 5 days a week in the pool for months on end, I’m still usually only good for two USPRT sets in a workout….and sometimes only one. You’re younger than me, so maybe you can pull off three, but I wouldn’t try it at first, and I have serious doubts about whether you’ll ever be able to do 4 and get any value out of the last one. The first set is always the highest quality one. That’s the one you should be most concerned with how the results compare to previous offerings. If you’re going to tweak rest intervals for now, do it on the second and/or third set. Give yourself 5 seconds extra rest, if you feel you need it, to get more quality repetitions.
-Vary the stroke. If all you do is breastroke, you’ll quickly overload yourself. I did it training too much freestyle. You’re not supposed to get much “taper effect” on USRPT, but when I was too narrowly focused, I went 5:27 in a 400 free race, then 5:09 just 6 weeks later after a “taper.” I now to avoid scheduling consecutive long-axis or short axis sets. Since I mostly race freestyle, a freestyle set is usually my primary set. When it is, my secondary set is breast or fly. For you, I would do the opposite. Do your first set breast, then do some free or back.
-Somebody above suggested “training one distance up.” I couldn’t agree more. Even if you don’t intend to race the 200 breast, train for it. It will help you tremendously on the close of your 100 breast.
-I advance the pace when I hit at least 18 consecutive successful reps, or 26 total reps before failing the set. I do make sure I can do it two offerings in a row, however.
To train for the 50, I just do occasional max effort, long-rest (90-120 second invterval) 25’s, and let my 100 training take care of the erst. I figure I’m behind the 8-ball in a 50, anyway, since so much of that race is the start, but that’s nearly impossible to effectively train for as a self-coached swimmer.