Questions about implementing USRPT.

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m a 28y old Swimmer who came back to swimming after retirement. My trainings are mainly for Breaststroke, Mostly I train alone in a public sport center. After investigating some time and searching for the most efficient training program. (PB 50br – 29 100br – 1:04 scm), I have exposed to the USRPT content and it grabbed my attention. I think it suites me the best because:
    1. I’ve convinced this is the most efficient and relevant method of training (I hope to implement it correctly and see the results to prove it).
    2. With a full time job, I don’t have time for 3 hours old school boring and not relevant trainings.
    3. It is very motivating because I can keep track of my times and improvement everyday.

    I have just started implementing the program this week and still learning about how best to implement the USRTP.
    As advised by some people I’ve started with the following papers: – since technique is first priority in USRPT I’ve purchased this.

    I will be really grateful if those of you with more experience can guide me and answer some of the following questions:

    First, can you give me an advice about what are the most relevant papers to read first as a swimmer and a self coach from this source: If there any other sources I will be happy to see.

    Questions related to USRPT:

    1. I have started with a 1 or 2 sets per session (session per day). After I will get into shape what is preferred: increase the number of sets per session to 3 or 4. or increase the number of sessions per week (add morning sessions) and stay with 1-2 sets?

    2. My rep time for 25’s for now is 17sec at 100br race pace (for adaptation, the target is <16). I know it should be rare but if I want to swim 50’s at 100m pace I assume the target time can’t be 34 right? There is a ~1sec turn in between. So If I swim with the same velocity as my 25’s I guess the time will be ~35 seconds, is that right consideration?
    for now I’m doing 50’s only at 200m pace, thats just a thought for the future.

    3. I’m struggling a bit with 10×50’s at 200m pace. I know one option is to increase the rep target time (which will be slower than 200m pace) so I will be able to adapt to the number of reps and then slowly reduce the time per rep as I get better till I get there. Another option I thought about is swim less reps but at actual 200m race pace (for example 3 or 4) and then gradually increase the number of reps. or maybe even do 2-3 sets of 3×50 (then 4×50 and etc.) at 200 pace with rest between sets instead of 10×50.
    Which option is better? Eventually the goal is to be able to do 20×50’s at 200m pace as adviced in the guide.

    4. I know that for improving the 50m race it is advised to make also sets of 15’s. I found it convenient do sets of 20’s meters as I know thats the distance where the red line is at on one side of the pool. at the other side I just guess. It takes me just 4 strokes. So I just measure the time to make a pullout then 4 strokes as fast as possible to 20m. Also sometimes I measure the time to make the pullout alone until my hands are almost at the surface, my best time was 6.5 sec and the distance is at approx. 1 meter before the second red mark of the lane line (not sure about it, maybe its 13 meters I will measure next time).
    What do you think about it?

    5. I train mainly for breaststroke events. Does it make any sense to do sets of any other strokes?

    6. When should I decrease my target rep times? only when I succeed at making the full set without failures?

    7. I thought about adding another parameter to measure improvement besides the the number of reps until failure and the target time per rep. It is the rest interval between sets. I measure my rest between sets by doing bubble breath to the water. 6 breathes is the max which is approx. 20-22 sec. 5 is 17-18 sec and 4 is 14-15 sec.
    So if I do more reps with 4 breathes it is an improvement.
    What do you think about that Idea? or should I be more strict with rest times(15sec for 25’s and 20sec for 50’s)?

    I measure all my times with the sportcount chrono 200 the red model.
    Which allows me to write all the swim and rest times after the workout and manage a training log.
    I have attached an image of how it looks like. I have just started this week so I think it will improve later,
    If you have any thought for improvement I will be happy to hear.




    You can see the image of my workout log here:




    The fact that you bought the technique manual means you’re on the right path. Most of the shorter papers are ideas and concepts from the manual so don’t worry too much about diving into the rest of them for now. Probably the next thing you can do is start watching the “how champions do it” videos. Rushall breaks down each part of each stroke for various swimmers.

    1. I do 2-3 sets per session, 3 times a week. It’s really whatever you have time for. Focus on your core stroke and distance then add things as you get in shape. I used to do sprints first and then longer stuff but for the last year I’ve changed it to sprinting last. 50’s @200 pace then 25’s @100 then 20’s @50 is a typical session progression.

    2. Correct. Add a second for turns. You can always lower the target time next session if you do great.

    3. I prefer to swim 100 and 50 free. When i get back into season I always need to swim 50’s at 200 pace for 2 reasons: Longer work sessions (better VO2max adaptation) and more stroke reps focusing on a part of the technique. Try adding more rest for a few sessions, 30 seconds of rest is still tiring when you are getting back in shape. Hold your target for a couple weeks and lower the rest to 25 then 20 then 15. I didn’t do any sprints the first 2 weeks this year because I wanted to get a lot of technical work in before I started sprinting. Now I swim 50’s every other session and swim 25’s (either 100 free or fly pace) every session.

