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View Full Version : When to stop lifting weights for taper?



craig68
July 21st, 2008, 02:50 PM
I searched for this subject in prior threads, but couldn't find specific answers. With Nationals just a few weeks away, I'm hoping responses posted here will be helpful for others as well. My question is, when do you stop lifting as part of your taper? Way back in college, I used to stop weights a full three weeks before big meets (competed in sprint free/fly). I'm still only competing in spring free and fly. I don't know if I should -
keep lifting longer because yardage is way down compared to college
stop lifting sooner because my 40-year-old body takes longer to recover
or somewhere in the middleI certainly would appreciate it if folks would respond with your age-group, best events, and when you taper off weights. And if you competed in your youth/college, how does your current taper compare to then?

Thanks!

SLOmmafan
July 21st, 2008, 02:58 PM
I am a 18-25 group member, so I am all that far removed from my age-group/club swimming experiences. I am a mid-distance freestyle swimmer (200, 500 y) that occasionally does the spints (50,100 y).

When it comes to weights, my body tends to be prone to delayed muscle soreness - I also recover rather slowly compared to what I percieve as normal. At no point in my lifting experience did I ever do more than 2-3 days per week, and no more than 45 minutes of lifting. For the major meets I went to back then (Sectionals, Zones, etc) I would cut out lifting 3-4 weeks ahead of major competition.

Obviously I think it depends on the person, but I usually like to only lift "early season" and then use paddles/pulling to build upper body stength once I am in competition.

david.margrave
July 21st, 2008, 03:07 PM
I stopped lifting weights two weeks out from my last taper meet in April, and it seemed to work for me. I swim mostly freestyle (all distances), and maybe 1 or 2 butterfly or IM events.

Chris Stevenson
July 21st, 2008, 03:17 PM
Craig,

I predict you're going to get answers all over the map on this one. And it does depend somewhat on the person and the nature of their dryland work.

I prefer to err on the safe side: I stop lifting at least 3 weeks out, and for 2 weeks prior to that I'm on maintenance mode. Like SLOmmafan, I also use paddles more once I stop weights.

Good luck with your taper.

Jazz Hands
July 21st, 2008, 03:25 PM
I'm 22, I swim the 50 free and 50 fly.

The past two years for spring nationals I cut out lifting about two weeks before my first race, maybe a little more. For summer nationals this year I'm considering making that more like one week.

gull
July 21st, 2008, 04:06 PM
I'm 50 and swim middle distance free. I stop lifting about two weeks out. Even though the yardage is much less, I take longer to recover than I did thirty years ago.

swimshark
July 21st, 2008, 04:16 PM
I asked my resident "lifter" and teacher this yesterday at the meet. Hulk has me doing weights that will benefit my swimming and told me to go lower on the weights starting at 2 weeks out. I think I cut them out a week prior.

The Fortress
July 21st, 2008, 04:55 PM
I stop lifting 2 weeks out, although if I lifted more than 2x a week, I'd probably stop earlier. I do the fly-back-free sprints and am in the 45-49 age group. Tapered more in college. Don't do enough yardage for a really long taper now. Good luck at Nats!!

Paul Smith
July 21st, 2008, 07:04 PM
for me its a minimum of 2 weeks especially for long course.

tjrpatt
July 21st, 2008, 07:40 PM
two weeks sounds about right. Of course, I have been very random on my lifting. Right now, I am just concentrating on getting my training in and some cardio stuff on the side with some hand weight work. I figure that I start lifting again in September since my Zone Champs are a month away and my lifting has been probably once every 10 days.

craig68
July 21st, 2008, 09:48 PM
Thanks for the replies, everyone. I was planning on 2+ to 3 weeks, and it sounds like that wouldn't be too long, especially for someone like me that has dense muscles (or maybe that denseness just applies to my noggin) and gets pretty broken down.
I don't mean for my 'thank you' to be the end of this string. I would welcome more responses.
Craig

Syd
July 22nd, 2008, 12:50 AM
for me its a minimum of 2 weeks especially for long course.

Paul, is that weight lifting only or do you stop all dryland e.g. (ab work, chin ups, etc)?

Big AL
July 22nd, 2008, 01:03 AM
I usually stop lifting 2.5 weeks out, but continue abdominmal work for another week at 50% of normal.

swimshark
July 22nd, 2008, 07:37 AM
Thanks for the replies, everyone. I was planning on 2+ to 3 weeks, and it sounds like that wouldn't be too long, especially for someone like me that has dense muscles (or maybe that denseness just applies to my noggin) and gets pretty broken down.
I don't mean for my 'thank you' to be the end of this string. I would welcome more responses.
Craig

Muscles can lose their memory in 2 weeks so any longer out can be detrimental to what you've worked hard on.

