The main purpose of IM training is a matter of debate both among swimmers and their coaches.
In reality, the IM should not be seen as four separate strokes but as one single swim style involving a wide variety of movements. That is why there are so many different training philosophies. Generally speaking, freestyle is the main stroke used in training sessions to improve swim skills. The second most popular stroke – particularly for quality sessions or when practicing swimming at race pace – is the so-called “best stroke”.
The “best-stroke” philosophy does not apply to IM swimmers.
For IM’ers, the specificity of swim skills involved is more complex than that required of swimmers focusing on just one or two strokes. This inevitably means training sessions are structured differently.
Let’s see how you can organize your training in three one-hour-long sessions per week. During the week:
The distance set for each day should be divided up into shorter sections to recover energy so you can repeat the drill with more fuel in the tank.
In this example, lo = legs only, ao = arms only and ex = technical drills.
Session 1 (butterfly)
Total: 2200 m (88 laps)
Session 2 (backstroke)
Tot. 2400 m (96 laps)
Session 3 (breaststroke)
Tot. 2200 m (88 laps)
From a physical training viewpoint, there is also a big difference. The number of muscles involved in a medley race is higher than in a race involving just one swim stroke and your joints will come under greater stress.
That is why gym workouts tend to be longer, focusing on exercises for various muscle groups and circuit training including exercises working on different muscle groups at different intensities (or speeds).
In my opinion and from an organic viewpoint, this is the most complex, tricky and interesting swim stroke that requires most dedication but is also the most fun to practice.
Enjoy your training!
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