Capacity versus Usage

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 2 July '15 0
You are reading: Capacity versus Usage

Level: advanced

One of the most common dilemmas in the world of sport is: how to make the best use of your capacities to achieve your set goals? This means it is vitally important to know “what” to do and “how” to do it.

In relation to this, try answering the following questions before taking on a new challenge:

1. Have I planned my season properly (or part of it)?

  • Remember to write everything down!

2. What do I want to “measure”?

  • Anything that cannot be measured or controlled cannot be managed.

3. What is my goal?

  • Discipline leads to excellence.

How can we define “capacity”?

Your capacity is your “thing”, it is the container. The aim is to improve and expand this container. Try and imagine your capacity as a warehouse, which, in order to store all the material required for achieving your biggest goals, must be made bigger. So when we talk about capacity, what we really mean is this: training to improve and expand this container.

 But how?

  • By planning long-term goals. This takes longer but has lots of benefits.
  • By working more on your aerobic capacity and in a less specific way.
  • By adopting a systematic training method.

More specifically, you will notice:

  • an improvement in your overall fitness
  • an increase in the size of your “container” or, in other words, an increase in your capacity.

So if your capacity is bigger, then it is ready to be used!

But what do we mean by usage?

Usage is your “how”! Or in other words…….

  • How to achieve your goals
  • How to find the right balance
  • How to make the best use of your capacity

Any specific ability comes from both talent and capacity. That is why it is so important to train when you are young, because lots of capacities are trained that can then be developed and ultimately used to achieve success.

When you are young you should make your “container” bigger, when you are an adult you should fill it up and make the best use of it.

So the aim is to work on your limitations in order to surpass them!

To do this you must bring together all the different aspects of training (physical, mental and relational) and, above all, not confuse what (ability) with how (usage).

To give you an idea, here are some examples

  •  Early season: aerobic work, short recovery 20×100 @ 1.30 = CAPACITY
  • Late season: work at race pace, short rest (intervals) 4×50 with 10” rest = USAGE

At the end of the season I make use of the work I have done on my aerobic capacity in the early season. I make use of what I have previously built up!

The same thing applies to one single training session:

  • 4 x 100 aerobic @ 1.30 = CAPACITY
  • 3 x 100 aerobic @ 1.25 = CAPACITY
  • 2 x 100 fast @ 1.20 = USAGE
  • 1×100 sub-maximal (close to record race pace) @ 1.15 = USAGE

This set is for advanced swimmers, but it provides an idea of how to make use of capacity and usage in one single session.

Your capacity to swim 20×200 metres will probably decline as you get closer to your target race, but if you have planned properly, your capacity to swim 1×100 in your target time will have increased!


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arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.