Chris Stevenson
July 22nd, 2008, 10:30 AM
Muscles can lose their memory in 2 weeks so any longer out can be detrimental to what you've worked hard on.

I'm sure Jazz would want to jump all over any statement about "muscle memory," but there is no question that you lose the ability to hoist heavy objects during taper. Actually, even 1 week away from lifting is sufficient to do that, in my experience.

The question is really whether it affects your swimming performance. Doing weights takes a lot out of me in the pool, so even as I lose my ability to do bench presses etc, I can still get faster and more powerful. Others' mileage may differ, of course.

One summer when I was in college, I had 3 meets in succession that I had to taper for, each two weeks apart. I did a full taper for the first one (I had to meet some tough qualifying standards) and did not pick up lifting again for any of the following meets. By the time I hit the last meet, I had not lifted for 7 weeks.

I got faster at each successive meet and in all events and strokes (100s and 200s).

Granted, I had a much larger training base in college (and I was, uh, much younger). Still, I was definitely significantly weaker, in terms of lifting weights, by the end than at the beginning even as I was swimming faster.

Personally -- and this is just my opinion and my experience -- I would not worry too much about losing some weight-lifting strength during taper.

(I am no coach, though; I've heard some say that women need to taper less than men. Maybe men can maintain strength better during tapering? I don't know.)

That doesn't mean you can't do some resistance-type training in the water to help maintain swimming-specific strength during taper; in fact I would encourage it. I also do significantly more sprinting during tapering, which may have an effect somewhat similar to lifting.

Jazz Hands
July 22nd, 2008, 11:43 AM
I'm sure Jazz would want to jump all over any statement about "muscle memory," but there is no question that you lose the ability to hoist heavy objects during taper. Actually, even 1 week away from lifting is sufficient to do that, in my experience.

The question is really whether it affects your swimming performance. Doing weights takes a lot out of me in the pool, so even as I lose my ability to do bench presses etc, I can still get faster and more powerful. Others' mileage may differ, of course.

I would jump all over it, but you covered exactly what I was going to say. Looking forward to meeting you at nationals next month, by the way.

ehoch
July 22nd, 2008, 12:46 PM
Still, I was definitely significantly weaker, in terms of lifting weights, by the end than at the beginning even as I was swimming faster.

How do you know if you did not lift ?

You are not going to lose anything in 3 weeks of a good taper even if you never look at a weight - actually your max lift will most likely increase because of the rest. I actually tried that out after Nationals - I came back after not touching a weight in 4 weeks and did the exact same workout as the last lifting session. I could do 2-4 more reps on every excercise (I don't do max tests).

How much taper ?
Older swimmers need more rest -- I need more rest now than 20 years ago even though I am training less

Sprinters and / or Men need more rest -- bigger muscles need more rest

There will be a taper low -- the dreaded taper low, 10 days - 2 weeks into the taper for me.

As everybody has said more taper is better than not enough.

It's trial and error - nobody knows for certain, you may need 2-3 seasons to figure it out.

robertsrobson
October 5th, 2011, 05:36 AM
How do you know if you did not lift ?

You are not going to lose anything in 3 weeks of a good taper even if you never look at a weight - actually your max lift will most likely increase because of the rest. I actually tried that out after Nationals - I came back after not touching a weight in 4 weeks and did the exact same workout as the last lifting session. I could do 2-4 more reps on every excercise (I don't do max tests).

How much taper ?
Older swimmers need more rest -- I need more rest now than 20 years ago even though I am training less

Sprinters and / or Men need more rest -- bigger muscles need more rest

There will be a taper low -- the dreaded taper low, 10 days - 2 weeks into the taper for me.

As everybody has said more taper is better than not enough.

It's trial and error - nobody knows for certain, you may need 2-3 seasons to figure it out.

I read an interesting article a couple of years back that was asking the question of whether swimmers actually tend to under-taper rather than over-taper. As I recall it was more of a discussion paper than presenting clear evidence, but one of the things that it pointed to was the number of swimmers who went faster at the circuit meets that immediately followed the world champs (not masters) in 2009. There could be many variables in that, not least the lack of pressure, but interesting still.

I think that as masters we were generally raised in a time where yardage counted and a fear of losing fitness quickly tended to rule. Tapers were quite short and we still worked quite hard when we were in them as 'maintenance'.

