Rate Monitoring for Swimming, Part Two
Swimming With A Heart Rate
by Kevin Polansky
- from United
States Masters Swimming
Click here for
Heart Rate Monitoring for Swimming, Part One
By using a heart rate monitor, all swimmers
can more easily determine their specific training level and consequently
produce a desired level of physical fitness.
Having determined your resting heart rate
(RHR) and your maximum head rate (MHR), you can use a few simple calculations
to determine your specific training level. Each level has its specific
benefits. With The help of your coach, you can develop a training program
oriented to your individual distance and stroke preferences.
As mentioned in Part I, the five levels of
training specificity for swimming are:
- Moderate to Easy: 50% to 60% of
- Weight Management: 00% to 70%
of your MHR
- General Aerobic: 70% to 80% of your MHR
- High Aerobic Threshold: 80%
to 90% of your MHR
- Anaerobic or Red-Line: over 90% of
Over the last twenty years, I
have seen numerous training techniques and philosophies come and go
especially in Masters swimming. Since Masters swimming has little or no
research to back our training philosophies, many of us have been training as we
did while competing on the high school, club, or college levels. We often
attempt to continue training with the same intensity that we exhibited in our
younger days. Yet as we get older, we must take into account The aging process.
Using a heart rate monitor will help us to train wilt better results and will
keep us from over-training'.
Yet how can we tell that over-training is
taking place? Very simple. Take your RHR every morning and lock for significant
changes. If your RHR has dropped from the initial monitoring, rest assured that
you are getting stronger and swimming faster. If it has risen approximately
five beats per minute above your initial RHR you may he experiencing the
- Over-training or fatigue. It
usually takes from 24 to 90 hours to recover fully from a workout depending on
the swimmers training levels and time spent In those levels. Obviously- a
swimmer training for only 20 minutes at the Weight
management level will usually recover more quickly than a swimmer training 30
minutes at the High aerobic threshold level
- Health related problems. Watch cut
for sickness, injury, fever, 2nd other stressrelated problems. While
using my heart rate monitor in a workout this post winter, I noticed that my
heart rate was unusually high for a norms warm up I proceeded to have one
of my worst workouts in months. Not only was I unable to swim for long, I was
unable to swim very fast, and I quickly became frustrated. As expected less
than eight hours later I came down with 2 sore throats arid fever which turned
into strep throad.
To train more specifically to
your optimal range, you must monitor your own heart rate ratter than comparing
your efforts with another. Resting heart rate values can vary as much as 60 to
60 beats per minute between two people of the same weight,. height, age, and
sex. Although you may be warming up at the same speed as your partner, you may
be in the easy to Moderate range (5O% to 60% MHR) while your partner may be
swimming at The High Aerobic Threshold level (80 to 90% MHR).
So that you may better understand the five
specific levels of training here is a brief and simple explanation of each:
1. MODERATE TO EASY
(50% to 60% of MHR)
This level of training nay seem to be very
easy and reIaxed. Thats because it is! Unfortunately, many swimmers
believe the misperception that because we feel we are not working hard or
breathing hard, there must riot be any frainir9 benefits. Not
true Exercise physiologists, trainers, and coaches are using this level more
and more due to its warm up and recovery effects.
Adults starting a training program should
begin by swimming at this level- Experienced Masters should be using this level
for warming up, cooling down, and for relaxed recovery swims between or after
very high intensity swims (hi~ H aerobic threshold or red-line swimming).
Generally, 10% to 15% of your training should be at this level.
2. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT (80%
to 70% of MI-IR)
Research has shown that at this level,
your body reaps the benefits of burning fat while improving on your aerobic
fitness. Stoke drills and moderate-effort long swims with shod rest periods are
ideal with this level. Much of your base training in early season should fall
in the Weight Management level.
A good indicator of training at 60% to 80%
of MHR is in being able to talk with your coach immediately following your swim
without having to catch your breath in mid-sentence. Roughly 20% to 45% of your
timing should fall in this zone, depending on the phase of your training
3. GENERAL AEROBIC
(70% to 80% of MHR)
General Aerobic swimming is also known as
endurance base training. At this level, your body produces lactic acid eq 101
to your bodys ability to remove it. Training in this zone will give you
the benefits of becoming fitter, stronger, and faster. Roughly 40% to 50% of
your training should be General Aerobic.
An example of a main set would
be one in which your heart rate would decrease by 40% between repeats.
Depending upon age and fitness level, this may be a rest of 10
to 60 seconds between repeats
4. HIGH AEROBIC THRESHOLD
(80% to 90% of MHR)
During this training zone, your body changes
from aerobic training to anaerobic training. You will feel tile pain of
training hard and experience fatigue, tired muscles, and heavy breathing those
who swim so against clock and are competitive with their fellow swimmers should
train in this and tile Red-Line zones.
During sets at your high aerobic
threshold, you will need more rest to recover from each swim. Your work to rest
ratio might be 2:1 or 1:1. You need riot do much High Aerobic Threshold
training at the beginning of your training season. Near the end of your season,
you may wish to do as much as 5O% of your workout in this and the Red-Line zone
5. ANAEROBIC OR RED LINE
(Over 90% of MHR)
In order to become extremely fit
and to prepare for racing, you must train in this zone. You will experience
oxygen debt as your train your speed (fast-twitch) muscles for competition. You
will feel tile intense pain in your muscles as you give I 00% effort.
Your work to rest ratio will be anywhere
from 1:1 to I :6, or even higher. Since the intensity is so great, you will be
unable to maintain this speed for very long. Like the High Aerobic Threshold
level, you will do very little of this training in early season arid increase
during tapering to roughly 30% or your total yardage, combined with the
My personal experience has shown
that using a head rate monitor enables me to get in better shape faster and
with less fatigue tan in years past. Who knows
maybe it can do the same for you!
THE HEART RATE MONITOR BOOK, by Sally
Edwards. Fleet Feet Press, 2408 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. Very clear and
concise for the beginner!
TRAINING LACTATE PULSE RATE, by Dr. Peter
Janssen. Polar Electro Oy, 99 Seaview Blvd., Port Washington, NY 11050. For the
experienced athlete only who enjoys technical reading. May be beneficial for
the exercise physiologist, but not recommended for the average Masters swimmer.
EVERYONE'S AN ATHLETE, by Dr. Phillip
Maffetone, David Barmore Productions, Box 785, Miller Road, Mahopac, NY 10541.
Offers a well-rounded approach and solid advice for tailoring a healthy
Kevin Polansky has coached high school
swimming for twenty years and was named Colorado high school Coach-of- the-Year
on four occasions. He holds eight Masters world records and ten national
records. He ran the first Masters training camp at the US Olympic Training
Center last summer.