This blog post is sponsored by Therabody! The Theragun Elite uses percussive technology to apply up to 40 pounds of force to your muscles for optimal performance and recovery before or after swim workouts. Get a Theragun Elite here >
When you go to the pool, do you swim for 15, 30 or even 60 minutes straight with no breaks? We’re here to tell you to stop that ASAP…because you may actually be making yourself slower!
While swimming continuously is certainly one way to get a swim workout in, it’s not the only way. Depending on your goals, structuring your swim workouts into defined sets can actually help you improve more quickly. Let’s dive in!
5 Reasons You Should Stop Swimming Continuous Laps
1. It’s Boring
If you don’t get bored swimming for 1 hour straight, or if you have a goal to complete a marathon swim (10k+), more power to you! But most of us do get bored with long, uninterrupted swims.
Instead, try breaking up your workout into sets, such as a Warmup, Main Set and Cool Down. Within those sets, you’ll swim shorter distances on a specific interval. You’ll get rest between each rep, and will probably feel more mentally engaged.
Related: What is Interval Training?
If you continue to push for nonstop laps every day at the pool, you will eventually get burned out mentally. And we don’t want that! If you’re motivated and excited about your swim training, you’re more likely to stick to your plan.
2. You Might Plateau
If you’re a brand new swimmer, you may find that you do experience performance gains or weight loss with continuous swimming. And that’s great! But eventually, you’ll plateau and start having trouble improving. The only way to break that plateau is to start swimming structured workouts that challenge your body more than the continuous swims.
Related: 5 Ways to Overcome a Swimming Plateau
Breaking your workout into different sets can help you focus on different things, like technique, speed work or learning a new stroke. For help with structured swim training, check out the MySwimPro app! Get a personalized Training Plan to help you reach your goals in the pool.
3. You Will Swim Slower
When you go for a long, continuous swim, you will most likely swim at a slower pace than you would if you were to break your swim into shorter sets. This is totally fine and expected, but if you want to get faster, it’s not going to help you. To get faster (whether for a race or simply to reduce your average speed per 100), you need to swim faster in training!
Related: How to Fix 5 Common Flip Turn Mistakes
Swim sets that contain shorter distances allow you to work on speed and pacing, which can translate into faster times for longer swims eventually.
You probably won’t swim a faster 100 freestyle if you go to the pool and swim for an hour straight. You will get faster if you swim focused sets that incorporate speed work and plenty of rest!
It may seem counterintuitive to add rest into your workouts, but trust us! If interval training works for the best swimmers in the world, it will work for you, too!
A Note on Recovery
When you switch up your training like this, your body can feel pretty fatigued and run down. Recovery will play a bigger role in your training, to ensure you can show up to the pool each day feeling refreshed and ready to go.
We’ve been loving the Theragun Elite for loosening up pre-swim and recovering after a swim. It’s like having a personal massage therapist with you 24/7, and it fits in your swim bag! The Theragun is a smart percussive therapy device that releases muscle tension and soreness. It’s a great choice for full-body recovery:
- Gets 60% deeper into muscle tissue than other handheld massagers
- Apply up to 40 pounds of force for a deep tissue massage
- Swap out attachments to work on trigger points or smaller muscle groups
To take your recovery even further, use the Therabody mobile app for personalized instructions while you use your Theragun Elite. The app connects to the Theragun via Bluetooth and guides you through a recommended massage routine to optimize your recovery. Get a Theragun Elite here >
4. You Increase Your Risk of Injury
Swimming can be tough on the shoulders, and consistent, nonstop swimming can put you at a higher risk of injury.
If your technique isn’t on point, long swims will reinforce your poor technique, especially as you get tired (in general, our form starts to go downhill when we fatigue). When you swim with improper technique over a long period of time, your risk of injury increases even more.
Related: How to Prevent Shoulder Injury While Swimming
Try swimming a workout that gives you enough rest between reps and incorporates some technique work and drill sets every time you hit the pool. They’re a great addition to your warmup or can be used as active recovery between more challenging sets. Check out our 5 favorite freestyle drills >
If you’d like to swim a long distance one day (5k, etc.), it’s important to work up to it gradually with structured workouts to ensure your shoulders can handle it.
5. You Miss Out on the Benefits of Swimming
Steady state, continuous swimming might help improve your aerobic fitness and endurance, but when you choose to avoid mixing up sets, speeds and strokes you are missing out on some more major benefits of swimming!
Beyond improving speed, interval training:
- Strengthens the heart
- Improves your oxygen uptake
- Improves anaerobic endurance (your ability to push hard with minimal oxygen)
If you still enjoy long, continuous swims, keep doing them, but try incorporating a few interval training workouts or sets each week and you’ll start to see benefits!
If you want to take your swim training to the next level with structured workouts, check out the MySwimPro app! We’ve got tons of Training Plans for every Skill Level, and Guided Workouts that are personalized to your speed.
MySwimPro is your go-to resource to help you train effectively and reach your goals. Use code SWIM35 to save $35 on your first year of training with MySwimPro! >