Elite Swimmers' Training Patterns in the 25 Weeks Prior to Their Season's Best Performances

Insights Into Periodization From a 20-Years Cohort

Philippe Hellard, Marta Avalos-Fernandes, Gaelle Lefort, Robin Pla, Inigo Mujika, Jean-François Toussaint, David B Pyne

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Abstract

Background: This study investigated the periodization of elite swimmers' training over the 25 weeks preceding the major competition of the season. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of elite male (n = 60) and female (n = 67) swimmers (46 sprint, 81 middle-distance) over 20 competitive seasons (1992-2012). The following variables were monitored: training corresponding to blood lactate <2 mmol⋅L-1, 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, >6 mmol⋅L-1, and maximal swimming speed; general conditioning and maximal strength training hours; total training load (TTL); and the mean normalized volumes for both in-water and dryland workouts. Latent class mixed modeling was used to identify various TTL pattern groups. The associations between pattern groups and sex, age, competition event, Olympic quadrennial year, training contents, and relative performance were quantified. Results: For the entire cohort, ∼86-90% of the training was swum at an intensity of [La]b ≤ 4 mmol⋅L-1. This training volume was divided into 40-44% at <2 mmol⋅L-1 and 44-46% at 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, leaving 6-9.5% at >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, and 3.5-4.5% at >6 mmol⋅L-1. Three sprint TTL patterns were identified: a pattern with two long ∼14-15-week macrocycles, one with two ∼12-13 week macrocycles each composed of a balanced training load, and one with a single stable flat macrocycle. The long pattern elicited the fastest performances and was most prevalent in Olympic quadrennials (i.e., 4 seasons preceding the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games). This pattern exhibited moderate week-to-week TTL variability (6 ± 3%), progressive training load increases between macrocycles, and more training at ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1. This fastest sprint pattern showed a waveform in the second macrocycle consisting of two progressive load peaks 10-11 and 4-6 weeks before competition. The stable flat pattern was the slowest and showed low TTL variability (4 ± 3%), training load decreases between macrocycles (P < 0.01), and more training at 4-6 mmol⋅L-1 (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Progressive increases in training load, macrocycles lasting about 14-15 weeks, and substantial volume of training at intensities ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1, were associated with peak performance in elite swimmers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number363
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Resistance Training
Observational Studies
Lactic Acid
Retrospective Studies
Age Groups
Water

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Hellard, Philippe ; Avalos-Fernandes, Marta ; Lefort, Gaelle ; Pla, Robin ; Mujika, Inigo ; Toussaint, Jean-François ; Pyne, David B. / Elite Swimmers' Training Patterns in the 25 Weeks Prior to Their Season's Best Performances : Insights Into Periodization From a 20-Years Cohort. In: Frontiers in Physiology. 2019 ; Vol. 10. pp. 1-16.
@article{c16ff0a687f84587a4c339be1c60f517,
title = "Elite Swimmers' Training Patterns in the 25 Weeks Prior to Their Season's Best Performances: Insights Into Periodization From a 20-Years Cohort",
abstract = "Background: This study investigated the periodization of elite swimmers' training over the 25 weeks preceding the major competition of the season. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of elite male (n = 60) and female (n = 67) swimmers (46 sprint, 81 middle-distance) over 20 competitive seasons (1992-2012). The following variables were monitored: training corresponding to blood lactate <2 mmol⋅L-1, 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, >6 mmol⋅L-1, and maximal swimming speed; general conditioning and maximal strength training hours; total training load (TTL); and the mean normalized volumes for both in-water and dryland workouts. Latent class mixed modeling was used to identify various TTL pattern groups. The associations between pattern groups and sex, age, competition event, Olympic quadrennial year, training contents, and relative performance were quantified. Results: For the entire cohort, ∼86-90{\%} of the training was swum at an intensity of [La]b ≤ 4 mmol⋅L-1. This training volume was divided into 40-44{\%} at <2 mmol⋅L-1 and 44-46{\%} at 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, leaving 6-9.5{\%} at >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, and 3.5-4.5{\%} at >6 mmol⋅L-1. Three sprint TTL patterns were identified: a pattern with two long ∼14-15-week macrocycles, one with two ∼12-13 week macrocycles each composed of a balanced training load, and one with a single stable flat macrocycle. The long pattern elicited the fastest performances and was most prevalent in Olympic quadrennials (i.e., 4 seasons preceding the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games). This pattern exhibited moderate week-to-week TTL variability (6 ± 3{\%}), progressive training load increases between macrocycles, and more training at ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1. This fastest sprint pattern showed a waveform in the second macrocycle consisting of two progressive load peaks 10-11 and 4-6 weeks before competition. The stable flat pattern was the slowest and showed low TTL variability (4 ± 3{\%}), training load decreases between macrocycles (P < 0.01), and more training at 4-6 mmol⋅L-1 (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Progressive increases in training load, macrocycles lasting about 14-15 weeks, and substantial volume of training at intensities ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1, were associated with peak performance in elite swimmers.",
author = "Philippe Hellard and Marta Avalos-Fernandes and Gaelle Lefort and Robin Pla and Inigo Mujika and Jean-Fran{\cc}ois Toussaint and Pyne, {David B}",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.3389/fphys.2019.00363",
language = "English",
volume = "10",
pages = "1--16",
journal = "Frontiers in Physiology",
issn = "1664-042X",
publisher = "Frontiers Media S.A.",

}

Elite Swimmers' Training Patterns in the 25 Weeks Prior to Their Season's Best Performances : Insights Into Periodization From a 20-Years Cohort. / Hellard, Philippe; Avalos-Fernandes, Marta; Lefort, Gaelle; Pla, Robin; Mujika, Inigo; Toussaint, Jean-François; Pyne, David B.

