Improve your swim performance

For most athletes, the swim can often be the least trained and most disliked discpline of a triathlon. With this in mind we recently spoke to #HIGH5fuelled Matt Trautman to get his advice on how to improve the swim section of your next triathlon.

hever_2016-4As a triathlete, squeezing in three different disciplines whilst juggling work and family commitments means you have to be very smart in how you allocate your training time. While the swim may be the shortest discipline and most people’s least enjoyable part of a triathlon, it is critical that you have enough swim fitness so that the rest of your race isn’t ruined before it really begins. Ensuring you aren’t overly fatigued when you leave the water will make a massive difference in being able to ride and run to your full potential.

For age group triathletes, the water temperature needs to be above 24°C before it becomes a wetsuit illegal swim. It means there is a pretty high chance you are going to be donning your neoprene come race day, and im_2in the tropical climates with warm water temperatures the swim is more often than in the sea. The wonderful thing about a wetsuit or swimming in salt water is that you are more buoyant, meaning you don’t have to kick as much so you can preserve your legs for the all important bike and run sections.

So how do we enhance our swimming? Quite simply you need to spend as much time as possible practicing and swimming your race stroke. This may seem obvious, but you still see numerous age group triathletes who are only able to swim 2-3 times a week spending half of their session doing kick sets or working on drills trying to get a ‘feel’ for the water.

A strong leg kick is not a top priority in a wetsuit legal swim. It gives you minimal propulsion and also fatigues those valuable leg muscles before the bike/run has started. Swimming as fast as possible with as little use of the legs should be a priority as a triathlete, especially over the longer distances.  Besides there being a very small chance of getting a good ‘feel’ for water, triathlons are not raced in a pool. Open water swims will be choppy if not from wind and waves then definitely from the hundreds of other competitors around you. Any chance of feeling the water and swimming smooth goes straight out the window.

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Building upper body strength and resilience to complete a long distance swim comfortably, takes time and consistency in the pool. In order to put in the necessary mileage in the pool without getting overly fatigued, there are numerous swim aids you can use. The most important for a triathlete being the pull buoy followed by hand paddles. A pull buoy helps you focus on your stoke without the added stress of trying to stay afloat. It also mimics the body position you’ll have when wearing a wetsuit or even in a salt water swim and minimizes the propulsion you get from your leg kick.castle_series_howard-87

If you are new to swimming or even if you are a very experienced triathlete, doing the majority of your swim workouts with a pull buoy in place is not a problem. If it makes your swimming more enjoyable and means you’re spending more time in the pool, then even better!

There are numerous beneficial swim workouts you can do. If you don’t have a coach, then check out some of the hundreds of sessions that can be found online. The main thing is finding consistency and a swim rhythm that is going to propel you to a comfortable and hopefully fast swim time.

Mixing up aerobic swim sets with anaerobic (sprints) and strength (paddles) work during the week, or even within a session, will be beneficial and stop you from plateauing.

Here is a simple aerobic swim set that will help develop your pace awareness.

Warm Up: im_1-cropped
  • 8 x 25m (3 easy / 1 fast, 3 easy / 1 fast)
  • 6 x 25m (2 easy / 1 fast, 2 easy / 1 fast)
  • 4 x 25m (1 easy / 1 fast)
  • 2 x 25m (both fast)

10 second rest between each 25m, Pull Buoy optional

Main Set:
  • 2 x 400m paddles/pullbuoy. 70% effort
  • 4 x 200m pullbuoy only. 80% effort
  • 8 x 100 pullbuoy or swim only. All out effort but maintainable for all 8 reps

20 seconds rest for each set

Cool Down:
  • 1 x 200 easy

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winter nutrition

Winter Training Blog – Part 1

Winter offers a great opportunity to spice up your training and to try new sessions. We asked our friends at Andy Cook Cycling how to keep yourself riding through those cold winter months.

  1. Try riding your usual routes the other way round for a change and to add variety.
  2. Devise some small road circuits for use in the winter months, around 6-8 miles long. This means you are never too far from home should the weather turn or you run out of energy. Time yourself and try to beat it on the following lap!
  3. Commuting to work on a bike is a great way to utilise your travelling time and will keep your fitness ticking over.
  4. Keep motivated by looking back on your season and evaluate what you have achieved. Then look ahead to next season. Identify your goals and plan accordingly. Think about the events you want to enter.
  5. Join a club or go out with a group of like-minded friends. You’re more likely to get out of bed if you’ve arranged a meeting time and point. Riding in a group with the inevitable banter and competitive edge will make the miles more enjoyable and the hours pass far quicker. Other benefits include the fact that you’ll always have someone with you should you run into trouble to give a helping hand with mechanical issues. Sprint up the hills and then regroup at the top. Joining a club is also a great way to learn from experienced cyclists. You will learn the etiquette and skills of group riding. This will help at your next events.
  6. If you like to use events to keep you focused and motivated, try some winter sportives, reliability trials or Audax events.

