Workout of the Week: Adding Drills During Rest Periods

Rachel Demeulenaere, a cadet from Marquette University, gets in an afternoon workout July 28 at Fort Gordon's indoor pool. Demeulenaere is "shadowing" in the nursing program at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center. (Photo Credit: Bill Bengtson Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office)

When you are focusing on learning skills and techniques, some of the best places to put them into programming is during similar activity's rest periods.

This is especially true for swimming, treading, drownproofing, and life-saving drills. All involve a level of technique and coordination to be able to perform properly, but conditioning and comfortability in the water are equally important. These are some of my favorite methods to mix in skills and drills that will not only help you with building competence in the water but not waste time in between sets resting. Rest with coordinated and easy movements.

Once you learn the technique of swimming any stroke (freestyle, sidestroke, breaststroke, CSS) for the military, law enforcement, firefighter, diving training, now the skills of the test, selection, and job need to be added in order to become competent in what covers 75% of Earth.

Here are some classic activities that will enhance the learning curve of many skills that often get overlooked in training but quickly become a weakness during selection.

Swim Workout – Warmup with a testing event

For instance, warm up with a 500m swim – if you have a swim test in your future, you should make that event your warmup. Getting good at the distance of a fitness test event will eventually turn an anxiety creating test into "just another workout". This will be helpful both psychologically and physiologically by building a base of conditioning that considers a test distance a "warmup".

Swim Workout – Practice Treading (rest with tread)

If you are training to learn the combat swimmer stroke (CSS), and you finally get the technique down but only able to achieve your goal pace for 50m, here is a way to both get in shape for the 500m test as well as practice technique of both swimming and treading (also an event that challenges many candidates).

Swim 500m warmup

Repeat 10 times

Swim freestyle 50m – fast / skip breathe 6-8 strokes per breath

Swim CSS at goal pace

- rest with 1 min treading with no hands

Swim workout – Practice Drownproofing and Other Skills

Depending upon the selection program you are preparing for, you will be faced with many water confidence challenges. Here is a list of 1-minute exercises sets you can fit into the above workout and work on other elements of drownproofing, etc:

Do the following with hands simulated tied behind your back and feet together:

Bottom Bounce, Float, Underwater front flip, backflip, mask pickup with teeth on the bottom of the pool, simulated or partner buddy breathe (one snorkel while treading).

A good quick practice of these events can be done in the 1-2 minute rest periods in between sets of any swim workout.

Another fantastic idea is to add PT / Calisthenics exercises on the pool deck in between sets of swimming as well. You will find swimming will make calisthenics tougher and calisthenics will make swimming tougher, so it is not really considered a "rest". But, if PT Tests are in your future, this is a great way to build muscle stamina and cardio endurance together.

For instance:

Swim 500m warmup

Repeat 10 times

Swim freestyle 50m – fast / skip breathe 6-8 strokes per breath

Swim CSS at goal pace

- Pushups 10-20

- Situps or abs exercises 20-30 (flutter kicks, leg levers, etc)

- If a pullup bar is on the pool deck – add pull-ups OR if not do muscle ups on the pool deck (deep end) where you pull yourself out of the pool and then back into the water as if you were hanging on a pull-up bar.

Cooldown Section of Swim Workout

If you can give yourself 10-15 minutes to cool down from tough swim workout, practice a long period of treading with no hands, treading with fins (great on leg days), and treading with a 10 lb weight. This is also great for loosening the hips after running and leg PT workouts. See treading video.

Adding skills, drills, and techniques that are future testing events to your rest cycles is a time-saving method that will help you really learn how to master these events that challenge even the most capable swimmers.

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Fitness Swimming