Issue is Progression

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    I really learned about the “usrpt / parametric training system through another user here in the forum. I’ve studied it for about 12-13 years now. Yesterday, I started reading all of Dr. Rushall’s articles, I read a lot of them. I was at a coaches presentation when he really just got started with USRPT and it was so far from where it’s now become, it was a concept, but not really usable, but it’s still missing a big piece which is called “progression.”

    I’ve watched some guy on a Youtube video say, well let’s do 4-5 x our race distance in 25’s. The problem is that we’re over training right off the bat! You’ve got to progress to 20-24 x 25’s. I thought of this because I’m ending my first week of the “unloading / taper / rest / phase 2 / what ever you want to call it” of our season prior to Senior States. So far here are the sets we ran this week, these are also the sets we started with on May 2nd. I’m going to try to create a chart to describe the progression.

    Protocol Set: Starting N x Highest N x Ending N x
    n x 25 @ 1:00 8 20 8
    n x 50 @ 1:00 6 12 7
    n x 50 @ 2:00 6 12 6
    n x 100 @ 2:00 5 10 5

    Primary / Secondary Stroke:
    n x 25 @ 1:00 8 16 8
    n x 50 @ 2:00 6 10 6

    n x 100 @ 3:00 4 6 4

    Start with the minimum each season, as the athletes seem to be able to make all of their times or even push their goal times even faster, I increase the number by 1 or 2 repeats, sometimes this happens in two weeks sometimes it takes a month, I just look at the numbers and let them decide. I never add more than two repetitions. During the start of the unload or rest phase, I say something like the following, “We just finished doing 12 x 50’s @ 2:00 last week, now we’re only doing 6, what should happen?” When N x drops, so too should the times.

    I have not seen anywhere in Rushall’s explanation on how to set up a USRPT program the word progression. I understand maybe some of you offer 20, but you may use the miss / fail method and then they only end up doing 6-8 anyhow, why not just schedule 6 or 8 and make them do them at pace. I don’t offer a failure method, because if you have an athlete who wants to bail that day, they’re out, at least this way they can still get the repetitions, maybe just not the intensity. As an athlete if I knew my coach scheduled 20 and I’m not completing half of them, I’m wondering what’s going on!

    USRPT / Parametric training is intense, both from the physical and mental standpoint. Don’t over stimulate your athletes, they can only handle so much at a time. Vern Gambetta, great strength and conditioning coach once said, “Coaching is not something we do to our athletes, it’s what we do with our athletes.” Think about lifting weights, most of us have used the old bench press standard. Start with a weight until you can do 8 reps, if you can do more add weight, repeat! Best of luck!

    ? Practice Technical Skill's and Make Fast a Habit!


    Some thoughts not really directed at anyone, just thoughts.

    Why even set a number? Why not just have their “training pace”, an example might be 2nd 50 of 100 for “50s on 2:00”, see how many they can do at that pace. Track the number done and after a couple of times through the set they will develop an average number made for the set. (Hint: Excel) Then use the average number as a guide for increases and say “try for two above average” for some with an average of 4, they go for 6 and others may be going for 8, just depends on their average. I think that more closely follows the Principles of Progressive Overload and Specificity and would also allow for better individualization. Whether we like it or not, if you have 20+ kids in a group you have 20+ individualized adaptation rates.

    I’ve actually being doing this with the kids this summer and at first it was sheer mental anguish on their part! They were so locked in on having a number 16 x 50 on 1:00, and when it was just 50s on 1:00, lord you would have thought the world was coming to an end. The number of times I had the question “How many do we have to do?” was mind numbing. I just kept repeating “as many as you can at that pace” Guess what they actually got the hang of it. Now they just come in look at workout, see how many they made last time and get in and try to improve on that number. They have really taken ownership of their work.

    just thinking

    ? All that is not shared... is lost.


    Doc, great idea, I did it this morning although I had set the goal pace’s much higher since we are starting to rest. Our main pace set was N x 50’s @ 2:00 Free. With that being said the most anyone made was 7 anyhow, but that was the eventual goal and it really created a challenge to the athlete.

    ? Practice Technical Skill's and Make Fast a Habit!


    How did your season turn out? What do you think the impact was of making the swimmers do all the offered reps instead of the failure method? I’m interested to find out if the pace that they were supposed to hit correlated to race time even though they went past failure.


    I used rest time progression with my team. Starting with 60s for 25m reps or 90s for 50m and than went down gradually to 20 and 25s.
    Another option for progression would be to add stress during rest by solving simple tasks.


    They still do the failure method. We have moved away from three in the set to they have to miss two in a row. Didn’t phase the kids one bit, and it took them about 2 days to adjust and 2 in a row became the norm.

    The challenge is there has to be an objective pace time and not the usual “I want these at back 1/2 200 pace”, most swimmers left to determine this will be anywhere from .8 to 1.5, off what they should probably be holding. If they have a time that was generate by THEIR best time posted in front of them, then efforts take on a whole new meaning.

    I wish the good Dr. had never posted numbers. I know why it’s done. But it defeats the whole purpose.

    Just a side note. We’re starting to get the kids back from summer and I’ve met with about 1/2 as of now and almost to a swimmer they are glad to be back. The most common comment was been ” I really missed the pace times. It gave me a focus and I knew I had to hold that pace in order to improve”. They commented ” I was lost not knowing and just swimming back and forth didn’t really do anything for me”. Yes, they did a lot of WORK, won’t argue that. The problem is it’s not specific enough. Yes, it’s a royal pain in the !@# that you have to treat them differently than the 13 year old’s in the group. But if someone told you coaching was easy. They lied 🙂

    P.S. We had 82.72% LTB this summer from the kids that stayed and trained with us (no brag, just fact). One was an Olympian that swam a best time in her event at RIO after swimming a BT, just 2 weeks before.

    Just some thoughts,


    ? All that is not shared... is lost.

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