    4. Looks fine. For breaststroke and fly maybe try this method:

    5. Add stuff when you feel like adding. Fly will help with the initiation and power phase of the breaststroke pull. Maybe do some free sets on days your legs get tired from breaststroke kick. The other strokes are very arm-heavy but Breast is balanced arms and legs.

    6. Higher volume of reps or lowering rest. If you’re doing 25’s on a :30 you can lower the interval to a :25 for a few sessions then lower your target and go back to a :35 interval and work back down.

    7. No need to be strict. Sometimes you need to get more technical volume in and just need some more rest. Sometimes, if I have a nice hard first set I’ll do my second set with 5-10 seconds more rest. Because I know the first set was pretty stressful and I want to get quality volume in. If you are getting ready for a competition then focus on strict rest intervals and lowering them to stress your respiratory system.




    Ok I see what you mean by strict rest in your log. Yes, I would be a little more strict in the session. Your first rest is 16 then you are up to 19 by the 10th rep.

    Essentially, being more strict on the rest will help you better track your improvement.



    Hi Ryanupper,

    Thanks you for all the helpfull information!
    Your advices sounds really helpful and I will apply them in my workout.

    About number 6. Thats a good idea,
    Can you explain more about your decision to reduce target time?

    Last session I was able to complete 30*25br on 17sec and ~20sec rest without pace failures but with 2 bit longer rests (had to breath).

    Im already thinking lowering to 16.8 (maybe even 16.6), So you suggesting do another session on 17 with less rest (15), then start 16.8 with a bit more rest ~25-30 and gradually lower it?




    “Im already thinking lowering to 16.8 (maybe even 16.6), So you suggesting do another session on 17 with less rest (15), then start 16.8 with a bit more rest ~25-30 and gradually lower it?”


    Typically, less rest will stress the central system (respiration, your breathing and the muscles involved in breathing). Swimming faster will stress the peripheral muscles used to pull and kick. So by lowering the rest interval, you’re prepping the central system for when the peripheral muscles demand more energy delivery.

    Then, when you attempt a faster target, a longer rest interval will give the peripheral muscles more time to regenerate creatine phosphate and adapt to the new stress.



    I’m 30 and have been doing race pace for 3.5 years. I’ve had some breaks from training here and there but I have been pretty consistent and have tried a lot of different things. I did alright with the 25’s and three fails method but I really struggled with the suggested 15 seconds rest. I had to do it on longer rest but I had good race correlation with that. The 25 practice pace lines up with the last lap of the 100 adjusted for turn time. So if you train on 17, the last lap of your 100 should be a 17 when your feet leave the wall off of the last turn. Completing 30 reps on your race pace is really good and would no doubt correlate to the race. 30 reps is probably over kill, 20 reps correlated just fine, at least for me anyway.

    Breaststroke is tricky to train. Free and fly seem to be more consistent and more predictable going into a meet. Breaststroke is all over the place for me. Heading into last fall, I put most of my focus on breast in training because I wanted to drop my times but I ended up adding time. My fly times were fantastic though so it wasn’t like I was out of shape or not recovered enough. Sometimes doing more isn’t the answer. I kept it race pace and didn’t do anything slow just to get more yardage in but I was training breast more days out of the week than I had been. I was also doing more sprints for breast which I think messed me up. My best 50 breast times have come from when I was doing limited sprints in practice. It’s weird but that’s how it’s worked for me over the years. However I need to train sprints for free and fly to have my best performances.

    Going into my fall meet my best times in the 50 and 100 yard breast were 27.57/1:01.56 and I ended up going 27.68/1:03.65. I probably could have been a 102 but I knew I was adding a lot of time and that made me die even harder at the end. With the 101 I was doing longer stuff and shorter stuff with the 103 so I decided to shift back to longer rp stuff after flopping with the shorter stuff. When I did the 1:01.56, I was doing 75’s on 10 minutes a couple times a week; usually 3 reps. I would swim it like the first 75 of the 100, going out hard but not sprinting at the end and leaving a little in the tank if I had another 25 to go, just like the way you swim a 100.