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If you don’t get the chance to ride during daylight, it can be daunting to ride in the dark but there are still options to stay on the bike:

  1. Try some of your local industrial estates. They are usually well-lit and traffic-free in the evenings: great for an hour’s tempo ride or intervals. It’s also a good opportunity to perfect cornering/gearing technique. Sprinting out of corners on a short 1 km circuit is great interval training.
  2. Try the Velodrome (if you live near a velodrome – there are more and more popping up around the country), they often have winter track leagues or sessions on during the evenings. It’s a great way of completing a good session in the warm and dry.
  3. Outdoor velodromes or cycling circuits often put on training sessions during the winter months. A great way to get some riding in on traffic free roads!
  4. Hit the turbo. High intensity interval sessions are very effective for maintaining and improving your fitness without needing to spend hours on the bike.

There are a lot of tips and tricks to keep you riding throughout the winter. It is after all the best opportunity to improve on areas of weakness and test out that new bike you want for Christmas.

In part 2 of the winter training series of blogs we will delve into some great turbo sessions for those days that you just to want to stay indoors.

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Tips on becoming a better mountain biker

Looking to improve your off road skills? We asked Jurgens Uys of Kargo Pro MTB team for his tips on the best way to quickly develop the techniques you are going to need to light up the trails.

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  •  Ride with people or friends that are faster and more technical than you, this will help you to explore your limits and ride outside your own comfort zone. Push your boundaries.
  • A good technique is to stick on the wheel of someone you know to be faster than you and try to hold on for as long as you possibly can. This technique will really help to make you fast on the single tracks and will increase your skill level quickly. This will also teach you how to take better lines and when to break and when to just let go and ride fast.
  • For those times when you don’t have friends to ride with regularly, use Strava and go ride down a technical single track. Create your own single track segment and repeat it a few times over, each time pushing yourself to beat your previous time. This is one of the best ways to test yourself. Remember to save and record all your data to see if you are improving or not.

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Endurance Tips and strength

  • If it is not base training season don’t waste time doing very long rides, you will find that doing this just tires you out and makes you a bit slower on the explosive side of racing.
  • Make sure you do your intervals properly and give them your all. It’s important to ensure you recover fully after these tough sessions. Drink HIGH5 Protein Recovery as soon as possible after your workout and take a rest day afterwards. You can’t build on your fitness if your body has not recovered completely.
  • Get on your mountain bike every now and then and simulate your race pace. Try doing some time trails, go as fast as possible but sustain effort as you would in a race to make sure you reach the finish line. Your body needs to get use to riding the fast pace for longer durations, while really pushing your limits.
  • Work on your weaknesses! If you are not good up hills then spend more hours on the hills. If your downhill skills need more attention, then you need to head out and ride the downhills and push yourself further each time. Remember to vary your downhill training to include fast cornering, technical sections and smooth fast sections. Speed is your friend and momentum is key.
  • To be a great mountain biker you need to be an all-rounder. Aim to excel in every aspect of mountain biking: up hills, downhills, flats and technical riding are all important facets in the sport and each facet should be trained individually as well as together.14482270_316138165437313_2143478191564521472_n1
General Tips
  • Write down your dreams and goals. Stick them up and remind yourself of them daily.
  • Always stick to your training program, don’t skip due to bad weather. Go out in the cold and wet because it will make your appreciate the good days.
  • Remember it is important to look after your own health and body, but make sure you look after your equipment as well. If you look after your bike it will look after you.

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Training Gym Winter Motivation

Winter Gym Training

It can sometimes be hard to find the time to get to the gym. At this time of year when the nights start drawing in, it can feel like you have even less time to get your important training sessions in. We recently caught up with Rasmus Kostner of SAP Extreme Sailing to discuss the importance of finding the time for the gym in the winter months.

sap-extreme_tristan-stedman_ts22766In an outdoor sport like sailing, the frigid temperatures and limited sunlight of the Nordic winter naturally restricts our on-water training. After a long season with an extremely busy racing schedule, it feels great to get back into a structured gym regime. Getting back in to the gym helps to gain back some of the lost muscle mass that is so hard to maintain while racing every second or third week. Time spent in the gym also plays an important role in the avoidance of common injuries to shoulder and lower back when the next season starts.

For me, daily training consists of weight training, crossfit workouts, as well as core and mobility sessions. The weight training targets the muscle mass increase; with heavy deadlift, squat, clean, push press and pull ups. I always start my training with a plan, but often mix it up by including a one repetition max, or as many repetitions as possible with a fixed weight.

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The benefits of constant variation in my physical training have become more and more obvious for me. For general fitness, it’s hard to beat crossfit training in terms of variation and for challenging weak areas. Training for the diverse physical demands of high-performance sailing, such as fast, unbalanced movements, heavy pulls and cardio-intensive grinding on the winch, crossfit is a near perfect fit. We find that by doing these workouts as a team, we really are able to push and motivate each other, which is a key to high intensity and quality in the workouts. Since everybody has a favourite workout, whether you are tall, heavy or lean there is always someone pushing you. At the same time you know if you do well one day, you might get beaten the next.

At Crossfit Kvadraturensap-extreme_tristan-stedman_ts18621 we use a web-based performance platform called “Beyond the Whiteboard”, there you can analyse and compare your own performance to thousands of athletes from around the world. It’s great how technology can not only help to keep track of the progress you make, but to help you to stay motivated and push harder.

