Peak Height Velocity and a short timers experience

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    First time poster. I’ll try not to make this long but I want to share my very short experience with RPT and have a question of sorts or maybe just an observation but rather more of a discussion topic.


    For athletes that have yet to fully mature physically or hit their Peak Height Velocity: Is there any point where the training of the physiological systems need to be maximized with increasing numbers and energy shifts or are the majority of gains achieved primarily through physical maturity?

    If athletes make 1.5-3% gains year over year during physical maturity until PHV is reached then is it worth the time continually pushing that physical training envelope when the boat keeps changing and the majority of gains are because that boat naturally got bigger and stronger? All of doc’s PHV discussion peaked my interest especially considering our experience. Made me think.

    I’ll share our experience to maybe help understand where I’m going with this.

    15 year old son. Last 7-8 years in a TT program, last year and a half in the senior group with zero to terrible technical teaching. The training was classic early 80’s high volume slow swimming with no true taper. Difficult to watch as a former swimmer. With his older brother leaving for college and never reaching his potential we decided to try something else.

    After long course season my boy decided to give high school water a polo a try and I was all for it. Keep him in shape and give me time to figure out what to do regarding his swim training. We decided he would only play water polo August to early November and then target an early December shave meet. That gave us 3.5 weeks to implement some RPT and see what he could do. An experiment if you will.

    He started swim training 3.5 weeks out from his shave meet. I loosely followed a 2 week training template my college son shared with me and took everything else I had learned from this forum in the adjustments I made, length of repeats, length of rest, where to start the numbers and I just felt my way through the taper/unload and finished with the 3 day 25%/25%/meet warmup. Six sessions a week, no doubles. Knowing we only had 3.5 weeks and that he’d been playing polo for 2.5 months I started him out at relatively high numbers: 8x on 100’s, 12x on 50’s, 14x on 25’s and never increased, just maintained for 2.5 weeks. One week out I dropped the numbers by 2 and gave a little more rest to get the speed up for each protocol set for 2 days, third day was doc’s test sets (which we did all three of the Saturdays), a day off then a three day unload.

    Prior to the meet I hypothesized that his 50 and 100 would have the greatest rate of improvement because of his time in water polo. I hoped he could hang on for the 200’s and the 400IM was a shot in the dark but on paper it was his best event so I had to sign him up. Not to mention this was a SCY prelim LCM finals meet so I thought for sure he would die on the long course not having touched a long course practice since July. Boy was I wrong.

    Here were his rates of improvements with the date of his previous best time to current and percentage improvement.

    100FR LCM July 2019 – Dec 2019 3.59%
    200FR SCY Mar 2019 – Dec 2019 .53%
    200BR SCY Dec 2018 – Dec 2019 4.57%
    200IM SCY Mar 2019 – Dec 2019 3.90%
    200IM LCM July 2019 – Dec 2019 2.65%
    400IM SCY Mar 2019 – Dec 2019 4.84%
    400IM LCM July 2019 – Dec 2019 5.40%

    I was floored. Now I was questioning WHY such drastic improvement?

    1. Did a few months of water polo and a few weeks of RPT finally give him enough rest and some fast swimming to finally get him to baseline of where he should have been this whole time?

    2. Is he finally rested from all the garbage yardage and now had enough time to learn how to race and the rest of the improvement came from physical maturity?

    I couldn’t help but think “What if he had had a proper 10-12 week training cycle and could’ve done 1 to 2 shifts?” But then I stop myself and asked maybe this was enough.

    This is where my original discussion comes in for maturing athletes. How much do we really need to push them when so much of the improvement comes from maturity gains?

    I know this is an “n” of 1 but I hope to implement RPT philosophy with a local age group/senior program and am all about bang for the buck. Don’t do any more than you have to.

    I know this forum has gone pretty quiet lately, but I cannot thank you all enough for sharing all your knowledge and experience and yes doc I’m tracking the numbers and letting them talk to me (750 splits recorded).

    This one really makes me think.


    Interesting dilemma isn’t it? Training or growth? It’s both. Not sure you could pin down how much of each contributed to the performance. Just be aware that PHV plays a part in performance in maturing athletes. But once PHV has been reached, it can help with determining direction of training program.

    Yes, they still need stimulus regardless of age in order to adapt. Be it increases in Volume, Intensity or Duration.

    It really doesn’t take much to create adaptation, the stimulus just has to be very specific.

    Do you measure height on a regular basis? i.e. 2x-3x/yr.

    This forum got started by a “n” of one 🙂

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



    Thanks for the response. I appreciate your experience and your willingness to share.

    I have not consciously measured his height for this specific reason until yesterday where both he and his little (13yo) brother went under the measuring tape. A few weeks ago I did download a PHV calculator and look forward to figuring it out.

    The now 16yo did grow .25″ from 9/6/19 to 11/10/19 and another .375″ from 11/10 to 2/6/20 (5/8″ in 5 mos.).

    Adaptation to stimulus is fun to watch and it’s got me thinking on ways to change that stimulus once adaptation occurs. I noticed both back in Nov. and in the last month that his adaptation occurred after only about 3 weeks. This has me wanting to experiment with the length of sets to keep that stimulus changing yet specific (ie change x75im to x150im for 2 weeks then with 3 weeks to shave meet go back to x75im). It’s got me thinking for sure.

    Back to PHV. I’m still wanting to walk the fine line of enough stress (stimuli) on the system to create adaptation but not too much to adversely affect the teenage organism from being successful in recovery, sleep, school, etc. I go back to one of your early comments from your club coaching days of only having the kids do single workouts during the school year due to the amount of life stresses they have and how full their day already is. Why bombard them with filling every hour of spare time with swim training.

    I’m still trying to clarify my thoughts on the vast differences in PHV between males and females and how/when it affects their peak performance in their careers and how to manage effectively. Kinda makes my head hurt. Need more time.



    Recovery i.e. SLEEP is critical to adaptation . There is a study done by Stanford on the basketball team on sleep and performance, it’s easy to find, just do a Google Scholar search. I tried it at GCU with 5 kids from the Distance grp and had really good results right up to finals week and then the whole thing went to hell in a hand basket. Gota study, they had 9 weeks to learn the material!

    Two a days. I now firmly believe is a waste of time especially with developing athletes. It is an old paradigm based solely on volume. How fit does one have to be? An athlete that can do 1000 crunches faster than some one who can only do 900. No, absolutely no correlation to performance. Unless you’re in a crunch contest:)

    You have the means/ways to monitor adaptation and that will be with pace. Say their 50s on 1:00 pace is 30s and over the season they make 120 out of 200 (roughly 60%) offered at 30s. They go to their meet, swim a best time and avg is now 29.27 (new stimulus) That becomes their new trng spd for 50s on 1:00 and they now start the climb back up the hill (numbers) same for any of the protocol sets.

    PHV and women has a huge impact in the training of women. I think an example is distance women come to college that haven’t gone a best time in the 500/1000 in 2 yrs. They still look for the exact training program from a college program that generated no improvement over the last 2 yrs.


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