I am asked frequently whether triathletes and swimmers should include kick sets during the workout. My answer is always Yes*. I put an asterisk there because there are several rules that you have to follow:
- Skip the fins or you use short fins: The correct type of fins, like the Finis Zoomers, that are short, make your ankles more flexible, which in turn improves your kick when you take them off. DO NOT use those long scuba fins sold at dive shops; those make you faster but are a crutch for proper form.
- Ditch the kickboard: Resting on a kickboard like you typically see does not allow your hips to rotate like they would when you swim. Instead ditch the board and focus on keeping your hips rotated towards the wall. The exception to this rule is if you want to tombstone the board by holding it vertically for extra resistance.
- Float on: Good body position is essential for a powerful kick. If you let your legs sink and your upper body rise then your body will generate a tremendous amount of drag. Keep your chest pressed down and your lower body up.
- Do not use your knees: As you kick do not use your knees but rather your hips and upper leg muscles. Failure to do so will stress your knees and kill your efficiency
- Breath normally: As you are kicking with your hips rotated makes sure you are breathing normally, like you typically would when you swim. I see many athletes hold their breath then gasp for breath
If you are a triathlete, then using a kick set is a great way to warm up or cool down. I would not put it into the main set with a few exceptions (like the pyramid below) especially if you are in the build phase of your training. Pure swimmers, on the other hand, can include some hard kick sets in the main set to break up longer intensities. Just do not slack off because you are “only” kicking
Follow these rules and kick sets can be incredibly effective; break them and the kick set becomes aqua aerobics.
Coach Chris and Kev