Unloading Phase

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    Hi Everyone,

    I may have just completely missed it, but I know in bulletin 47 (I think) Rushall mentions a 3-7 day unloading in preparation for a big meet. However I didn’t see anything specific about what unloading for USRPT looks like. Those of you that have been doing this for a while, what did your unloading or taper phase look like?

    Thanks for sharing.



    Not to be a jerk about this. But if you search for “unloading” you’ll see a number of discussions regarding the subject and some ideas regarding “unloading”.

    I’m NOT trying to be a smarta$$. But you are asking guys that took the risks to just give you what they know. Billratio and Kevin and a couple of other guys have worked very hard with the USRPT system and with modifications/experimentation have done very well.

    oldschool aka Doc

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


    I have stayed away from the 2 weak peaking that Rushall recommended somewhere. I think it was Doc who told a horror story about when he tried that. So for my first “taper” we were pretty close to the “3 day protocol” that Doc has talked about. Our big meet starts on a Friday so we go 4 days so that I’m able to tell the swimmers “we’re tapering for a week.” They fragile psyches could not handle it if I didn’t give them that much time at least.

    It depends on the swimmer but we do 50-60% the first day, 25-50% the second day, 25% the third day, and meet warmup the fourth day. I don’t remember the exact percentage but we were something like 85% lifetime bests and 95% season bests. I was happy with it and have used it every big meet since.

    We just had our final JV meet and were 70% best times but that is a small sample size (5 swimmers).

    Note: The percentage means how much we offer for each set (so 24×25 becomes 12×25 for 50%). I cut more than the percentages that Doc recommended because we were offering a ton and multiple rounds last year. “When it doubt, error on the side of rest.” – Ernie Maglicsisilclcho (spelling?).

    "Most people have the will to win. Few have the will to prepare to win."


    Bilratio – thanks for the input, I really appreciate it. Looking forward its nice to have a starting point with what others are doing and adjusting it for our training and kids. Congrats on your JV results and good luck this weekend!

    Doc/Oldschool – thanks for the search feature, I will dig into that. I ask because this is a new training protocol from what I have done in the past, and if people who have gone through it before are willing to share that is great. The worst thing you can do is say no. Any and all input is appreciated, but if people don’t want to share what has worked or what didn’t work that is okay too. Up to this point I have really enjoyed the input from successful coaches and will continue to ask questions if I have them, if those with experience share insight I am one step closer than when I started, if not there is no better teacher than experience 🙂

    Gary P

    I did an 8 day “unloading” for USMS Summer Nationals. I gradually reduced the number of offered reps while simultaneously increasing the rest between reps. 4 days out I started working on replicating actual race strategy. For the 400 free, that meant 400’s broken by 50’s, trying to hit the anticipated splits on each 50 ( i.e., first, second, and last 50 faster than the regular USRPT “target time.”) I did this 3x 4 days out, 2x 3 days out, 1x 2 days out. For the 100 free, I did similar race simulations broken by 25 on days T- 4, 3, and 2. Last day was just a warm-up and 4×50 build.

    Went 18 seconds faster in the 400 than I did unrested 6 weeks before, almost 7 seconds faster than a converted 500 SCY time I swam after a 3-day rest 5 months prior. Didn’t really have a good comparison baseline for the 100, but my time converted to 55.76 SCY which correlated well to my typical USRPT set target time of 14.00/25 yards on 15 seconds rest. I also dropped 1.65 seconds in the 50 free, something I did almost no specific training for, although the baseline was at a meet where I’d already swam the 200 and 500 free same day, while at Nationals the 50 was the only event on my schedule that day.

    That terrible 400 I swam 6 weeks prior convinced me that I needed more unloading than the the 3 day protocol. I was just beat; couldn’t hold pace even though I could see my splits on the scoreboard every 100 meters and knew while I was swimming that I wasn’t close to my expected time. I was also regressing in the number of made reps of 75’s and 50’s at 400 race pace in practice. Undoubtedly, there was some accumulated fatigue, despite the suggestion that USRPT keeps you fresh all the time. To be fair, I probably didn’t diversify my training enough, doing a 400 free set almost every practice, and not including any alternative stroke work.


    I’m probably not the best example as I train for only 50’s and 100’s. I have only had one meet where I attempted a partial rest. It was 3 weeks before my focus meet. The goal was to rest enough to be at least 95% but not sacrifice much in training. The meet was on a Saturday. In the week leading up to the meet I did full repetitions offered on Monday/Tuesday on strokes I was doing at the meet and I cut the strokes I wasn’t doing in half. There is really no training effect cutting the reps in half for the strokes I wasn’t swimming but the idea was to maintain technique. I don’t know if that was effective but it seemed like a good idea. On Wednesday I went to the first fail and cut out all events I wasn’t swimming. On Thursday I cut the offered reps in half. I took Friday off. It seemed to work well. I definitely took a small step back in training by doing this. The first Monday back wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t as good as I had been doing. Tuesday was better and on Wednesday I was right back on track and on the same level I was before resting.

    For a large team doing something like making the first reduction to the first fail might be better than hitting some landmark number like 25%/50% reduction or 15 reps instead of 20. For a large team, people are going to be at different points in the repetitions especially during the middle of the season. If you offer something like 16 reps down from 24 or something like that, one swimmer may complete all 16, while another swimmer fails twice. That’s a huge difference and those two swimmers really aren’t getting the same amount of rest even though they both went to 16.

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