For mobility training I do the daily routine from the streaming service, ROMWOD. To get through the uncomfortable 20 minutes of stretching I need instructions and motivating words. After intense physical training and to get rid of muscle soreness I use a foam roller and a dimple ball, which works wonders. Besides that I just make sure I get enough sleep and eat healthily.

In the winter season I stay hydrated with the HIGH5 ZERO tabs because I believe it is important to consume electrolytes without boosting the insulin levels with sugar. After my training sessions, and in the morning I use Protein Recovery to make sure I have the energy for my next work out and help with the growth of lean muscle.

Tips to take away1603-sap-extreme-high5-24313_1

  • Mix up repetitions and weight
  • Challenge your week areas
  • Workout with someone and keep pushing each other
  • Get enough sleep and eat healthy

For a chance to win a winter training nutrition bundle worth over £300, check out our latest competition here.

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Nutrition tips to get you through the winter

With the cold frosts and shorter days setting in, a lot of us need that little bit of extra motivation to get out there and train.

Winter training is the time where we can all work on our weaknesses to make us a better, stronger athlete. With time away from competition, we can introduce fun training sessions and even get more experimental with our approach!

One very popular training component which athletes should focus on during winter is their nutrition. The right nutrition will give you energy for your training sessions, help you recover better and strengthen your immune system. This is especially important in the winter, where we are more susceptible to becoming ill.

One myth which certainly needs putting straight is that “protein is just for body builders”. Protein is an essential component of any diet, no matter what your age, gender, ability or activity level is. Essential for many functions in the body such as repair and growth of muscle tissue, protein can also help keep us fuller for longer, meaning we’re less likely to reach for the cookie jar. Your immune response requires rapid cell replication and the production of proteins to ensure that we can fight off illness. Therefore, being slightly deficient in protein can increase your risk of becoming ill.

winter nutrition

Athletes who exercise three to five times per week would benefit from consuming 1.4-2.0g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight(1). As an example, if you weigh 70kg you should aim to consume 98g-140g of protein per day. Your protein and fat intake should stay fairly consistent on a day-to-day basis and it is best to periodise your carbohydrates around training.

As far as protein timing is concerned, it is best to spread your protein intake evenly over the day(2).Consuming protein at every meal and snack seems to work best for recovery rather than consuming a large amount in one go or at the end of the day for example.

We’ve put together our top five products to make your winter training hours a little more warming both physically and mentally!

1. HIGH5 Protein Hit

Part of our healthy snack range, it’s already a firm winter favourite in our office. In three mouthwatering flavours, Protein Hit is packed full of nutritious goodness. Drop this into your bag as a convenient source of protein, fats and carbohydrates for on the go. Alternatively, it serves as an ideal pre-training snack to keep you radiating energy all session long.

2. HIGH5 ZERO

Light and refreshing, ZERO provides the essential warmzeroelectrolytes and minerals to aid hydration, ZERO is the perfect drink to go with your high intensity training sessions, whether that’s in the pool, gym, fitness class or on the turbo at home.Versatile in its nature, owing to both its sugar and calorie free make up, you can also use ZERO to add some flavour to your water throughout the day.

A special favourite in the office is to make warm ZERO. Simple boil your kettle, fill your mug with warm water and drop your preferred flavour in! Delivering a dose of Vitamin C to help support a healthy immune system and protect cells from oxidative stress, ZERO also helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue.

3. HIGH5 Protein Recovery

Most of you will probably know that recovery is vitally important to stimulate the training adaptations you want through training. With the perfect combination of whey protein isolate and carbohydrates for refuelling, this drink will serve as your saviour after a tough session in harsh winter conditions.

A top tip for really cold days: reward yourself with an indulgent hot chocolate recovery drink. Simply warm up some milk (but don’t bring it to a boil) and mix it with our Protein Recovery Chocolate powder. For an extra treat, chuck on some marshmallows.20161108_165712

4. HIGH5 EnergyBar

Feeling peckish? EnergyBar is a must in our top 5 products for winter training. A natural mix of fruits and grains, this easy to chew bar is perfect for those sessions where you need to fill a gap and keep those energy levels up. In fact, we’ve added so much fruit, it provides you with one of your “five-a-day”! Our bodies burn extra calories in the cold to keep our bodies warm and maintain homeostasis. Don’t get caught out by not having enough energy, keep an EnergyBar in your pocket.

EnergyBar is great as a healthy snack throughout the day or to use before and during training.

5. HIGH5 EnergySource 4:1

Last but not least, this all in one sports drink, with 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part whey protein isolate, helps to maintain endurance performance and contribute to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass. Our go to drink for longer training sessions, the SummerFruits flavour will bring the sunshine back into your training routine.

There you have it, our top five products for your winter training to help you enjoy building the base that you need going into the new year.

Reference:

(1)Kreider et al. (2010). ISSN exercise and sport nutrition review: research and recommendations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 7:7. http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/7

(2) Areta, J.L et al. (2013) Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. The Journal of Physiology. 591.9. pp2319-2331

 

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