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2013-03-10 8:47 PM


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Subject: Muscle fatigue from swimming

I am slowly building endurance with my lungs but I find that my form collapses as my shoulders and back muscles become fatigued. What exercises can I do to reduce such fatigue? Can paddles and fins help?

Do all triathletes use the crawl to swim or are other strokes used?



2013-03-10 8:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

Disclaimer:  I'm not a coach, nor am I a very good swimmer.

But if your shoulders are getting fatigued, there's probably something off with your stroke.

2013-03-10 9:03 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

I realized how completely unhelpful my previous post was.

I used to have the same issue.  Lots of shoulder fatigue.  My pull was all arms.  I've been working with a coach this offseason, and I have completely eliminated that.  I'm able to create power from hip rotation and a more efficient pull now.

For back exercises, he's had me do a few traditional things (lat pulls, all kinds of rows) as well as a lot of exercises with bands and cable cross machines that emulate portions of the stroke.

2013-03-10 9:21 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
smithmedic - 2013-03-10 8:47 PM

I am slowly building endurance with my lungs but I find that my form collapses as my shoulders and back muscles become fatigued. What exercises can I do to reduce such fatigue? Can paddles and fins help?

Do all triathletes use the crawl to swim or are other strokes used?

I've always felt that fins were for competitive swimmers. Triathletes don't need to build up leg strength like that for our events. Kicking on intervals, though suck, are necessary at some point and will help you break a few time barriers. Fins however are the icing on the cake.

As far as your back muscles being fatigued, assuming you have good stroke, its just swim more. Your legs get fatigued when running, so same thing. It gets easier the more you swim That's all I can say from the information given, unless I start making assumptions.

2013-03-10 10:12 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

Yesl, your form will start to collapse as you get tired.  Exercises, meh, just keep swimming.   Soreness isn't a big deal, its normal.  Heck, isn't constant soreness part of being a triathlete?  Doing some sets with fins may take some of the load off.

 

2013-03-11 6:20 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

While some soreness/fatigue is normal in a hard swim workout, at the point where you are getting so tired/sore/tight it is starting to seriously affect your form, you need to do something. Choices might include--

*End the workout (if you're really feeling exhausted, unwell, or cramping)

*Do an easy recovery set. I like doing dolphin kick with fins to relax and stretch out.

*Switch to another stroke for a while. For example, when I'm doing big sets of 100's on a short interval (a staple workout for most swimmers), every five or so I'll throw in an IM (one lap each of fly, back, breast, and free) just to work some different muscles. Even if you can only do one other stroke, you could do a few repeats of that rather than freestyle, or alternate it with free for a set.

*Finish the set/workout with fins. They will lighten the load on your arms a bit. Paddles increase it so not a good idea if already very fatigued. I will admit, I do this sometimes when I am pushing 4000m.

I can't speak for all triathletes, but I'm guessing that those of us with swim backgrounds tend to mix in some other strokes for variety. My workouts are probably 80-90% freestyle, but the other strokes not only help you avoid fatigue from working the same muscles over and over, but also can help improve your freestyle......maybe an expert like Yanti should explain! I know this intuitively but am over my head here theoretically. (I'm a swim coach but no qualification other than being a swimmer!)

In the long term, perhaps some continued work on form, further swim conditioning, or (I hesitate to utter the word on this site, but as a triathlete with a scrawny runner's physique, I've found it helpful in improving my swim strength and endurance), some targeted strength training would help as well.



2013-03-11 6:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
Strength training is especially important to beginners because most beginners don't have the muscle mass to begin with.
2013-03-11 6:51 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

Other than saying just keep swimming and those muscles will get stronger/more endurant (true even if you have terrible form and are using the "wrong" muscles), I wonder how your swim workouts are structured?  It's a very technique-based sport, and it's our one discipline where we don't usually just go out and swim our workout nonstop.  Instead, we swim shorter sets so we can swim them with good techinique..one our form breaks down, it's time to recover so we aren't training bad habits into our muscle memory.

As far as strength goes...more swimming.  Weights/stretch cords, nutrition and recovery all play a role. 

2013-03-11 8:14 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
smithmedic - 2013-03-10 9:47 PM

I am slowly building endurance with my lungs but I find that my form collapses as my shoulders and back muscles become fatigued. What exercises can I do to reduce such fatigue? Can paddles and fins help?



The key back muscles used in swimming should be your lats, assuming your technique is correct. Engaging these large muscles is an important part of a good swim stroke. Chinups/pullups and lat pulldowns (machine) are useful exercises. Check out http://swimspeedsecrets.com/by Taormina (excellent book!) for some other specific exercises to work the pull portion of your stroke.

Use paddles with caution as you begin, and stick with smaller ones to avoid strain on your muscles.

Do all triathletes use the crawl to swim or are other strokes used?



I know you're not going to see me doing the butterfly! ;-) No, most people freestyle. You will see breast stroke on occasion, generally from people who are inexperienced or simply using a few strokes to sight or take a break. PLEASE use breast stroke with caution, and not when you're in a pack -- getting kicked in the face is not fun! If you find you need to mix some breast stroke into your swim, try to stay to the outside of the pack, where it's less crowded.