Contrast this to my time as a masters swimmer where I've gone into the last few weeks before Nationals with an attitude of, "well, I might want to be fitter but it's not going to happen now" and reduced right down on yardage, dropped weights and focused on feel (really important for me) and race pace. So far I've generally done better than I'd expected going in.

orca1946
October 9th, 2011, 02:02 PM
About 3 weeks out ,I cut back to 1 set of each & the last wekk stopped it all.

tomtopo
October 10th, 2011, 01:30 PM
As a coach I usually stop lifting about two weeks before a big meet. A recovery cycle depends on how hard you were lifting / breaking down muscle fiber. When a person is in a maintaining mode, less rest is required than when you're trying to gain muscle mass. I think a two week rest is typical and a one week for those who are simply maintaining. When I was coaching girls they tended to not lift as hard as the guys so they needed less rest (just a thought).

Gabitrainor
April 21st, 2016, 03:06 PM
I want to bring back this post. I'm swimming my first Nationals next weekend, and I lift heavy (Crossfit) 5-6 times a week. Sometimes the Crossfit workout is all cardio (box jumps, rower, run, etc). and sometimes it's, of course, lifting, or a mix of a skill (back squat, etc) and cardio (300 double unders and 300 air squats). When should I stop?? I didn't go this morning (today was the double unders/air squats with a back squat skill)....and when I stop lifting weights, do I stop all exercise completely except for my swim practices (3-4 times a week)? I'm 30 and I have been feeling my body taking a bit longer to recover. I realize I'm not going to place at Nats bc my times aren't there, but I still want to swim all personal bests in my three events. ANY advice, guidence would be helpful!!!

__steve__
April 21st, 2016, 04:15 PM
Just gradually taper it. Should have already stopped working the legs though

orca1946
April 21st, 2016, 04:35 PM
Nationals are only one week till the 1,650 free, so I'm on a just swim taper.

m2tall2
April 21st, 2016, 05:19 PM
Last Thursday was my last strength training where I pushed it.
This week I'm doing the same number of sessions but a lot less time and not going to fatigue. The goal being to maintain strength not to make gains. For example, if I normally do three sets of ten, I just do one set and choose a weight that doesn't feel hard (not overly light either). If it starts to feel like it's work, I stop. For body weight moves, like pushups, I only do as many as I find comfortable. For things I time, like planks, I only do them for as many seconds as is comfortable. My 45 minute whole body routine is down to like 15 minutes. No sweating, no soreness. It's the most awesomely wussy "workout" ever.
After today, I may not do any strength at all.
I'm doing the 1000, 1650 AND the Friday 500. So this week, I'm swimming the same yards as I have been, the only adjustment is the strength training - and I'm finding myself already riding high in the water with fast times without the soreness from the strength work. I may continue my maintain only plan if I continue swimming well through the weekend.

swoomer
April 21st, 2016, 07:58 PM
Two weeks seems to work for me, though I did half weight, half reps 10 days out this time since I'm rehabbing.

Allen Stark
April 21st, 2016, 08:14 PM
I cut the weight down to 75% 3 wk before the meet and concentrate on speed with each lift.No lifting at all 10 days before the meet.

pwb
April 21st, 2016, 09:25 PM
I cut down from my normal 0% effort in the weight room to 0% effort about 52 weeks out from my taper meet. #justswim

ElaineK
April 21st, 2016, 10:08 PM
:lmao: I like your style! Hey, it definitely works for you, so why not? I'm with you on this one.

orca1946
April 22nd, 2016, 12:36 PM
PWB -- made me laugh :laugh2::rofl:at that one !!

pwb
April 23rd, 2016, 04:33 PM
PWB -- made me laugh :laugh2::rofl:at that one !!Sometimes reality / the truth is hilarious.

robertsrobson
April 25th, 2016, 05:45 AM
I want to bring back this post. I'm swimming my first Nationals next weekend, and I lift heavy (Crossfit) 5-6 times a week. Sometimes the Crossfit workout is all cardio (box jumps, rower, run, etc). and sometimes it's, of course, lifting, or a mix of a skill (back squat, etc) and cardio (300 double unders and 300 air squats). When should I stop?? I didn't go this morning (today was the double unders/air squats with a back squat skill)....and when I stop lifting weights, do I stop all exercise completely except for my swim practices (3-4 times a week)? I'm 30 and I have been feeling my body taking a bit longer to recover. I realize I'm not going to place at Nats bc my times aren't there, but I still want to swim all personal bests in my three events. ANY advice, guidence would be helpful!!!

My understanding is that crossfit is prescriptive - you are either doing WOD or not - so might be best just to cut it a few weeks out. If you can, I'd reduce the overal load more gradually, though.

MartinK
April 25th, 2016, 08:09 AM
I stop lifting about 5 to 6 weeks before the top meeting of the saison.My body need about three weeks to adapt to swim-training without lifting...