Pool Training: Building Motocross Strength and Endurance

Pool Training: Building Motocross Strength and Endurance

The major reason to use a pool is the quality of training. Swim sessions may be
closely monitored and are safe. Controlled interval workouts used in pool training sessions
provide good feedback; the pace clock doesn’t lie. Pool sessions allow you to design
workouts that vary in intensity and emphasis, which is not possible in open water. Pool
training and acquisition of improved stroke skills are elective elements of a motocross training
program. Pool training will increase your comfort level in open water, thus enabling you to
significantly improve your motocross technique capabilities.

Warming Up

Warming-up should consist of at least 400 meters of swimming, along with some
kicking and pulling drills. Warming-up is essential for swimming to avoid developing
problems of the shoulder joint and upper back.

Target heart rate during warm-up should be
about 60% of maximal.

During your warm-up, work on efficient stroke “stealth” swimming! Warming-up
is an appropriate time to include stroke drills. This serves the purpose of providing stroke
patterning along with the warm-up.

Basic Principles of Interval Training

Motocross racers & riders need to concentrate on swim training that will enhance endurance:

interval swim training will allow this to happen. Interval training sets (for both strength and
endurance) are generally comprised of repeated swims lasting 45 seconds to 4 minutes.
Basics of interval training include the following:

  • Swim at a slow to moderate pace for five to ten minutes to warm-up muscles
    and cardiorespiratory system.
  • For anaerobic training, sets should be performed until repeat times can no
    longer be held. There is no magical number of repetitions for a set, but the
    distance is typically 50 to 100 meters, or a time of about 45 seconds.
  • Swimming at a prescribed intensity pace for as long as possible is most
    important. When desired pace can no longer be sustained, the set should be
  • Work:recovery ratios play an important part in the type of adaptation that
    occurs. A 1:1 work:recovery ratio would be to swim 45 seconds and rest 45
    seconds, whereas a 1:2 ratio would be to swim 45 seconds and rest 90 seconds.
  • To stimulate endurance adaptations, recovery intervals between repetitions
    should be less than 30 seconds. For maximum benefit, it is best to keep the
    interval less than 15 seconds.
  • For anaerobic adaptations to occur, recovery intervals should be in excess of
    one minute and up to at least twice the duration of the repetition swim. These
    effects occur independent of the repetition distance or pace.
  • The longer the rest interval, irrespective of the distance being repeated, the
    greater the use of the anaerobic system. With long rests, it takes considerably
    longer for the aerobic energy system to be reactivated. Short rest intervals
    keep the aerobic system functioning, particularly during initial recovery

Interval training is the backbone of a swimming workout

Below demonstrates how the different energy systems can be trained in an interval
workout. Swim 1 is a hard effort, short distance and a lot of rest; this type of effort builds
the anaerobic (CP) and transitional (Lactate-CP) energy systems. The second swim consists
of fewer sets at a longer distance and with shorter rest intervals; this swim would challenge
the aerobic system.

Energy Systems Used During Interval Sets

Interval Sets – Endurance

Freestyle Swim: 10 x 50 m with only 5 sec. rest

  • Rest 5 seconds between each swim.
  • Start with efficient “stealth” stroke, work into distance race pace. Don’t overkick.
  • Try to match your 1000 meter pace with this set

Freestyle Swim: 50-50-100 m with 5 sec. rest

  • Swim 2 x 50 meters with 5 seconds rest, then swim 100 meters: Repeat 3X.
  • This set builds into a 100 meter swim where the swimmer tries to match the
    pace set in the 50 meters.
  • Back off of the 50 meters a little to save up for the 100 meters.
    ” If you want, add an extra 15 seconds of rest between each 50-50-100 to keep
    the quality up.
  • A “buildup” set like this will do great things for your endurance and sense of

Freestyle Swim: 10 x 100 m with 10 sec. rest

  • Rest 10 seconds between each 100 meter swim.
  • Swim smoothly and efficiently. This is the set where you may exceed your
    long, slow swimming 1000 meter time!

Breaststroke Swim: 50-50-100 m – 5 sec. rest

  • Done like the freestyle 50-50-100 set outlined above.
  • Concentrate on keeping effort level up.

Interval Sets – Strength and Power

Freestyle Swim: 10 x 50 m with 30 sec. rest

  • Begin at a strong pace. Build to race pace with a strong turn and an extra
    strong finish. Try to be within 5 seconds of your race 50 meters pace, usually
    equal to your race 200 meter pace.
  • At first, try just 5 x 50 meters with 30 second rest.
  • This is the most power-oriented freestyle set. It will also allow you to discover
    your true maximal heart rate. If you start to die off at the end, increase
    your rest a little to keep your pace.
  • If you are particularly strong and want to build more speed, do this set with

Freestyle Swim: 10 x 100 m with 45 sec. rest

  • Same pace approach as the 50 meter interval set. This is for advanced swimmers
    with a refined stroke. It will build power, but this set should be used no
    more than once every two weeks.
  • The rest interval should be 45 seconds for this length of swim; adjust your
    interval accordingly.

Breaststroke Swim: 10 x 50 m with 30 sec. rest

  • Like backstroke, work on hard swimming with about 30 seconds of rest.
    Breaststroke is very taxing when done hard but like bicycling it is easy to
    throttle back and have the appearance without the substance.

Integrated Workouts

For pool training it is necessary to integrate your sets into a comprehensive
workout. At first you will want to limit your hard sets, but as your fitness improves, hard
drills can be extended. It also worthwhile alternating between anaerobic and aerobic
workouts. In this way your performance for motocross racing & riding should be

Sample Anaerobic and Aerobic/ Endurance Swim Interval Workouts


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About The Author


I am 110% committed to your motocross racing success with my motocross school, fitness training, & tips. Even if you have the motocross bug in your heart but never threw a leg over a dirt bike, I will help teach you how to ride. If your a racer already and want to improve your skills whether it be in fitness, riding skills, mental, or all three. we will get you to the top of the pack and winning races. Your motocross Racing coach. Scoob