    Since longer stuff works better for me, I figured I’d take it to the extreme and just swim 100’s for time and see what happens. I’m a masters swimmer and have nothing to lose if it doesn’t work out. I like trying different things in training so I figured I’d give it a shot. Originally, I was going to try to do it 4 days a week because I was going to try to mimic the Bulgarian method which is for weight lifting. Basically you max out every day which is incredibly difficult but eventually your body adapts and it produces really fast increases in strength after adaptation. I tried, but I couldn’t do it. It was hard doing 100’s on back to back days so I ended up doing it 2 times per week. I train in scm and did these form a push. I would do like a meet warm up beforehand. It was rough at first. My best scm time is 109.4 and I was going 117’s at first but I worked my way down to a 113.5. I also did a little bit of sprinting but only once a week and only 1 or 2 25’s at full rest just to keep the technique fresh. It was more of a confidence booster than anything else because my speed didn’t get worse and it reassured me that my 50 would still be ok even though I wasn’t sprinting much. At my meet a couple of weeks ago, my times were 27.00 and 1:01.20. I should have been under 101 because I didn’t do any turns in warm up and my foot slipped pretty bad on the first turn. It was the first time I had been under 33.0 on the second 50 which I was pretty happy about. Also, I was really surprised by my 50. Knocking off .57 was unexpected and I’m pumped about it, although I wish I was .01 faster.

    You can get faster on limited training, especially with breaststroke. Steve West is the oldest guy to ever qualify for Olympic trials at the age of 40 I believe. It was in the 100 breast. There was an interview, I think it was swimming world mornining show, but he said he only trained 4 days a week when he qualified. The screamingviking is in his 40’s and almost went a lifetime best in the 100 breast training with USRPT on a very limited training schedule. He did by the book USRPT but he also would push a 100 or 200 for time after his set. That was another reason why I decided to just do 100’s for time instead of repeats sets. Both of these guys have great 200’s as well so it is possible to swim fast and get better on limited training.




    Lot’s of physiological concepts in play with your approach. The first time you finished with the 100s you put maximum stress on your system in the shortest amount of time. I call this stressing the entire architecture. This has value when applied correctly. Once you burn your glycogen storage you are done for the day so doing it last is the only sane approach.

    USRPT is good at building the recovery architecture so that you can initiate this type of training. USRPT is also more efficient at high-volume quality repetitions (as you know). So the catch is, do I need to develop my technique or do I need to stress the entire architecture. In reality, you can’t do both at the same time.

    I started taking this approach in the gym (not Bulgarian volume training BVT) but I won’t explain that here. I’ve been squeamish to try it in the pool though.

    A couple ideas:
    1. Training one distance up seems to help stress the respiratory system so that more work at the target distance can be accomplished (VO2max stress begins to develop at about 6 minutes of heavy work). I do 200 pace 50’s every other training session. My 200 pace times haven’t improved but my target times, rep quality, and recovery at the 50 and 100 paces have.

    2. Take a USRPT set to a first failure. Maybe 25’s at your 100 pace with decent rest so you can get 10-15 in. Rest at least 3 minutes (creatine phosphate regen is 65% at 2 minutes and ~100% at 5 minutes). Then swim at 100 pace until failure. Don’t aim to swim 100 yards; just lock the pace in and go until you fall apart. This is a way to focus on technique, stress one part of the architecture, then stress the whole architecture all in one session.

    I probably won’t do number 2, I’m a wuss. It seems like something you would like on those other 2 days.

    Note: BVT actually doesn’t “max” that much. They hit their “true” 1RM every 3 weeks. They do one max rep “training RM” twice a week but most of the training is in the 70-90% max range. In swimming, we have a limited variety of intensities (50, 100, 200 etc.) but we list those as distances. In BVT you aren’t performing a max bench press but only moving it half the distance. The distance is always the same, for every intensity and every lift. So they are hitting a failure point but many times they are using a 3-5RM resistance. Really, weightlifting and locomotive training methods should never be directly compared. Plus, BVT plays almost no role in improving VO2max as performances are only 4-6 seconds long.




    Thank you Ryanupper for this info.
    Thanks Marlin, Story of Steve really inspairs. and good to know that you also doing USRPT and competing at this age, where I live (Israrl) there are not many, maybe only me.
    Yes breaststroke technique is the most complicated in my opinion and happened many times when I was trying to go faster and put more effort but only got slower. With time I’ve learned to pay attention to technical details and not to rush the stroke.

    After today’s traing. I did 50s and 25s for the 200. Im thinking to stop with the 200 and train only the 50 and the 100 race.
    First, I dont really like the 200 and second more important, when I do a slower than 100 pace it feels like the technique is not the same and strugling holding times. Maybe because I engage less muscles or somthing. Or maybe should I swim the 200 at 100 pace.

    So maybe it will be more efficient for me only to train the 50 and 100 paces.

    Another thing, I read a bit about drop dead sprinters and I started to think maybe Im a one. I was always pretty good at sprints and at traditional workouts always slower then everyone else, probably had no energy and slow fibers for those slow long swims. Also my muscles are bigger then others, idk if its relates.

    Anyway Idk if it my shape now but I think that 1 or 2 sets for a session is really enough if do my best.
    At least for now.

    Im thinking about doing one day a 100pace 1 / 2 sets and other day do the sprint USRPT for 50pace. Or 2 days 100 and one 50.


    Gary P
    Gary P

    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.

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