Ken



Edited by kenail 2013-03-11 8:15 AM
2013-03-11 8:23 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
Just in case the OP misunderstands about the different strokes, I was referring to their use in training, not racing.  Definitely, stick to freestyle when at all possible when racing. Breaststroke can be useful for sighting and as a recovery stroke if, for example, you've just been kicked or swallowed a ton of water. But the kick won't endear you to other racers. Unless it's an emergency, backstroke isn't a good idea. And forget the butterfly, unless we're talking "dolphin dives" (which can look like fly) which some people use in shallow water near the start and finish.
2013-03-11 8:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
as you become fatigued that is when you need to do your drills!!  Best thing you can do is work on your swim form when you are tired!


2013-03-14 12:54 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
Some good advice here. How far do you swim before noticing the fatigue? What do your swim sessions look like? How long does it take you to swim 100 yards on average? What's your fastest 100 ? How many strokes does it take you to swim an easy 25 across teh pool and what pace is it at?

answers to these questions will help frame the shoulder fatigue issue.

As far as exercises, you'll want ot first make sure your swim form is decent Until then it won't matter what kind of strengthening you do.

Swimming is a sport of finesse and you can gaine a lot of speed & enduracne with technqie alone so lets start there.
2013-03-14 9:04 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

LPJmom - 2013-03-11 7:47 AM Strength training is especially important to beginners because most beginners don't have the muscle mass to begin with.

True enough, but so is spending lots of time in the water swimming. I wouldn't advise doing weight training to build swim muscles without swimming - if for nothing else, unless you're swimming, you don't even know which muscles to work out! 

A good portion - not all, but most - of swimming is technique, though. Anyone can get to the middle of the pack using a relaxed, consistent stroke that they can maintain for a long time. This is MORE than enough for most triathletes. If you're not competing for the win, focus on getting your swimming to that point, and gain a lifelong love of swimming as an enjoyable, full body workout that's both relaxing and invigorating. It takes some time and coaching to get there, but you will. Just keep swimming!

2013-03-14 9:10 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

These guys are 100% correct, your immediate problem is likely that of stroke mechanics.  Not to say you might have some upper body conditioning issues, but your mechanics is probably limiting your ability to know how much of an issue this is.  Couple of suggestions:

1) Get a coach.  Costly but probably the best alternative.

2) Get a video of you swimming and post it.  There are number of BT members who can offer you solid advise but we have to see you swim to comment on your form and what can be done. 

2013-03-14 11:46 AM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming

As it has been said one billion times swimming is the most technical aspect of a triathlon, with bad technique you are working harder to swim slower.  If you are getting fatigued doing a straight distance, IE jump in swim 1600, break it up, 4 x 400’s with rest.  I do sets exclusively, I will do a straight swim to check my time, but I have a WU, a speed set, that is usually a ladder or pyramid with sprints in there and maybe a drill/ez, And I do a endurance set early season 10 x 100, eventually getting to the 6 x 500.  I will shave 5-10 secs of rest depending per week.   If you are tired, your form will most likely be impacted, stop rest, change it up, do some kick sets, or pull sets.

As for paddles and fins, use with caution, I will do some paddle sets, maybe 300 total yards of a 3500, I will break it down into 3 100’s in between other things.  You will gain the strength and the muscle endurance as you move into more distance, if you swim work out is once a week jump in swim your mile and hop out then you will not likely see much gain.

2013-03-14 6:59 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
Paddles will not help.


2013-03-16 12:10 PM
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Subject: RE: Muscle fatigue from swimming
smithmedic - 2013-03-10 6:47 PM

I am slowly building endurance with my lungs but I find that my form collapses as my shoulders and back muscles become fatigued. What exercises can I do to reduce such fatigue? Can paddles and fins help?

It sounds like you are improving your cardio fitness, but lagging behind a bit with your strength. Fatigue means that you are more stress on those muscles than they are accustomed to. That's a good thing. I have never ended a hard workout when my shoulder and back muscles were not fatigued. Fatigue good, pain bad. Know the difference.

Interesting question about paddles and fins. Paddles will overload the shoulder and back muscles. After a good recovery this will make you stronger. I would imagine at first they would make you feel even more fatigued. Caution: swimming with paddles must be done judiciously so as not to run into shoulder injury problems. You definitely don't want to use them when you are fatigued.

As for fins they can be used to take stress off your shoulders (among other things), but that doesn't seem to be the problem since it sounds like you are only feeling the fatigue after your workout. I'm a true believer in getting out once your form breaks down, but the suggestion that you finish your workout with a kick set or swimming a different stroke are excellent choices as well. I just don't spend a whole lot of time kicking in a workout, and a shoulder problem limits what other strokes I can do.

If you are fatigued at the start of a swim workout and it persists even after a warmup, you need more time to recover from your previous session.

 

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