Pardon Me, May I Borrow a Jar of Grey Poupon or a Lung?

Coach Anastasia doled out quite the workout this week in Master’s Swimming. It was one of those classic hypoxic workouts in an hour-long session.

After a short 200-yard warm-up and another 200-yard set of drills, the oxygen-deficit sets began:

• 8 x 100 w/25 yards breathing every 3 strokes, then 25 yards breathing every 5 strokes, then 25 yards breathing every 7 strokes and the last 25 yards breathing every 3 strokes.

• 500 yards breathing every 5 strokes

• 200-yard cool down

Part way through the workout, I could feel the foot cramps coming on. It made me wish I had some mustard packets in my bag after doing research on swimmers cramps last year. My friend, Jeff, who resides in the fast lane and swam 250 miles last year, swears by those mustard packets.

Not entirely capable of said workout, I found myself gasping for air after 4 strokes when I was trying to do 7. Maybe it was psychological and the mere thought of doing 7 made me choke. Or maybe I was so winded from doing 25 yards breathing every 5 strokes that I had nothing left.

I couldn't help thinking while I was suffering, ‘This is really going to help my conditioning for Oceanside.’ So I started researching hypoxic swim workouts some more and was surprised at what I learned. One of the key benefits of these workouts, according to Total Immersion guru Terry Laughlin, is that they train you to swim more efficiently. You can read more about what he had to say here. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that high-intensity hypoxic training on sea-level swimming performances showed a greater improvement for those competing in short duration events. So why are these workouts beneficial for triathletes? The folks at pointed, “Some anaerobic training is essential. You will need to have some speed to break out of the pack, turn a buoy at a proper angle, or to lose the annoying swimmer behind you that's grabbing your ankles.” Based on my personal experience, you can add one more benefit to the list: they help you sleep like a log! Thanks Anastasia :-)

What are your thoughts on hypoxic training?