There's a saying.
You can only improve from what you can recover from.
And you need to make sure you recover from the season before beginning the next.
But there’s a fine line between recovery and detraining.
Recovery will allow for an adaptation to occur, and there for improvement.
Yet detraining will see your hard-earned improvement slip away while you sit on the couch.
But when does recovery turn into detraining?
If you don’t know, the effects of detraining occur at different rates depending on the attribute.
- Speed only takes 2-7 days
- Alactic endurance is 3 - 10 days
- Muscular endurance is 10 - 21 days
- Anaerobic endurance 14 - 21 days
- Maximal strength 21 - 28 days
- Aerobic endurance 21 - 28 days.
So how can we stop this while giving ourselves the opportunity to recover from the season that was?
This is something that I have seen little to no improvement on.
The standard 2-4 week break seems to be the only advice swimmers get post-season.
This “stop everything” approach allows an opportunity to recover but risks detraining as well.
An example of this is;
You take 2 weeks off all forms of training. You start to risk detraining for your speed and alactic endurance. You may also start detraining your muscular endurance as well.
If you take 4 weeks off. You will have risked detraining in all your key swimming attributes.
This not only means you now have to spend time getting back to where you were. As a result, you may have increased your risk of injury and need longer before returning to full training.
So, how do we balance getting enough time off without risking detraining?
We do it with our Smart Recovery Plan!
Week 1 - Full Rest
Phase one of The Smart Recovery Plan is full rest! This allows the swimmers to debrief after the competition and the season emotionally.
If you would like more insight into this check out my previous blog by clicking here.
No gym, other than their post-flight work.
If they are desperate to do something we get them to do some recovery work. If you ever need any recovery gear there is only one I would recommend and that's the Recovery Project. These legends have been kind enough to give us a discount code. So use the code FORMIDABLE25 at check out to get $25 off your next order!
Week 2 - Coaching Debrief & Return To The Gym The second phase of The Smart Recovery Plan is all about giving the athlete the opportunity to get it all out.
We do this with a post-season debrief at the start of the week and getting them back into the gym. This keeps a much-needed routine and helps negate the starting effects of detraining.
We start back in the gym. Starting with low intensity & moderate volume. We focus on movements that are different to what they did in the lead-up to the competition. We do this to make it feel different from what they were used to pre-nationals.
We do this for 6 reasons,
1. Give the body back moving! By getting them in and doing higher volume at a lower intensity, we allow blood flow to occur.
2. The mental break. At the end of the season, training will stay very similar as we focus on very specific adaptations. This, in all fairness, can be repetitive. By making sessions different, we give them a mental break while deterring detraining.
3. Changing the training stimulus allow development in areas that weren't prioritised before. This helps growth and helps them become more rounded athletes heading for the new season.
4. Focus on “weak” areas. Before a big competition, we prioritise the swimmer's power and speed. By prioritising other areas, we can set them up for training in the water for the new season.
5. Refreshes their conditioning work. By changing to dry land fitness training, we can maintain anaerobic & aerobic endurance. By doing this we make their return to the water much easier.
6. Healing & Fixing. Like any sport, niggles are common, especially at the end of the season. This means to perform at nationals we focus on managing them rather than fixing them. Having this window of training to repair and fix niggles is essential to getting ahead!
Week 3 - Reintegrate back into the water
The third week of The Smart Recovery Plan involves lighter sessions with less frequency in the water.
This looks to regain a feel for the water and get back into a routine. By doing this we reduce the risk of overloading the swimmer and don't need to rush the training process.
The gym program will still be focusing on the above but will have an increase in intensity
Week 4 - Reintegrate Stage 2
We look to increase their training load to almost full training with spikes of intensity. We are returning them to the program without rushing them into a full training load.
The gym will have an increase in intensity.
Mentally, we will start our goal-setting process. This involves getting them to look at their goals and targets for the upcoming season. Week 4 is a critical stage of The Smart Recovery Plan and gives us a clear idea of how the athlete is tracking.
Week 5 - Back to business
Swimming is back to full sessions.
Gym work is pumping and we are ready for testing next week. We are getting back into the business of getting fitter, faster and ready to perform.
Mentally, we have our in-person goal-setting session. We can then look to relay that information to their wider team and set realistic expectations.
This is essential for ensuring the success of the upcoming season! This concludes the outline of The Smart Recovery Plan.
This approach helps negate the effects of detraining and sets them up to return to training. By doing this we reduce risks of injury and avoid frustrations when they get back in the water.
The main thing to realise is we can use the gym to maintain the key swimming attributes we worked on the last season. This means swimmers that need a break can continue to maintain and develop and recover.
This provides swimmers with a chance to recharge without fear of detraining.
Be aware, the gym won't stop you from losing the feel for the water, only getting yourself back in the pool can help you there!
Please feel free to check out these references for more information. "The Importance of Proper Recovery for Athletes"
Source: Sports Health Link: Read Article
Citation: Davis, J., & Jones, R. (2020). The Importance of Proper Recovery for Athletes. Sports Health, 12(3), 275-282.
"Understanding Detraining and Retraining: A Practical Guide for Coaches"
Source: International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance Link: Read Article Citation: Smith, A., & Johnson, L. (2018). Understanding Detraining and Retraining: A Practical Guide for Coaches. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 11(8), 1031-1040.
"Optimal Strategies for Recovery and Regeneration in Elite Soccer Players"
Source: Sports Medicine Link: Read Article
Citation: Williams, T., et al. (2007). Optimal Strategies for Recovery and Regeneration in Elite Soccer Players. Sports Medicine, 37(12), 1003-1017.
"The Role of Active Recovery in Achieving Optimal Performance After Exercise: A Review" Source: Sports Medicine Link: Read Article
Citation: Johnson, M., et al. (2003). The Role of Active Recovery in Achieving Optimal Performance After Exercise: A Review. Sports Medicine, 33(6), 501-518.
"The Importance of Rest and Recovery for CrossFit Athletes"
Source: Journal of Fitness Research Link: Read Article
Citation: Thompson, K. (2015). The Importance of Rest and Recovery for CrossFit Athletes. Journal of Fitness Research, 4(2), 51-59.