Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Swimming can do wonders for your mind and your body. Whatever your goals are, persistence is a key element. But – let’s say it honestly – lap swimming can become pretty boring. And it’s easy to lose motivation. Here are some suggestions for changing the repetitiveness of your workouts.
Mix up different strokes
This not only helps you maintaining your focus on the right technique, but prevents injuries and, of course, fights off boredom. Furthermore, using different muscle groups, limbs pace and breathing, makes your workout more challenging.
Break the distances into shorter ones
Long distances are mostly associated to aerobic development. But what if your technique is still not good enough or your fitness is still at the beginning? You probably will slow down, making technique errors and wasting your efforts. Instead of 1 km try to do 20x50 @5 secs rest. And let me know...
Use different accessories, such as fins, paddles, snorkel, pull buoy, etc.
I love using as many tools as I can during my workouts. Different feelings, speeds and difficulties, help me keeping concentration high on the best technique. And sometimes they make things easier and smoother. We can’t always suffer!
Change speed and intensity
As a coach, the hardest thing I've been fighting with for years has been changing adult swimmer’s pace according to different training situations. Many adult swimmers, who come to practise late in their life, tend to swim always at the same speed. This – on the long run – makes them lose the physiological benefits of their sporting activity. Instead, exploring different speeds and efforts challenges you and puts you in the best position for achieving higher goals.
Dedicate each session to something different, such as starts, turns, body alignment, etc.
Swimming is not only four strokes. It’s made of lots of tiny segments that at the end of the day can make the difference. Dedicate a part of every workout to one of those. Turns, underwater kicking, shoulder rotation, body alignment, push offs, etc. You can also include one of them into a set as main focus.
Switch breathing side and try different breathing rhythms
Many people are used to breath on a single side or bilaterally every three strokes. But what happens if they try to change their habits? Usually this makes them freak out. You can breath on the other side, at different frequencies, holding you breath longer, blowing with a different pressure, frontally, laterally, etc. Also when you're on your back. And why not side breathing on butterfly? Don't forget that the act of breathing depends on a set of muscles that can be trained, stretched and developed.
Swim with friends…
Sharing the workout with friends is the best way to keep you motivated. Supporting each other is helpful and pleasant when things get tough and your limbs don't want to move anymore. It's also important to be compelled to adapt your pace to other, slowing down or racing when required.
… or peek and challenge lane neighbours
Taking a look around is always a source of inspiration. People in the next lane can show us new drills or a better technique ... or, sometimes, things NOT to do! Stay curious, open-minded and ready to take the best of what happens around you. And, if possible, show them who you are!
Write a workout (or download mine) and follow it. A different one each day
A written program to follow is always a good way to not lose track of what you are doing. But for me it’s an essential way to stay motivated throughout the session, especially when I have a good aerobic session planned and things get rough.
Remind yourself of the sense of reward that comes after each workout
I have always told my athletes that it isn’t important to start the session with top enthusiasm, but rather to finish it with the euphoria of having done a great workout. Sometimes it's hard to get into (cold) water early in the morning, tackle a power set, or feel your muscles on fire. But that pleasant feeling of fulfilment is absolutely amazing. This is what drives millions of athletes around the world to make every workout extraordinary.