In: Frontiers in Physiology, Vol. 10, 363, 2019, p. 1-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Elite Swimmers' Training Patterns in the 25 Weeks Prior to Their Season's Best Performances

T2 - Insights Into Periodization From a 20-Years Cohort

AU - Hellard, Philippe

AU - Avalos-Fernandes, Marta

AU - Lefort, Gaelle

AU - Pla, Robin

AU - Mujika, Inigo

AU - Toussaint, Jean-François

AU - Pyne, David B

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Background: This study investigated the periodization of elite swimmers' training over the 25 weeks preceding the major competition of the season. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of elite male (n = 60) and female (n = 67) swimmers (46 sprint, 81 middle-distance) over 20 competitive seasons (1992-2012). The following variables were monitored: training corresponding to blood lactate <2 mmol⋅L-1, 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, >6 mmol⋅L-1, and maximal swimming speed; general conditioning and maximal strength training hours; total training load (TTL); and the mean normalized volumes for both in-water and dryland workouts. Latent class mixed modeling was used to identify various TTL pattern groups. The associations between pattern groups and sex, age, competition event, Olympic quadrennial year, training contents, and relative performance were quantified. Results: For the entire cohort, ∼86-90% of the training was swum at an intensity of [La]b ≤ 4 mmol⋅L-1. This training volume was divided into 40-44% at <2 mmol⋅L-1 and 44-46% at 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, leaving 6-9.5% at >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, and 3.5-4.5% at >6 mmol⋅L-1. Three sprint TTL patterns were identified: a pattern with two long ∼14-15-week macrocycles, one with two ∼12-13 week macrocycles each composed of a balanced training load, and one with a single stable flat macrocycle. The long pattern elicited the fastest performances and was most prevalent in Olympic quadrennials (i.e., 4 seasons preceding the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games). This pattern exhibited moderate week-to-week TTL variability (6 ± 3%), progressive training load increases between macrocycles, and more training at ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1. This fastest sprint pattern showed a waveform in the second macrocycle consisting of two progressive load peaks 10-11 and 4-6 weeks before competition. The stable flat pattern was the slowest and showed low TTL variability (4 ± 3%), training load decreases between macrocycles (P < 0.01), and more training at 4-6 mmol⋅L-1 (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Progressive increases in training load, macrocycles lasting about 14-15 weeks, and substantial volume of training at intensities ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1, were associated with peak performance in elite swimmers.

AB - Background: This study investigated the periodization of elite swimmers' training over the 25 weeks preceding the major competition of the season. Methods: We conducted a retrospective observational study of elite male (n = 60) and female (n = 67) swimmers (46 sprint, 81 middle-distance) over 20 competitive seasons (1992-2012). The following variables were monitored: training corresponding to blood lactate <2 mmol⋅L-1, 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, >6 mmol⋅L-1, and maximal swimming speed; general conditioning and maximal strength training hours; total training load (TTL); and the mean normalized volumes for both in-water and dryland workouts. Latent class mixed modeling was used to identify various TTL pattern groups. The associations between pattern groups and sex, age, competition event, Olympic quadrennial year, training contents, and relative performance were quantified. Results: For the entire cohort, ∼86-90% of the training was swum at an intensity of [La]b ≤ 4 mmol⋅L-1. This training volume was divided into 40-44% at <2 mmol⋅L-1 and 44-46% at 2 to ≤4 mmol⋅L-1, leaving 6-9.5% at >4-6 mmol⋅L-1, and 3.5-4.5% at >6 mmol⋅L-1. Three sprint TTL patterns were identified: a pattern with two long ∼14-15-week macrocycles, one with two ∼12-13 week macrocycles each composed of a balanced training load, and one with a single stable flat macrocycle. The long pattern elicited the fastest performances and was most prevalent in Olympic quadrennials (i.e., 4 seasons preceding the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games). This pattern exhibited moderate week-to-week TTL variability (6 ± 3%), progressive training load increases between macrocycles, and more training at ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1. This fastest sprint pattern showed a waveform in the second macrocycle consisting of two progressive load peaks 10-11 and 4-6 weeks before competition. The stable flat pattern was the slowest and showed low TTL variability (4 ± 3%), training load decreases between macrocycles (P < 0.01), and more training at 4-6 mmol⋅L-1 (P < 0.01). Conclusion: Progressive increases in training load, macrocycles lasting about 14-15 weeks, and substantial volume of training at intensities ≤4 mmol⋅L-1 and >6 mmol⋅L-1, were associated with peak performance in elite swimmers.

U2 - 10.3389/fphys.2019.00363

DO - 10.3389/fphys.2019.00363

M3 - Article

VL - 10

SP - 1

EP - 16

JO - Frontiers in Physiology

JF - Frontiers in Physiology

SN - 1664-042X

M1 - 363

ER -